Perspectives: Bob Toomey
This is part of our continuing series of interviews with people who live in and/or are connected to Sammamish, providing their perspective on what is happening on key issues in the community. Responses may be edited for length and flow.
Bob Toomey works for S.R. Schill & Associates financial advisors on Mercer Island, has lived in Sammamish since 1992, and is a past president of the Sammamish Chamber of Commerce.
What are the key issues facing the Sammamish business community and/or community as a whole?
The key issue as a whole is quality of life. Sammamish has evolved into a really nice place to live. Also, maintaining a sound fiscal position for the city.
With regard to business, transportation — ensuring easy access to places of business is important. A pro-business stance on the part of the city and city council is also very important, and also business being able to attract and retain good workers.
With respect to the city council, I would want them to take a pro-business approach in the way they operate the city, and understand that supporting a positive business environment is very good for the overall health and vitality of the city.
How would you describe your view of how Sammamish is dealing with those issues? With respect to quality of life I thing the city is doing a reasonably good job. The city has done a lot of things to improve the parks; there are beautiful parks in Sammamish. The city also has been good about constructive zoning. I would give the city good marks in supporting quality of life.
With regard to supporting the business environment, I think historically it has been good but lately it’s been more mixed. I have not been active in attending city council meetings but I see stuff that I get second hand. Of late the city council in the last year or two has been wavering or more mixed. That’s my impression — take it for what it’s worth.
What's the #1 positive thing going on?
Quality of life.
What's the #1 frustration?
I don’t have any real frustration, more of a concern that the city council in the last year or two has had more of a mixed support for the business climate.
How do people in Sammamish get their news about what's going on in the community, and how is that working?
I don’t think they’re getting good information. Maybe the city should do a once-a-month summary of what’s happening in the city.
What do you think of the current business climate in Sammamish, and how could it be improved?
I would want the city council to be actively thinking about ways in which they can support the health of the business community and attract new business. Maybe more mixed use development and supporting commercial building codes that would attract more business.
How important is the upcoming Sammamish City Council election, and why?
I think it’s quite important. It seems in the last couple of years there’s been a little more acrimony and mixed opinions on supporting the business environment in Sammamish and I think that’s a change from earlier. The founding fathers, if you will, really did yeomen’s work in creating a really balanced approach to business and quality of life, and also a very sound financial position for the city.
What are your thoughts about the Sammamish Town Center project?
I’m very much in favor of moving forward with that –– again, in a way that balances the needs of both businesses and residents. I can understand why some people who live along Fourth could feel violated or invaded. But as long as the development is done in a careful way that takes in the needs of both businesses and residents while maintaining quality of life, I support it.
Do you believe Sammamish is effectively tackling its transportation issues?
My sense is that the city is doing as much as it can. The problem is they are going up against big entities that have more control over these assets. It’s difficult to go up against King County, Metro and the people who run these agencies.
Looking to the future, how do you think Sammamish will be operating a year from now, better or worse?
My gut says probably about the same. It depends on the election and the makeup of the city council. I really should be more engaged in what’s happening. As a concerned citizen, I think the city should be focused on supporting quality of life, low taxes, a sound financial position and a pro-business climate.