New Sammamish City council appoints new mayor, deputy mayor

January 11, 2014

By Ari Cetron

New: Jan. 11, 12:16 p.m.

There’s a new Sammamish City Council, and that means it’s time for a new mayor.

One of the first actions taken Jan. 7 after the oath of office was administered to the new city council members was to elect from among its own membership a new mayor and deputy mayor.

Tom Vance was chosen to be, nominally, the head of Sammamish for the next two years, while Kathleen Huckabay will be deputy mayor.

Vance is halfway through his first term on the City Council. He had previously served on the Planning Commission and acted as chairman of that body. He has lived in the Heritage Hills neighborhood since 1994. He was an executive at the Times Mirror Company, which owned newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, and other media companies. Times Mirror merged with the Tribune Co. in 2000, about the same time Vance retired. He and his wife, Mary Lynn, have no children.

Sammamish has a council-manager form of government, sometimes called a weak mayor system.

In this form of government, there is no chief executive directly elected by the citizens – a so-called strong mayor such as the one in Issaquah or Seattle.

Instead, the citizens elect a council, and the council chooses a mayor from among its own membership – a first among equals. Most executive power is wielded by the city manager, who serves at the pleasure of the council. In a somewhat simplified way, the relationship is similar to a corporate governance structure with the council acting as a board of directors and the city manager as a CEO.

The mayor still holds some power, since he or she acts as chairman of the city council meetings. In theory, the mayor could cut off debate or refuse to recognize a council member who wished to speak. However, in Sammamish, the council is typically cordial and the mayor rarely, if ever, exercises such authority.

Huckabay nominated Vance to the mayoral post. Councilman Don Gerend nominated Councilwoman Nancy Whitten for mayor.

Candidates are then voted on in the order in which they were nominated, and Vance, who was nominated first, got five votes – his own along with Huckabay and Councilmen Tom Odell (the outgoing mayor), Bob Keller and Gerend.

Councilman Ramiro Valderrama then nominated Gerend to take over his position as deputy mayor, while Keller nominated Huckabay. Gerend received support from himself, Valderrama and Whitten, not enough to win the post.

Huckabay got votes from herself, Odell, Vance and Keller. In a show of comity, Gerend also voted for Huckabay.

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