Sawant and the People’s Budget rallies for increased funding for affordable housing, shelters

Socialist Alternative Party community organizer Kailyn Nicholson introduces Council member Kshama Sawant as the first speaker at the People’s Budget 2018 at Seattle City Hall, Saturday, October 6, 2018. This was Sawant’s fifth year hosting the People’s Budget. (Image: Ryan Phelan)

By Ryan Phelan, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

Concerns for affordable housing, homeless shelters, tenants rights, workplace protections and Indigenous Peoples Day stoked criticism of the mayor’s proposed budget at the People’s Budget rally hosted by District 3 representative Kshama Sawant on Saturday.

“This budget that Mayor Durkan has proposed this year is not even a business as usual budget,” said Kailyn Nicholson, a community organizer for Socialist Alternative, Sawant’s political party. “This budget is even worse than that. This budget is flat out regressive.”

The People’s Budget, hosted at City Hall, is a political movement that rallies yearly for progressive change in the proposed Seattle budget. Several speakers and attendees focused on affordable housing initiatives. Less than 1% of Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed budget is allocated for affordable housing, Sawant said. Continue reading

‘Coffee with Kshama Sawant’ — District 3 representative holds rare community meeting

(Image: @cmkshama)

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant met with a standing room only crowd of constituents to discuss issues ranging from affordable housing and gentrification to low internet speeds and privacy at Squirrel Chops, a coffeeshop in Seattle’s Central District, Saturday morning.

“There’s a lot of issues facing us as a district with skyrocketing rents and hypergentrification and we’ve certainly seen the increase in gun violence,” Squirrel Chops co-owner Shirley Henderson said while introducing council member Sawant. “A lot of that is tied to our economic reality and the shifts that are happening.”

Sawant, who came with her husband and dog, opened the event by highlighting her struggles for $15 per hour minimum wage and Friday’s King County Superior Court ruling that upheld a Seattle law that capped move-in fees for renters. She also noted the broad struggles ahead in terms of achieving economic equality and racial justice.

“We are all getting screwed together,” Sawant said. “Ultimately, whether you’re talking about city politics or state level, we’re going to have to build movements to win any of these things.” Continue reading

What we heard at the ‘March on Amazon’ as Seattle business tax fight comes to a head

With reporting and photography by Alex Garland

With its planned vote on a new tax on its largest 3% of Seattle businesses, the city will be up against history Monday afternoon, District 3 representative and Socialist Alternative firebrand Kshama Sawant said Saturday as she prepared to lead her “March on Amazon.”

“This will be a historic victory,” Sawant told CHS. “This will be seen by every city where Amazon is building towers. But also every city in the United States. Because every city is facing a housing and homelessness crisis.”

But first the deals must be struck. Saturday’s march and rally from Capitol Hill on the massive Seattle employer came as Seattle City Hall contemplates two futures for a tax on its largest companies to help pay for affordable housing and homelessness services in a booming city where the problems of people living unsheltered is teetering on disaster. Continue reading

Rising anxiety has made mental health a Capitol Hill area growth industry

Newly opened businesses in the area around Capitol Hill and the Central District might give an indication of one of the growing needs of a booming population.

Mental health care providers have brought their practices to the area to meet the exceeding demand for centrally located counseling services. In 2017, CHS noticed that the City of Seattle recorded counseling offices to be the second highest number of new businesses in District 3.

“I was busy immediately and had as many referrals I could take from the get go,” said psychotherapist Lisa Hake, LMHC GMHS, who moved her practice from Bellevue to Madrona last year.

To be a licensed mental health care practitioner, providers must have a minimum education of masters degree and meet Washington’s licensing requirements. Reported lowered barriers to access and decreased stigmatization has led to overall industry growth, while the rise in business locally is attributed by many we spoke with to a widespread increase of anxiety, spurred by our current socioeconomic and political landscape. “You can’t say to people that this is a safe place anymore, the world. It really wasn’t before, but it’s obvious now that it’s no longer true,” said Jason Franklin, LMHC in Madison Valley. Franklin primarily works with intersectionality. Continue reading

Top 20 new District 3 businesses: Rideshare driver tops the list by a mile… again


Even with growing evidence that driving for companies like Uber and Lyft can be a real grind, the greatest bulk of entrepreneurial energy around Capitol Hill and the Central District continues to be professional drivers.

According to tax information from the City of Seattle, the “transit and ground transportation” category was, again, the single largest category of new businesses started in District 3 ZIP codes last year, topping its nearest rival with nearly six times more companies started in the area in 2017. Continue reading

Time to start narrowing down these 134+ ideas for improving District 3 streets and parks

134 new ideas were submitted in District 3. You can view details of each submission on the Your Voice, Your Choice project map

Citizens across Seattle submitted more than 1,000 pretty good ideas — and probably three or four dumbs ones — in this year’s first phase of the Your Voice, Your Choice neighborhood grant process to divvy up around $3 million for street and parks improvement projects.

134 of those brilliant ideas came from Seattle’s District 3 stretching across Capitol Hill, the Central District, Montlake, and Madison Park. The effort to winnow those ideas down to manageable few begins Tuesday night with a project development meeting for ideas submitted in D3’s northern region from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at the Montlake library: Continue reading

Checking in with District 3 rep Sawant and the 2017 People’s Budget

This Thursday, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant will host the People’s Budget to create a movement demanding specific funds stay or be added on to city’s final budget.

We’ve heard it before: “The Seattle City budget is a moral document that reveals the values of our city’s elected officials.” That’s an unsurprising opening line from Sawant. As a socialist, she is steadfast in asking for more on behalf of the disenfranchised, low-income and marginalized.

She feels the primary concern in her District 3 is no different than greater Seattle.

“The paramount concern is the same concern with most working people in this city: The cost of existing,” Sawant tells CHS. “It affects families. It affects small businesses.”

People’s Budget 2017

The councilperson points out how Seattle’s rising rent costs are usually discussed in terms of the private citizen. But it also affects the commercial realm. She thus held a business forum and plans to hold one again in the future. Continue reading

District 3’s Sawant fighting defamation suit from officers who shot Che Taylor

Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant faces a defamation lawsuit from the Seattle Police Department officers who shot Che Taylor last year. Sawant filed for a motion to dismiss last week.

The officers, Scott Miller and Michael Spaulding, claim she used the fatal shooting while naming the officers to further her own administrative agenda and political platform. The lawsuit filing itself says the two “do not want one red cent of public money.” Their claim alleges Sawant called the officers murderers and stated their decision to shoot Taylor as a product of racial profiling before the two had their day in court. Continue reading

Tax the rich? Trump-Proof Seattle coalition makes push for city income tax

Homelessness, affordable housing, addiction, education — You can stop pretty near any barstool discussion of progressive policy in “liberal Seattle” cold in its tracks with this gem: “Too bad Washington doesn’t have an income tax!”

Wednesday, a coalition of advocacy groups visited City Hall to make the case that Seattle should go it alone with an income tax on high earners. Led by the Transit Riders Union, the Trump Proof Seattle coalition says it wants to create a new income tax in Seattle that would institute “a 2.5% tax on unearned income, comprising capital gains, interest and dividends” and households “with total (adjusted gross) income over $250,000.” Advocates say they could move forward by collecting signatures to put the initiative on the ballot this fall or by structuring the tax so it could be carried forward by the Seattle City Council and adopted directly into city law.

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant is a fan of moving on the new tax directly. Continue reading

Sawant leads protest against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Kshama Sawant has turned her power to raise a crowd and bring activists into the streets of Seattle onto a new target: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — I.C.E.

“The movement’s demands are clear: Free Daniel! No Ban! No Wall! No Raids! Not One More Deportation! Free those in detention! Shut down the private prisons used by ICE, including the Northwest Detention Center! Full Civil Rights and Legalization for All!,” Sawant said in a statement released before a Friday protest and march organized by the City Council member and District 3 representative for Capitol Hill and the Central District.

The protest drew around 200 people to the downtown federal courthouse where hearings have been underway in the case of 23-year-old Daniel Ramirez Medina, a participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program whose detention by I.C.E. has drawn widespread criticism and concern. Continue reading