Post navigation

Prev: (11/26/19) | Next: (11/27/19)

8-1: As county makes legendary victory official, Sawant back to business at Seattle City Hall

Kshama Sawant’s dramatic victory in the race to retain her District 3 seat on the Seattle City Council was formalized Tuesday as King County Elections certified its November 2019 results.

In the end, it was not close. Sawant tallied a solid 4.13-percentage point win over challenger Egan Orion. Turnout across District 3’s nearly 75,000 registered voters ticked in at just under 60%, only a smidge below turnout in Ballard’s District 6. Across King County, voters produced a 49% turnout, well above predictions.

CHS reported here on the Socialist Alternative incumbent’s victory as Sawant overcame historic spending by the business community and large companies like Amazon and Expedia to unseat progressive candidates in Seattle. “Our movement has won our socialist office for working people,” she said. “The election results are a repudiation of the billionaire class…and the relentless attacks and lies…and working people have stood up and said Seattle is not for sale!,” Sawant said in her victory speech the Saturday following the election.


LOVE OUR STORIES? CHS needs your help! If you are a subject matter expert interested in writing a monthly CHS column, drop us a note. Or you can help us find great writers by becoming a CHS subscriber! Please get involved!

Though the votes cast by that Tuesday night would fall fully in her favor, the process for King County Elections to get there was a bit excruciating. Washington’s “by mail” ballots meant late voters — younger, more likely to be renters, and more likely to swing left — were counted late and their influence only slowly emerged under current tallying procedures.

But when the numbers turned, they turned sharply with Sawant grabbing more than 60% of late counts following the initial Election Night eight-point lead turned in by Orion.

For Orion, the Broadway Business Improvement Area’s head and director of Pridefest said the big money boosts to his campaign including an expensive mailer effort ultimately backfired. “Unfortunately, when Amazon dropped over a million dollars into the city council races just as ballots were sent out, our closing arguments were completely subsumed by national media attention with candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren chiming in on local city council races,” Orion said as he conceded the race a week after Election Night. “What had been a clear lead for my campaign became a much closer race than anyone expected.”

Sawant, now set to begin her third term, will become the senior member on the council with Bruce Harrell, Mike O’Brien, and Sally Bagshaw opting not to run for reelection. The backlash to the Amazon cash also helped Sawant secure key new allies in her fellow council members. The council’s two citywide representatives, Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena González, moved beyond past criticism and distancing from Sawant to embrace the Socialist Alternative leader and a slate of progressive candidates facing chamber and pro-business opposition — Lisa Herbold in D1, Tammy Morales in D2, Shaun Scott in D4, Dan Strauss in D6, and Andrew Lewis in D7.

Herbold, Morales, Strauss, and Lewis will also join Sawant when the new council convenes in January. Alex Pedersen, who downed Scott in District 4 representing the University District area of the city, was sworn in Tuesday to fill the seat left vacant by the early exit of Rob Johnson.

Sawant’s strengthened position will also have City Hall impacts outside of council chambers where she seems likely to remain an adversary to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s more moderate and business friendly approach.

Meanwhile, despite her new allyship and the expensive, hard fought battle to retain her seat, Sawant doesn’t appear to have changed her strategy or tactics when it comes to City Hall business.

Monday as the full council sat down to vote on its last major act with its current leadership to approve a 2020 budget package notable for a significant injection of homelessness and restorative justice spending, Sawant struck a familiar tone.

As she has in every council budget vote since she joined the body in 2014, Sawant Monday voted against the final $6.5 billion package saying the spending did not adequately address issues of racism and inequality.

With Sawant again standing alone, Monday’s vote approving the 2020 budget went 8-1.

“We are in a very wealthy city but which is also deeply unequal,” Sawant said in an interview with Africatown Seattle after the vote. “Especially when you look at the living standards and the situation that is faced by our communities of color, look at the massive gentrification, the school to prison and deportation pipeline — there his so much oppression and racism that we need to be organized against.”


LOVE OUR STORIES? CHS needs your help! If you are a subject matter expert interested in writing a monthly CHS column, drop us a note. Or you can help us find great writers by becoming a CHS subscriber! Please get involved!
Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

24 thoughts on “8-1: As county makes legendary victory official, Sawant back to business at Seattle City Hall

  1. Durkin is a rightwing corporarist. She, like Obama and Clinton and Biden, are Rockefeller Republicans wearing the thin veneer of Democrat for marketing purposes. She is not a “moderate” anything. Fuck that corporate propaganda bullshit, you should know better than that.

    • I think it is important to consider that a 52 to 48% margin is a close election victory, clearly within the margin of error for any election polling. Such a result is not an historic victory or a sweeping mandate. And I don’t say this to detract from her victory, but it would be nice if Sawant conducted herself with the knowledge that 48% of her constituents preferred another candidate. Why not recognize that constituency and try to address some of the issues about yourself and your agenda that motivated such spirited opposition.

      Sadly, her refusal to vote in favor of the city budget, another 8-1 vote, does not bode well for future cooperation. The only way we will ever move forward as a city and a country is to recognize it is better to govern in consideration of the opposition than it is to denigrate and demonize them. While this may be very challenging at the federal level, it should be a fairly easy lift locally because their is much greater agreement on major issues.

