Stranger-inspired, Capitol Hill professor switches races — Also, student debt march goes legit

Seattle Central professor Kshama Sawant announced Tuesday she will switch races in her quest to join the Washington legislature. As she squared off in this month’s primary against Representative Jamie Pedersen for the Capitol Hill resident’s seat in Olympia, the Socialist candidate fared well in a Stranger-inspired write-in effort against the 43rd District’s other legislator – Speaker Frank Chopp

CHS profiled Sawant and her Occupy-inspired campaign earlier this year including her calls for increased jobs programs, a $15 minimum wage, increased corporate taxes and an end to social service cuts. The Sawant campaign’s press release on the change and final tallies for the 43rd’s races are below.


The Kshama Sawant campaign will formally announce at their press conference that they are switching races in the 43rd Legislative District. Sawant, a Socialist Alternative candidate, will challenge Democratic House Speaker Frank Chopp in the general election.

This announcement comes in the wake of the unprecedented primary election results that have Sawant winning second place in both Positions 1 and 2 of the district. Sawant received over 9% against Democratic incumbent Jamie Pedersen in Position 1, and over 11% of the votes, as a write-in, in Position 2 against Chopp. Washington State law allows a candidate to switch positions in the same House District if they win second place both races.

“I think this result represents a real shot across the bow to the out-of-touch, arrogant Democrats that a Socialist with few resources was able to get such a vote in both races in the 43rd. This is not accidental. Working people are sick and tired of the relentless corporate agenda that Olympia is carrying through,” Sawant’s Political Director, Philip Locker, said.

Initially intending to run against Frank Chopp, the Sawant campaign decided to file instead against Jamie Pedersen, who was running unopposed, when they learned another anti-budget cuts, independent candidate was challenging Chopp.  “We want this campaign to challenge the big-business politics of the Democratic Party, which both Chopp and Pedersen represent. And we generally support left-wing, independent candidates who oppose the budget cuts to social services, so we decided to run against Pedersen,” explained Sawant.  Unfortunately, the other independent candidate dropped out of the race before the primaries, leaving Chopp virtually unchallenged.

From May to August, the Sawant campaign worked to expose the Democratic Party’s anti-worker agenda, gaining endorsements from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, Cindy Sheehan (leading anti-war activist and 2012 Vice Presidential candidate), and Pastor Rich Lang of the University Temple United Methodist Church.  The Stranger newspaper then endorsed Kshama Sawant as a write-in against Chopp.

“We welcomed the opportunity to campaign in both positions because, for us, this is about building a movement to stop the budget cuts, to show voters that the Democratic Party as a whole is culpable for the policies that have seen the state budget decimated in recent years.  Chopp and Pedersen have virtually identical voting records. Now that our campaign has won more votes as a write-in against Chopp, we have decided we can have a bigger impact by challenging the House Speaker.  As the second most powerful person in Olympia, Chopp is the architect of these attacks on working people and we look forward to debating him on these issues,” said Sawant.

(Image: SDNB)

Student Debt Noise Brigade goes legit
Meanwhile, some of Sawant’s strongest Capitol Hill supporters are again carrying their message to the streets in what has become a weekly protest against student debt — except, this week, the Student Debt Noise Brigade has a permit. Here’s a notice City Hall sent out about the parade:

Wednesday evening, August 22, some 60 students will participate in the Parade Against Student Debt on Capitol Hill in Seattle. They will assemble at 6 p.m. at Seattle Central Community College (1801 Broadway) and between 7 and 7:30 p.m. they will begin their parade through the streets with a Seattle Police escort.

The marchers, carrying instruments,  will head south on Broadway; turn east/left at E Pine Street; turn north/left on 11th Ave E;  turn east/right on E Thomas Street; turn north/left  on 11th Avenue E; turn west/left on E Mercer Street; turn south/left on Federal Avenue E; turn west/right on E Thomas Street; turn north/right on 10th Avenue E; turn west/left on E Roy Street; turn south/left on Broadway E; turn east/left on E John Street;  turn south/right on 10th Avenue E  to the Cal Anderson Park Fountain (1635 11th Avenue) where the parade concludes at roughly 9 p.m. 

Motorists may experience rolling slowdowns as the parade moves along on the streets.

Here’s what organizers say about the march — we’re checking to learn more about what drove the securing of a parade permit this week.

ROUTE FOR WEDNESDAY (8/22 — NOW AT **6:00PM**!!!)EVENT INVITE: https://www.facebook.com/events/450968784937761/

Please add your friends to the invite if you support us!

Don’t forget to get there by **6 PM** for the rally before the march (starting at **7PM** sharp)! Please stay for the picnic after with food from OPERATION: Sack Lunch! (THANKS OSL!)#SNDB #MicCheckWallSt

17 thoughts on “Stranger-inspired, Capitol Hill professor switches races — Also, student debt march goes legit

  1. has actually been pissing off most of the march for a while now by handing out their “Vote Sawant” stuff during the march, obviously (as illustrated by this well-meaning article) mischaracterizing the march as being pro-Sawant. MCWS and others have repeatedly asked them to constrain themselves to handing out their fliers at the end of the march, in the park where food is served, but they just don’t seem to give a shit and continue to capitalize (funny for supposed anti-capitalists, eh?) on the event in order to further their own agenda.

