Minal Ghassemieh (Position 3)


1. Do you support a plastic bag and styrofoam ban in Sammamish?  Why or why not?


Yes, absolutely.  There is no reason not to ban these items and encourage the use of environmentally friendly reusable cups and bags.  

2. How would you encourage local businesses and Sammamish residents to compost and recycle?  What incentives, education, and/or regulations would you enact to increase participation in these programs throughout the city? 


The best place to begin awareness is among young people in schools and the various community organizations that already meet on a regular basis.  While most of the community practices recycling, not everyone understands the importance of compost.  From my perspective, compost is an easy add-on to waste management practices.

3. What is your priority for land acquisition for open space, parks, and/or trail connections for the city of Sammamish? Why?


My priority is certainly to make our city more family and walker-friendly.  With a growing number of residents and families we need more parks for young people to run and play.  With our beautiful landscape, the shoreline, the trees, and capacity for trails our residents, neighboring residents, and visitors alike should be able to walk through and around our city.  Sammamish is already a desirable place to live and by improving and further developing our parks and trails our city will continue its transformation into a desirable place to live, work and play.

4. What is your plan for reducing car traffic in Sammamish?  Would that include increasing public transit and/or removing road barricades to increase connectivity?


My plan would be a collective plan that includes reviewing current road improvement projects, evaluating new projects that are in the pipeline, assessing the need to opening barricades and working with regional partners to increase public transit in our city. There are added environmentally friendly options to reduce traffic that should also be considered including a city connector that brings residents to places within the city, city bikes available to residents in conjunction with proper bike lanes, and looking to other environmentally friendly city’s who are modeling environmentally friendly transportation options for cities like ours.

5. How would you increase trail connectivity in and around Sammamish to increase walkability within the city and to and from the Emerald Necklace?


Increasing trail connectivity and capacity will require reviewing the current network in place, originally put in place by the County, and revising it based on current need.  Developing the network, adding capacity, building new connectors where it makes sense to do so based on demand and making sure there is a plan to connect the Emerald Necklace should be planned and executed to make our city more walkable.

6. Would you support Sammamish using the STAR Community Rating  system (starcommunities.org) as a sustainability framework and certification program? Nearby, Seattle is a 5-STAR Certified Community (the second city in the country to do so!), Tacoma is a 4-STAR Certified Community, and King County is a 4-STAR Certified Community.  


Yes, using the STAR Community Rating would be beneficial to Sammamish and the Eastside.

7. Do you support completing the East Lake Sammamish Trail to King County regional trail standards?  As currently designed by King County Parks, the trail meets King County and AASHTO national standards for a trail of its type and expected volume of use, including design as a 12-foot-wide trail.


Yes, I absolutely support completing the East Lake Sammamish Trail to regional standards so that families, bike riders and individuals can make use of the trail for work and recreation.

8. Would you support the city transforming our unattractive stormwater ponds to promote a natural aesthetic? How would you propose that the city ensure they are properly maintained in form and function?


Transforming stormwater ponds into something that is more aesthically attractive for the city sounds fantastic, as long as they are serving their purpose in accordance with industry standards.  Our city staff and leadership are well versed in identifying experts in the industry to provide the necessary guidance, processes, procedures and services to ensure the ponds are functioning as they are meant to.

9. Do you support the creation of aesthetic design standards for new developments in Sammamish?  Why or why not?


This sounds wonderful and could be a good city plan to reassure current residents that our city maintains its natural appearance and attract new residents who have a shared vision on Sammamish being an overall green city.  

10. The agreement between the city and the Y includes transferring the Y property next to Pine Lake Middle School to the city at no cost if it is used for active recreation.  Some would like to see it developed for more passive use to maintain tree canopy and wildlife habitat.  This passive use of the property may require the city to purchase it outright.  How would you handle this issue?


I would hope to facilitate a compromise where each party’s goals are best met.  On one hand, active use of the area would like mitigate the shortage of fields for our growing population of young people.  On the other hand, passive use would preserve trees, wetlands and wildlife.  I am confident that there is a compromise that would benefit each side so that the Y and city remain partners.

11. What 3 actions should the city take to increase its tree canopy cover?


I would want an expert, an arborist and/or other environmental professionals to be on retainer to advise the city, staff and provide information to residents on tree retention.  I would also want a task force or other body interested in this matter to work with environmental consultants, get trained, taking public comment, responding to concerned residents, and take charge in monitoring tree retention and compliance with the urban forest management plan.  I would also want the city council to undergo the same training.  Tree retention is a key issue in our city and each city council member should be well-versed on policy, the current state of the tree canopy, how to best evaluate public concerns and advise our city accordingly.

12. What is your goal for Sammamish’s Urban Forest?  Additionally, would you support the following proposals? Why or why not?

a) Linking that goal to stormwater retention

b) Creating an Urban Forest Panel or Board to monitor and enforce the provisions of the Urban Forest Management Plan

c) Hiring one or more arborists to city staff to assist in assessment of trees on land to be developed as well as to support policies in the Urban Forest Management Plan

d) Creating a requirement that retained trees are clustered together rather than scattered or left in a thin line at the property boundary? This “Tree Save” idea has been used in other cities, with the provision that only passive recreation can be conducted within the retained cluster


  • Hiring one or more arborists, preferably with some academic as well as field experience would be the best to advise both city and its residents on the tree canopy and the Urban Forest Management Plan.
  • The Urban Forest Panel or Board would be a good addition to the frontline monitoring the current canopy and advising the city compliance with the Urban Forest Management Plan.  This Board should be comprised of City Council, Staff, Residents and other Stakeholders who are most qualified to advise on this matter.
  • Since storm water retention is directly linked to the tree canopy, clarifying how it currently stands and the efforts needed to maintain a healthy balance would be good to establish and monitor.

13. Would you support having a dedicated Sustainability staff member in Sammamish? (Issaquah currently has 5 staff in its Office of Sustainability.) 


Having a handful of individuals dedicated to sustainability would be ideal in terms of our rapid growth, coupled with citizen concerns and discord. The office of sustainability would provide a level of confidence that the city is making decisions that are in the city’s best interest.  

14. What other efforts would you actively pursue to further sustainability in Sammamish?


I have confidence in transparency, sound policy, and collaborative decision-making.  The city should make efforts to be as transparent as possible with the city on history, current affairs and future planning as it pertains to sustainability.  Policies that work should apply and those that do not should be revised.  City Council should take into consideration not only the controlling policy but also how the decision would impact sustainability in the long-term.  Furthermore, I would hope for a collaborative decision, with all stakeholders having the opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions.   

Back to the questionnaire page

Position 1 Mark Baughman Jason Ritchie
Position 3 Minal Ghassemieh Karen Howe Karen Moran
Position 5 Ryika Hooshangi Rituja Indapure Chris Ross
Position 7 Melanie Curtright John Robinson Pam Stuart