      So, in the next few years I hope our Councilmember becomes more gracious, more cooperative with her fellow Councilmembers, develops the ability to accept blame and share credit, and recognizes that she and her district can prosper if she listens more and speaks less. Happy Thanksgiving.

      • Not exactly surprising. She’s proven to be a contrarian time and again. If she doesn’t get to dictate the terms, she’s going to vote against it. Same way she considers a < 3% win a mandate.

      • 52/48 isn’t an unusual margin in American politics. 55/45 is considered a “convincing victory”. Since we’re on the topic, how come Orion couldn’t show more respect for the 52% of the electorate that voted against him? His “concession speech” was mostly “next time….”. I agree he got screwed by Amazon, though it’s by no means clear he would have won without their interferance. Kshama got out the vote, it’s that simple

      • Thank you, Glenn. I think that large numbers of Seattleites (including all the districts, not just D3) share your opinion about Sawant’s divisiveness. She would never win in a city-wide election.

        And to the comment above that Mayor Durkan is a “rightwing corporist” (is that even a word?)…..only in Seattle would anyone label her as that.

      • Bob, she already won city wide office. Her first election was before the district system was in place.

        The reality is that she has a strong base of support, and has won more elections than any other Seattle politician. She is now the senior member of government…

        You can say she’s divisive, and maybe so, but clearly the majority supports her. She’s just going to keep winning, which is probably why she doesn’t see the need to compromise.

      • Yes, Brendan, she did win a city-wide election. But that was before we got the opportunity to see her “govern.” I think the outcome would be significantly different in a city-wide election today. My two cents. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  2. OK I’m a 70 year old man trying to make sense of some of these socialists and their attitudes. So let me get this right:

    Because Sawant and Herbold and others feel the need to defund the Navigation Team, alot of that based on her and her supporters hate for the police which is your right. But you had a 10+ year plan. So where the hell did the last couple hundred million go to solve homelessness and housing?

    And the research and numbers show that the Navigation Team worked the first half of 2019, in cleaning up 200 unauthorized encampments(fires included), and they removed 700+ tons of garbage, needles, and human waste throughout the city.

    I’ve been out there trying to help. We TALKED to 5,000+ ‘homeless’ in 6 years. 80% DONT want help.Dream what you like.

    So does this mean that if defunded, I can expect Sawant and her supporters are the one’s that will pick up that damn trash?? Or will we all be forced to just deal with it..And if your the type person that thinks the homeless really needs HELP and that the homeless is waiting for help to ARRIVE, your in for a big surprise. Put your boots on and go see how many you bring back. Seriously.You go talk with those hardworking Navigation Team members, volunteers and others who tried to bring homeless people out of that misery..

  3. It will be interesting to see how long Mosqueda and Gonzalez remain Sawant allies. At least one of them….I forget which….is on record as saying that Sawant works very poorly with other Council members.

  4. Amazon and Burgess’ type of spending likely helped Orion get through the primary. His concession speech was not particularly gracious. Without their backing there is no way of knowing if he would have made it through to the general or how he would have done. Sawant has a real base of support here, and I am not sure how many people knew Orion before he became a candidate.

    • Yeah, the idea that Orion lost BECAUSE Amazon spent a ton of money on him is pretty delusional. I don’t think there’s any evidence that Sawant was in danger of losing…

      There was a poll that showed the city council was unpopular that caused Mike O’Brien and others to drop out and set up this narrative of this being a a “throw the bums out” election.. I am now very suspicious of that poll because the actual election seems to repudiate it… maybe it was a bit of electioneering.

  5. I see… when the “other” guy stands up for what they believe in, that’s being “ungracious” or “uncooperative”. When *your* guy stands up for what they believe in, that’s being “strong” or “brave”. I am so exhausted with the people who think Kshama should roll over on command to appease her councilmembers. Meanwhile, those same commenters cheer whenever Trump insults or belittles or denigrates anyone who has the audacity to disagree with him.

    It would be fantastic if all you hypocrites would take 5 minutes and have a little empathy for “them”, and recognize your rank hypocrisy. It won’t happen, of course; you think you deserve “respect”, which means “everyone must agree with me” because you’ve had a silver spoon in your mouth from a wee babe.

    • Thank you so much for this insightful post. It is almost as if you know me you have described me so well. Silver spoon, hypocrite, Trump supporter. You really nailed me.

      • Given there were a grand total of 16 Trump voters in my district in 2016 – yes, that is correct 16, no I didn’t leave any numbers left off, didn’t drop any zeros or miss any digits…. I think we can safely say there aren’t a bunch people hiding their rabid right wing tendencies here…

        Please stop being so ridiculous in attempting painting everyone who doesn’t agree with *you* as somehow being super far right, evil people who were born rich and hate poor people….

        The people here were and still largely are plain old working people who just aren’t Marxists… which is about as far left as one can get, so yeah, while most of them may be arguably further ‘right’ than you, that still doesn’t make them conservatives or Tumpers.

    • There is a big difference between those (like me) who are not Sawant supporters, and those who are supporting Trump (not me). Both of them richly deserve the criticism they are getting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.