Pair of Sammamish City Councilmen bid farewell

December 30, 2013

By Ari Cetron

New: Dec. 30, 12:33 p.m.

After serving one term each, John James and John Curley said goodbye to the Sammamish City Council Dec. 10. Each opted not to run for re-election.

Mayor Tom Odell, who was elected at the same time as the other two men, presented each of them with a plaque recognizing their service to the city.

“To me, this has gone by far too quickly,” Odell said.

He praised both councilmen, noting they have sometimes voted on opposite sides of issues, but that disagreements have always been respectful.

“We haven’t always been on the same page, which I think is healthy,” Odell said.

Curley spoke of how serving in government changed his perception of it, at least as far as the city goes. He went in expecting apathy and inefficiency, he said, but instead found a well-managed cadre of skilled professionals.

He noted one complaint he has often had about council meetings, which, he said, can chase off some potential candidates: Meetings can run too long and involve too much discussion.

Curley said he hopes council meetings can be run more efficiently in the future, so that people who are more representative of Sammamish residents – “people in their 40s who work for a living” – can run for election.

Curley echoed Odell’s theme of learning to work together. When Curley was first elected, he beat Councilman Tom Vance. Two years later, Vance won election to the council for a different seat. Curley said Vance had become one of his best friends on the council, even though they are on opposite ends of the political spectrum.

“You can disagree adamantly and still respect the guy, because he works so hard for the city,” Curley said.

James, who had entertained the thought of running for a Seattle Port Commission seat earlier this year, took some time to recap his four years. He noted the idea of installing a municipal swimming pool he and his children could use was one of the things that launched him into politics about seven years ago.

Now, at the end of his term, that pool is in the cusp of being built, he said, although it still won’t likely be open for another two years.

“It seems like I’ve done this for someone else’s kids rather than my own. That’s part of giving back,” James said.

Dec. 10 was the council’s last scheduled meeting of 2013. Both men’s terms run through the end of the year, so in the event of an emergency meeting, they would still sit on the council.

Two new council members, Robert Keller and Kathleen Huckabay, will be sworn in at the first meeting in 2014.

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