    Gawd. Socialist Alternative is just SO odious.

  2. Crazy that the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog would think that the SDNB would be pro-Sawant since she is the only candidate calling for free college education and a cancellation of all student debt, right? The article said “some of Sawant’s strongest Capitol Hill supporters are again carrying their message to the streets in what has become a weekly protest against student debt,” which is factual. It is not incorrect to say that some of the strongest supporters are marching in the weekly protest against student debt. SA members have consistently attended the marches in solidarity and to hand out flyers (i.e., carry the message to the streets). I’m sorry that you don’t agree that running working-class candidates that fight to expose the big-business parties and give voice to these movements is effective at building the movement (so it can be more than 40 people), which is absolutely necessary if it’s going to achieve anything. How does attacking an anti-capitalist, pro-worker campaign for handing out flyers (that call for the cancellation of student debt!) help the movement grow? We all want a better world and are working towards that end in different ways. There is room for debate, but what you wrote doesn’t help the movement against student debt, it only divides it.

  3. GIVE ME A BREAK. The only people attending who are comfortable with being called Sawant supporters are those handing out fliers, Jess. GREAT shilling for your favorite Trotclub. It doesn’t change the fact that MCWS has asked SA to stop that crap during the march and have issued a statement distancing themselves from the Sawant campaign. Saaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwyyyyyyyyy

  4. Geez! Come on, you two! This is not the place to argue over semantics. We can ask Sawant supporters to hand out fliers before and after events, but this is still a free country. Right? So, kindly ask Sawant supporters to hand out flyers before and after the march, and if they continue to hand them out during the march, then continue to ask them. Just do so in a kind and courteous manner without belittling them. Besides… They may ask YOU for your support should they have a march of their own. I’d be happy to support them, regardless of whether or not I support socialism. Personally, I’d love to see a Revolutionary Party come out of all of this.

  5. I have a question about the current goals of the “SDNB” marches. It was my understanding that, originally, it was to pressure Congress into continuing the lowered interest rate on student loans, and Congress has in fact done that, at least for now. So why is SDNB continuing to protest? Do they actually want all student loan debt to be forgiven? If so, that is an unrealistic goal and will not happen.

    If you take out a loan of any kind, it is your responsibility to repay it, or to suffer the consequences if you choose otherwise.

  6. I never said shut up. In fact, I said there is room for debate. Why do you continue with the strawman arguments and vitriolic ad hominem attacks? How can you not see that there is, in fact, a “movement” (call it what you want) growing behind student debt and tuition hikes? Not just in Seattle, but all over the country and the world. We’d like to see the movement grow in Seattle to include more students, workers, etc. and are working to that end.

    You never answered my question: How does attacking an anti-capitalist, pro-worker campaign for handing out flyers (that call for the cancellation of student debt!) help the movement grow?

    Instead of debating the issue (whether the SDNB being associated with the Vote Sawant campaign is helpful or not), you are just throwing insults. How does that further the discussion? I’m not saying that you don’t have the right to disagree, of course you do. But, the manner of your disagreement is ultimately unhelpful, in my opinion.

    And, “shilling for my favorite trot-club”? I am a member of Socialist Alternative and of course I am defending our campaign because I feel our tactic of running an anti-capitalist candidate in the election to help build movements and expose the big business parties is fundamentally correct. And you’re absolutely right that we are actively working to further our “agenda.” Our “agenda” includes building a movement against student debt! Our “agenda” is to struggle in solidarity with workers, youth, and all oppressed layers of society against the rotten system of capitalism. Of course we are trying to further that agenda.

    Finally, regarding your comment “It doesn’t change the fact that MCWS has asked SA to stop that crap during the march” –have we handed out any more flyers since the recent meeting with our members and the organizers of SDNB?

    Please answer my question about how attacking our campaign will help the movement against student debt. Asking this question does not equal me telling you to shut up, on the contrary. If I ask a question that means I am looking forward to reading your answer.

  7. While I agree that student loan debt is completely out of control, I am all for personal accountability.

    You want a job that pays well when you get out of college? Then get a degree that pays. It’s not that hard. Tech pays kids. If you want to make money in Seattle get a tech related degree. I realize to some people tech is not sexy at all and they want to focus on more artistic endeavors like creative writing, or Shakespearian theater. But these are passions that can be developed without taking out huge loans. I’m speaking from personal experience. I’ve been an artist my entire life, but I subsidize my living with working in the tech industry. Why? Because it pays.

    Nobody will forgive your loans, you made your bed. Nobody’s going to pay you $15/hr to bag groceries. It’s supply and demand. Very basic concept. Tech is in HUGE demand. That’s why Amazon is paying interns $70k a year starting. Get a degree that is in demand and you will not have student loan issues.

    Is it fair? No, but not much is. You can still follow your passions and make a great life. You just need to be flexible.

