Things are looking up for Socialist candidate Kshama Sawant in Seattle’s City Council election. After a disappointing election night, things looked pretty dim for Sawant, who was trailing by 6,000 votes. However–that all changed last Thursday, two days after the mail-in ballot deadline, when Sawant’s seeming loss began to evolve into a very close race. Her opponent, incumbent Richard Conlin, saw his lead drop to 4,250 votes, and by Monday, that once-promising number dropped to 1,237 votes.
Tuesday, something amazing happened! Sawant pulled ahead by 41 votes. By Wednesday, that lead widened to 402.–and she is still gaining momentum as votes continue to be counted!
Sawant, the first Socialist candidate to make it to Seattle’s City Council general election since Yolanda Alaniz’ defeat in 1991, and may be the first Socialist to hold office in Seattle in roughly a century.
Sawant began to draw attention as a prominent part of the Occupy Wall Street protests. Using that momentum, she ran unsuccessfully in 2012 against the Democratic House Speaker, suffering a crushing defeat. However, she simply picked up and moved on–and it seems that her efforts were not in vain!
A POWERFUL July campaign speech from Sawant
Sawant, an economics professor, speaks out heavily against income inequality. She advocates for rent control, an expansion of services for veterans, the homeless, low income families, the elderly, and the disabled, and an expansion of anti-bullying and Equality. Sawant wants to create an independent review board with full power over the Seattle Police Department in an effort against police brutality and profiling.
Sawant wants to raise the minimum wage in Seattle to $15 per hour, and institute a Millionaire’s Tax to fund mass transit, education, and provide “vital social services.” Of course, Sawant wishes to take steps to do away with corporate welfare, as well. “This is one of wealthiest cities in the wealthiest country in the world,” said Sawant. “For people to struggle for basic needs is absurd.”
What Sawant proposes would be challenging, but she feels she is up to it.
The Occupy Wall St. movement has been regularly criticized in the media, both left and right wing, for “lacking a coherent message,” and for “failing to produce leaders.” Sawant’s emergence as a strong alternative candidate may change that misconception. Could her election breath some fresh life into the movement, as well?
Interestingly, as most of the difference-making mail-in ballots are coming from younger and poorer citizens, we must ask ourselves: Are nationwide GOP efforts to make it more difficult to vote truly to offset voter fraud, or are they to ensure that someone like Sawant does not have a chance?
One way or the other, Sawant’s success in even coming this far is indicative of a deep hunger for political change in America–and it seems that the citizens of Seattle are taking the first bite!
To learn more about Kshama Sawant, feel free to watch this video of the October 18 debate against Richard Conlin: