Rituja will be adding responses to questions she receives throughout the campaign. Please check this page frequently for the latest updates.
Why are you running for Sammamish City Council?
Over the past 15 years ago, my husband and I moved to Sammamish from Bellevue to raise our family. We specifically chose Sammamish because we fell in love with the great schools, safe neighborhoods, and beautiful green spaces! I’ve always been actively engaged in the local community- as a Director on a non-profit board, soccer coach, girl scouts mom and a PTSA Board member.
I want to give back to the community that has given our family so much. I’m running for City Council to serve my community, to ensure that we are good stewards of the city and that we keep it welcoming for all current and future residents.
Throughout the campaign, I’ve talked to hundreds of Sammamish residents, and knocked on thousands of doors. This incredible experience has strengthened my belief that we have more things in common than what divides us. We all care about the city we live in, want a better future for our children and our seniors and care about doing what's best for our entire community.
What experience/qualifications do you bring to the table?
I have spent most of my professional life working in the business and technology sector - tackling complex technological solutions with teams spanning continents. I bring a wealth of diverse experience balancing budgets, analyzing data and assessing risks. Working on large scaled projects, I’ve had to collaborate across teams, adjust to changing needs and make tough decisions to achieve results.
In addition, I graduated from United Way of King County’s and Costco’s leadership program. I have spent nearly a decade volunteering in our community as a Board Treasurer and public speaker for Humanities Washington, a Director of Arts Festivals and a Precinct Committee Officer.
I am a collaborator who has worked with students, seniors, athletes, parents and professionals in our community. I will continue to listen to all voices and ensure we have transparency and accountability in City Hall.
What are your priorities for Sammamish?
In talking to people of Sammamish, three issues come to the forefront: the Environment, Traffic and Growth. We must invest in our community and plan for its future.
Environment: Many families move to Sammamish for its schools, parks and trails. Cities with healthy urban forests not only provide people a healthy, beautiful place outside to enjoy but the tree canopy can also help to filter the air, improve water quality and (when properly placed) can even save energy! We must ensure residents of Sammamish continue to enjoy the benefits of trees and our wetlands and wildlife corridors are protected. To do this, I will work to enact an Urban Forest Plan - utilizing proper arboricultural techniques and management practices while also helping take care of stormwater (also known as toxic runoff) issues.
Traffic: Many residents of Sammamish do not have access to transit. Given that both Issaquah and Redmond will be served by light rail, it is imperative that residents of Sammamish be able to get to these light rail connections by transit. We must work with our regional partners in finding solutions to our transportation issues. I will be a strong advocate for regional transit solutions, providing sidewalks on high pedestrian and bicycle roads.
Growth: The Puget Sound region is experiencing growth and Sammamish has not been able to escape it. Decisions made today will impact us for generations. We need to be smart about managing growth in ways that retain the character of the city and do not compromise our quality of life.
Where Does Rituja Stand on the Issues?
Rituja will be updating this page with answers to questions she receives throughout the campaign. Check this page frequently to get the latest on Rituja's positions.
In voting unanimously to impose a development moratorium, the Sammamish City Council sent a strong message to the City and to its residents that addressing traffic concerns is a priority to this council. The desire to seek a moratorium is to ensure that the city staff updates calculations and data which depict the current traffic conditions in the city. It also allows the councilmembers to study and evaluate models which will guide the policy hereafter.
Although the decision does not impact current projects inflight, we must ensure transparency and expediency in ensuring the data is accurate and up to date. The moratorium may have an impact on our residents, but having this pause will help collect the data necessary to make corrections. It will also ensure that the policy enacted by the council is carried out in its true spirit and we as a City continue to be in compliance with current laws.
Parks and Trails:
Local parks, trails and sports fields are integral to the community in Sammamish. They bring together families, provide recreation and create a sense of community. I support the development of parks and recreation land, facilities, and open space areas to meet the needs of the Sammamish community. I support the completion of the multi-use Eastlake Sammamish Trail which provides public benefit to all Sammamish residents. However, it is imperative that we mitigate the issues faced by residents regarding property while ensuring that public lands are not encroached upon.
It is important that City Hall creates an atmosphere in which leaders are willing to listen openly, respect different opinions and provide constructive feedback. Having served on the Board of Directors for a non-profit, I have the experience of holding staff accountable in situations which lacked full communication and transparency.
I am committed to ensuring that the city and the council conduct business in an open, transparent and accountable manner. These principles must be in our policies, procedures and practices. I would also like to propose that the Council members set goals for which they are held accountable. If the city council cannot reach down to the staff level, the City manager should be held accountable.
Raising revenue is a challenge for all cities in our region- not just Sammamish. New businesses, restaurants and services brought into Sammamish by the construction of Town Center create a potential revenue source. We need to continue to be smart about spending and evaluate processes that can address redundancy in services to reduce spending. Sammamish has been successful with applying for and being awarded grants and we must continue to do so.
Sammamish is a young city which has grown rapidly in the past few years. One way of building this community is to encourage its residents to learn about how the city government works. This can be done by having regular classes or workshops which inform residents on how city departments, commissions and processes work. A thriving city is where its residents are engaged in the decisions that are made for the city.