Don Gerend announces run for City Council
May 9, 2013
By Ari Cetron
New: May 9, 12:40 p.m.
Councilman Don Gerend, the longest-serving member of the Sammamish City Council, has announced he plans to run for another four-year term.
“I kind of feel my roots have sunk deep into the glacial outwash,” Gerend said.
Gerend was elected to the first City Council in 1999 and has served on it since. He is the only remaining member of the original council still on the council. His announcement shores up the council races this year.
So far, four seats are up for election, and four people have announced plans to run. Besides Gerend, Mayor Tom Odell will run for re-election. Robert Keller and Kathleen Huckabay have announced they plan to run, while Councilmen John James and John Curley will not seek re-election.
Gerend, who is 72 and has lived in Sammamish for 34 years, said he enjoys his time on the council, calling it stimulating, challenging and very rewarding. He first ran, he said, because he had spent years criticizing the way the government operated. So, when Sammamish formed, it was time to stop complaining and start acting.
“I felt it was a duty to give back,” he said.
In the coming four years, Gerend said he expects the biggest challenges to be the community center and Town Center.
On the community center front, Gerend said he was going to wait to discuss options if the project goes over budget. In a recent presentation, the council heard that a preliminary estimate put the community center more than $2 million over its $30 million budget.
Gerend said that was an early proposal, and he would wait until the council heard firmer numbers before considering what, if any, changes would need to be made. He said he certainly wanted to keep a close eye on the budget. However, there are other factors to consider.
“We want to develop a product that’s what the community wants,” he said.
Gerend had been active in the initial Town Center plan, and said that now it seems the city may have been too restrictive in the way it envisioned the plan. He said he was not in favor of increasing the overall density in Town Center, but he would like to see more flexibility.
In particular, he thought the city might want to allow developers to shift density from one part of Town Center to another. He also suggested the council might want to lower the amount of affordable housing required, and relax requirements for structured parking.
He would also like to continue to work to protect the Lake Sammamish kokanee salmon, and the streams in the city in which the fish live. He is also a member of a group that envisions Sammamish having an emerald necklace — a greenbelt of parks and open areas all connected to each other.
In his years on the council, Gerend has served as mayor three times. He has represented Sammamish on the Eastside Fire & Rescue board. He also serves on a host of regional, state and national boards and commissions. He is the president of the Association of Washington Cities and a member of the National League of Cities.
Gerend is a former rocket scientist, and former professor of physics and astronomy. He then moved into commercial real estate. He and his wife Susan live on Pine Lake. He has two grown children who live in Western Washington.