Update: Nov. 8, 4:30 p.m.: Please find the newest results here on Patch.
Update Nov. 8, 10:30 a.m.: Jim Wasnick asked for an opportunity to respond to some of the comments in this article. His responses appear at the end of the article.
So far, though it's not exactly a resounding mandate, the Sammamish community is holding its early approval for a new Community and Aquatic Center, still by a margin of about 3 percent on the second day of King County election tallies.
The advisory measure is passing by 7,522 votes, or 51.22 percent, to 7,163, or 48.77 percent. So far, 64.9 percent of the ballots have been verified.
Hank Klein, who was active on the committee supporting the approval, said that though he's hopeful the numbers will hold up, he also hopes that with a new center, that private businesses such as Columbia Athletic Clubs won't lose any business, as some fear.
"According to the pundits, this kind of margin is likely to be upheld. Obviously there are people who have some doubts (about a center), but now it's up to the city council to decide," Klein said.
Jim Wasnick, who was on the citizen committee writing the opposition statement to the proposition, and who has run a Vote No website, though he is not affiliated with Common Sense Sammamish, an opposition group that has invested more than $45,000 fighting the proposition, said he hopes the city will take note of the high numbers who voted no.
"It’s a really divided citizenry," Wasnick said. "It would behoove the council, if this thin majority holds, to do a little bit more polling with the citizens to see just what exatly what they do want."
Wasnick said he would like to see the council consider a pool and community center, without other fitness equipment or classes so as not to affect private business.
Sammamish City Councilman Ramiro Valderrama said he has been disappointed with some of the misinformation distributed not only by Common Sense Sammamish, but also by members of the citizen opposition committee, including the Vote No website.
Valderrama cited, by way of example, the Vote No site telling citizens that the city was considering raising taxes while planning to spend this money. He said it was a disingenuous tactic, since it's well-known that the city considers the optional one percent tax increase annually, and this year, as in every year for the past four years, declines to raise taxes. Though this action to reject the tax increase was taken in October, Valderrama said, the Vote No site left that specter of raising property taxes up on its website.
"He also didn’t mention that the bulk of this money comes from the Parks budget and that money would then go to those parks projects that have been delayed" in favor of going through with the community center citizens have for years asked for, Valderrama said. "I expected the con committee to hold themselves to a higher standard."
Valderrama said e's so bothered by this that he has proposed that the city council consider asking members of future committees to sign an agreement to provide factual and complete information as part of their efforts either for or against a city action.
That said, Valderrama said he's also very sympathetic to the private sector, and had previously hoped that could be an avenue, but it hasn't worked out that way.
Councilman Don Gerend said the vote so far is much closer than he expected, and he also thinks that misinformation may have made it closer than it might otherwise have been. He said if it maintains its margin, he plans to propose moving forward, but that doesn't mean the plan won't be refined.
"We don’t have it finalized yet, certainly its always open for refinement and we have a lot of work to do in coming to a mutually agreeable operating agreement with the Y," Gerend said.
Klein said he thinks that once the city has a new facility, the citizens will be happy and will be avid users of it.
"Given what has happened, I think the Y in Newcastle has found it's had to expand its parking. I’m hopeful, very hopeful, i think its going going to be a great resource for the community," Klein said.
Editor's note: Following are responses to this article by Jim Wasnick.
Jim Wasnick told Patch he takes exception to some of the comments by Sammamish Councilman Ramiro Valderrama, published here. Valderrama called out an example on the site VoteNo as an example of what he referred to as misinformation. The site reads:
Question: Why has the City financial team proposed to raise our property taxes in the coming years if we have a surplus of funds?
Answer: Unfortunately, this information isn’t known to us either.
Wasnick said, "How is asking the question misinformation?" adding that he has no idea of the answer to the question posed on the site.
"I’m aware they have the option to do (raise taxes annually)," but he said his question is, "If we don’t need it, why does it even come up, because Ben (Yazici, Sammamish City Manager) could say we didn’t need it and would not even come up."
Wasnick said he himself has raised questions directly to Yazici and the City Council about different wording between the city's fact sheet on the Proposition and the language in the actual proposition, specifically regarding the tax issue, which he says amounts to misinformation. Wasnick received responses to his email only from Yazici and Councilman Don Gerend, and said he was not satified with their answer.
"To me, if there’s any misinformation it's in how questions are answered, not in how they are asked. For me it would appear that for Valderrama the misinformation is in the question," Wasnick said.
He said he at any point would have entertained any comments, questions, or concerns by the council members about the Vote No website, which contained contact information for him. Overall, Wasnick said, fewer than 300 individual IP addresses accessed the site before the election, so most of the more than 7,000 voters who so far have disapproved of the Proposition have not viewed that site.
Ultimately, Wasnick said, he sees the city council members latching onto the issue of misinformation from opponents such as Common Sense Sammamish as a way to explain the close vote, but he believes his efforts and questions were honest and forthright regarding the issue.
"I find it very disheartening that when a concerned citizen like myself asking questions, is then represented by a city council member in that fashion," Wasnick said.
Wasnick said he is a strong proponent of Sammamish Parks and Recreation efforts, and has volunteered many hours, such as at Evans Creek Park, but does not agree that the proposed Community and Aquatic Center is the best use of those funds.
Washington Election Results 2012