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Don’t call it a comeback: Sawant wins council race as Conlin concedes


Sawant on Election Night (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Ten days after a seemingly decisive election day win, incumbent council member Richard Conlin has conceded to socialist challenger Kshama Sawant. Conlin made the announcement at a 5 PM press conference on Friday after ballot numbers released an hour earlier put Sawant in 1-point lead.

Sawant’s improbable win marks the first time a socialist will take a seat on the Seattle city council in at least 100 years (maybe ever); she’ll also be the first Indian American and software engineer-turned-economist to take the post.

On election night Conlin was more than 7 points ahead of Sawant, with a 6,000 vote lead, but Sawant refused to concede the race. As ballots continued to be counted in the days after November 5th, Sawant steadily gained on Conlin. She narrowly surpassed him on Tuesday with 41 votes. By Thursday, Sawant had widened her lead to 1,148 votes, putting the election outside the margin that would trigger an automatic recount.

Sawant, a member of the Socialist Alternative party, championed pro-worker and anti-corporate causes during the campaign, including a $15/hr minimum wage, rent control, and a “millionaires’ tax.” She pummeled Conlin during several barbed debates, often referring to him as a defender of corporate and developer interests. Conlin has said this would be his last run for office.

Sawant is an economics professor at Seattle Central Community College and was an active member of Occupy Seattle. Depending on how her term goes Sawant could be a frontrunner for Seattle’s new Council District 3.


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15 thoughts on “Don’t call it a comeback: Sawant wins council race as Conlin concedes

  1. A little socialism wouldn’t hurt, especially when rents are rising faster in Seattle than anywhere else in the country. Working class people are struggling to survive in a city that’s less and less welcoming to them. One person like Sawant probably can’t do much to fight the landlords, developers and other assorted bigwigs, but at least we’ll finally have a real voice in the city council.

    • Brah,

      Everything is socially engineered.

      Why does your soda have corn syrup instead of sugar? Tariffs against sugar-producing countries and subsidies for corn growers in the ‘heartland’. Blam. Social engineering.

      Why do more people drive cars than ride bikes? Tax breaks for oil companies and government subsidies for road construction. Blam. Social engineering.

      Why do so many people work for Boeing in Washington and South Carolina? Why do its corporate folks go to work in Chicago? State-government concessions to Boeing. Blam. Social engineering.

      Why do some youngsters have better educational opportunities than others? Socially-constructed rules regarding property taxes, school districts, and charter schools. Blam. Social engineering.

      Why are Americans more religious than their Western European friends? Regulations governing relationships between the state and church. Blam. Social engineering.

      Who is a citizen? Socially-constructed rules regarding jus sanguinis and jus soli (or a combination of the two.) Blam. Social engineering.

      Perhaps it’s time to expand your reading list beyond ‘Harry Potter’? Start with the Noble laureates North and Ostrom. Then move on to any Seattle media outlet, A. Portes, L. Iannocone, R. Stark, and I. Bloemraad.



      • Bravo Bravo to you Dude Brah…social engineering is all around us; including the concept of -public education- where American kids can obtain a free education as opposed to times way back when public education was a pay-if-you-can endeavor. Social Engineering is alive and well on Planet Earth.

  2. I did not vote for Sawant (my choice was “Joe Schmo” because I couldn’t stomach voting for Conlin either), but I’m not at all sorry she won. Her more leftist ideas are very unlikely to get passed, but she will bring some fresh ideas for the City Council to consider. If nothing else, Council debates will be more interesting!

  3. You can also count me among the people who think this is a terrible development. The City Council is going to turn into a circus sideshow. You have to wonder if she’s going to get a reality check when she finds out that actual City Council work won’t be just a forum for her grandstanding.

    • She’s already stated that she won’t be working with any of her fellow Councilmembers. So expect lots of grandstanding, no accomplishments and then getting tossed by the voters in 2015.

      • I seriously doubt she has stated that she will not work with other Council members. Please provide a source/quote for your questionable assertion.

  4. Between Sawant winning, Murry being a fairly large question mark since he could run soley on “I am not Mike McGinn”, and the new districts for council this should be an interesting few years. Imagine if the campaign finance reform had pulled it out as well.

  5. Another candidate pushed upon us by The Stranger.

    That really worked out for us last time (McGinn)

    Im not thrilled about it but at least I voted. If you didn’t vote you have nothing to complain about.

  6. Pingback: How we voted: Precinct maps show Murray’s inroads into McGinn’s Capitol Hill | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle