Snoqualmie Tribe Hosts Candidate Forum, October 17th

The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe will host a forum to discuss how Snoqualmie city council and mayoral candidates will approach local issues if elected to their respective positions in November.

The forum happens October 17, 2017 in the Snoqualmie Casino Ballroom from  6:00PM- 8:45PM. Admission is free and appetizers will be served.

According to a Snoqualmie Tribe press release, the forum will address protecting sacred spaces, responsible development, environmental stewardship, representing diverse voices in the community and government to government relations.

Moderators of the event are Dr. T.M. Sell, Professor of Journalism and Political Economy at Highline College; Nate Smith, Executive Director of the Snoqualmie Valley YMCA; and Perry Falcone, Project Coordinator for the Snoqualmie Watershed Forum.

The forum has been a recent hot topic on social media as Mayor Matt Larson has stated he will not attend, nor will most incumbents except for Councilmember Bob Jeans. Larson said he believes the gesture is well intended, but has concerns including one local government entity formally involving itself in the election of another local government; the casino venue; and objective moderation.

Snoqualmie Tribe Communications spokesperson, Michael Brunk, said via email, “While some candidates have stated they will not be attending, we still have quite a few who have RSVP’d and plan to attend.” He added, “As for those who have declined, we hope they change their minds and decide to attend to share their thoughts and ideas on issues of importance to the Snoqualmie community.”

Organizers say those interested are encouraged to attend the forum or submit questions from the audience in advance of the event. Questions can be submitted to

Per the press release: The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe has been located in the Snoqualmie Falls area since time immemorial, and actively participates in the local community.  Since 2008, the Tribe’s enterprises have allowed them to provide over 1,700 jobs, and donate over $1.5 million to nonprofit organizations in the Snoqualmie Valley.




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  • Statement from Mayor candidate Matt Larson:
    After considerably thought, I concluded that I would not participate in the Snoqualmie Tribe’s October 17th Candidate’s Forum. Consequently, on August 31st, I sent the following response to a representative of the Snoqualmie Tribe.
    “Thank you for the effort and offer; however, I will not be participating in your forum. While I believe the gesture is well intended, it is also ill-conceived for several reasons.
    First and foremost, it is inappropriate for one local government entity to formally meddle in the elections of another local government. The City of Snoqualmie and the Snoqualmie Tribe are members of the Snoqualmie Valley Governments Association. The SVGA was formed as a means to foster greater cooperation, understanding, respect and partnerships between the various governmental agencies in the Snoqualmie Valley. The success of such associations depends on abiding respect for each jurisdiction’s inherent mission, independence and sovereignty. Imagine the City of North Bend inviting Snoqualmie candidates to a debate in their Council Chamber to discuss North Bend’s concerns. Or–worse yet–imagine how rightly insulted the Tribe would be if the City of Snoqualmie was to host an open debate in Snoqualmie for your Council elections. I suspect that you would understandably decline the offer. Respectful partnerships require an even playing field.
    Second, a casino–any casino–is not an appropriate venue for a small-town local election, particularly one located outside of City limits and within another sovereign government’s jurisdiction.
    Lastly and regretfully, I am not confident that the forum would be objectively moderated. Tribal representatives have twice met with the slate of Snoqualmie 1st candidates and have not afforded a similar opportunity for all candidates in this race.
    Given the recent progress in our Tribal-City relations, this forum causes me serious concern. While I understand that it is well intended, it will very likely damage our mutual positive efforts, regardless of the outcome of the election. For all of these reasons, I respectfully encourage you to reconsider hosting this forum in its current form. An in-city venue and more objective moderator (such as the League of Women Voters) would serve to mitigate my concerns. Without changes, I will discourage other candidates from participating. And, if necessary, I will also share my concerns with local media as my absence will undoubtedly be questioned should you chose to proceed. Again, thank you for the offer and effort. Respectfully, Matt Larson”
    The Tribe’s invitation also included a lengthy questionnaire, similar to those typically provided by registered political action committees (PACs) for candidates seeking donations and endorsements from special interest groups. This is not a protocol that serious and objective candidate forums follow. In addition, the Tribe is spending an extraordinary amount of money to promote this event. By “extraordinary” I mean an amount greater than the combined total spent by all 18 city candidates this year. Local governments are not allowed to spend public funds in similar fashion and cannot compete with growing casino-funded political influence. I fear my involvement would set a new and unwelcome precedent.

  • The Snoqualmie mayor and Council members are duty bound to represent the interests of Snoqualmie residents. The Tribe is a sovereign nation not subject to local laws and taxation. In light of this fact, here are questions for candidates that are missing from the Tribe’s generated list of candidate questions.

    1.In 2012, the Tribe announced plans to build a 340 room, 20 story hotel adjacent to the casino. As a sovereign nation, the Tribe is not bound by local or county codes and design standards. The Tribe also does not contribute to local property, sales, and B&O taxes. In light of this, do you have any concerns about the impacts of this project on the environment, rural character, local roads, businesses, work force housing, and the SR18/I90 interchange?

    2.The Tribe has also stated plans to add hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail uses along North Bend Way on a future expanded reservation. Do you support this goal?

    3.In order to accomplish its development plans, the Tribe needs additional sewer service from the City of Snoqualmie. However, the Tribe has made it very clear that the City should have no say about how such expanded services will be used. Do you support expanding services to the Tribe without thoroughly understanding all potential uses and impacts?

    4.The Tribe is now planning to construct its own sewer facility so that it is not impeded from implementing its future development plans by the City. Such a facility will require an expansion of reservation lands in order to inject, or land apply treated effluent into local creeks and streams. The City has impeded this effort by submitting numerous concerns to the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) about a lack of proper environmental review and transparency with local residents potentially affected by such a facility. Do you support the City’s actions to-date, or would you reverse its position and support the Tribe?

    5.With 1700 employees, the Casino is one of the largest employers in the Valley. Unfortunately, the majority of these workers cannot afford to live in the Snoqualmie Valley. Consequently, the Casino adds hundreds of commuter cars to the SR18/I90 congestion every day and exacerbates our workforce housing crisis in the Valley. Future Tribal development will add to these problems. Since the Casino provides no tax revenue to our local communities, how would you work with the Tribe to assure that they properly pay for impacts? (Growth pays for growth.)

    6.Transparency has been a hot topic in this race. The Tribal government is not subject to public records requests; they do not allow the public to attend Tribal Council meetings, and they do not provide any details or studies about their future development plans that have the potential to significantly impact our local communities. How would you encourage the Tribe to be more transparent?

  • The forum was very informative. The lack of incumbents (except for Mr Jeans) was pretty appalling and very apparent. It did not come across well, in my opinion, to have so many vacant seats.

  • Living Snoqualmie