  8. @ Eddie. Oh okay, so we should only pursue degrees that have a big pay out? Brilliant idea. That sounds like a fantastic society. A society of solely tech workers. What a utopia.

    I am a social worker in serious debt. I would not have gone to grad school if I didn’t have to, but in order to get a job that even barely pays a living wage in the mental health field, you have to. Also, I am passionate about providing the best service that I can to my clients and wanted to get the necessary education. I now work at a large mental health agency in Seattle that pays me $17.00/hour–I could literally make more as a receptionist (P.S. this is about the best you’ll make in community mental health, give or take a few dollars). I supplement my work there with another social work job and work pretty much 7 days a week, 4 weeks a month. Yeah, maybe I “made my bed,” but the fact is that society needs people like me in order to function. So either debt needs to be forgiven, or mental health salaries need to go up…something has to give.

    Luckily there is such a thing a Public Service Loan Forgiveness, but it doesn’t kick in until you’ve worked for 10 years and frankly, I don’t know if I will even make it until then, I am so freaking exhausted. But I feel lucky that at least it’s on the horizon and feel that folks in other fields should benefit from similar programs. I would also like to see more financial counseling for those taking out loans…When I signed for my undergrad loans I had just turned 18 about the week before and had no true understanding of the fact that I was signing my whole freaking life away.

  9. @Idra – I wasn’t suggesting that everyone get a tech degree per se, rather, one should consider the financial reality of their field of choice before deciding to take on massive student loan debt.

    I congratulate you on your career decision. I’m sure you are very dedicated, and very good at what you do. You’re right that society needs social workers. That is an honorable job and you deserve my gratitude. I agree with you that we as a nation need to figure out a better balance so that someone such as yourself doesn’t have to work 2 jobs, 7 days a week to get by. I also agree that young people need better financial education before making life altering decisions like taking out student loans.

    I hope that life gets easier for you as you approach the 10 year mark and receive some loan forgiveness.

  10. @ Idra: Social work is a very necessary and admirable profession, but it is pretty well known to be a low-paying field. Were you not aware of this as you were making decisions to commit yourself to this line of work?

    It’s kind of like making a reservation at a restaurant you know is expensive, and then complaining about the prices after you have gone there.

  11. Cahloun’s right, as usual. It’s just too bad if only children of the rich, who can afford the tuition, are able to enjoy the easy hours and prestige of the social work profession.

    I’m with EddieG. Let’s have no more talk of debt forgiveness. Don’t bankers deserve a decent living too? How many more Goldman Sachs execs need to sleep in cardboard boxes in the park before you socialists come to your senses?

    I say keep all the money in the hands of the 1%, where it belongs. Sure, if recent graduates were not drowning in debt, they might be able to buy more consumer goods and thereby stimulate economic growth. That would make sense, but the United States has never been about making sense. If being stupid was good enough for generations of American lawmakers and presidents, it’s good enough for us. If we really try, we can have the greatest depression EVER.

  12. @etaoin shrdlu – you my friend are as misinformed as you are clueless.

    I have nothing to do with the 1% you so eloquently mention. I understand, the emotional response is so much easier than actually articulating well thought out responses.

    Bottom line kid, stop blaming others for your ills. You’re in charge of your own life. Take charge of it and empower yourself.

  13. @ calhoun: Of course I knew social work to be a lower-paying profession. But it was what I felt driven to do. I knew I would never be wealthy, but no, I did not expect to be drowning like I am, especially working 7 days a week. And again, even to get a pretty low paying Case Management job (like $15.00/hour), you really have to have your MSW, which in most cases is going to mean accruing some significant debt. I am not talking about some fanciful dream here: I went to school to get a practical degree to pursue a very specific career goal. But in this country, even such a grounded goal is only for the wealthy. Financially speaking, I would have been better off working clothing retail for the rest of my life. There is something wrong with this picture. Again, SOMEONE has to work these lower paying, but still essential jobs. So either we just cross our fingers and hope that philanthropic rich kids do it, or we make education in this country more reasonable (and hey, a little wage bump for social service worker would be nice…seriously society, get your freaking priorities straight!).

  14. @ Eddie: Thanks. I agree that one should be as realistic and pragmatic as possible when choosing an education path. But sometimes, the “practical” thing is to choose a lower paying field if that’s truly where your passion and talents lie. There has to be a way for people get the necessary education in those fileds without signing up for a lifetime of debt. And right now, there usually isn’t.

    Ugh, I hope things get a little more livable too. Because this is pretty nightmarish most of the time.

  15. Idra: I appreciate your comments, and also your obvious dedication to the work you were drawn to. But I think you are mixing up the issues here. OF COURSE education should be less expensive, but that is an extremely complicated problem and there are no easy answers, except for reducing the interest rate on federal student loans, which has been done (from 6.8% to 3.4%, I believe) at least for now. And OF COURSE you should have a higher salary, but that too is probably not going to happen, for reasons you know better than I.

    But all I and others are saying is that a person who takes out a loan is obligated to repay it and not expect it to be “forgiven,” whether it is a student loan or something else, like a mortgage. It is not only a legal obligation, but an ethical one as well.