Seattle’s political scene is turning nasty with formal recall efforts targeting Mayor Jenny Durkan and now her longtime nemesis on the Seattle City Council, Kshama Sawant.
A self-purported “grassroots effort” to recall Sawant was launched this week by District 3 resident Ernie Lou on on behalf of a “Recall City of Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant Committee.”
“While, the majority of the citizens in District 3 are very liberal, we strongly feel that Councilmember Sawant’s actions and policy proposals are not supported by a majority of District 3 residents,” Lou says in a statement on the effort. “As the legal process moves forward, the campaign will be focused on raising awareness of our campaign and raising money to help in our petition signature gathering effort.”
The complaints against Sawant focus on ethics and abuse of office issues that have already been the subject of complaint including the use of her office to promote the Tax Amazon initiative and the sway her Socialist Alternative political group has in her City Hall office. The recall organization also cites Sawant’s role in recent protests including a march and rally at Mayor Durkan’s home, providing access for a brief occupation of City Hall, and for creating “a Criminal Environment Around the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) Zone and Capitol Hill Endangering Residents and Businesses and Devaluing Businesses and Real Estate Values.”
Durkan had called on the city council to investigate a similar set of allegations but was rebuffed in July.
Durkan, meanwhile, is also facing a recall effort of her own where protests and CHOP play a large role in the allegations she has not done enough to quell civil unrest.
Other city leaders area also facing fallout from the summer of protest. In West Seattle, a threatened recall effort against city council rep Lisa Herbold has not advanced to the legal part of the process.
CHOP and the Capitol Hill protest zone are also the subject of a lawsuit against the city by a group of Capitol Hill real estate developers and small businesses. The city says the suit should be dismissed.
For the Sawant recall petition, a King County Superior Court judge will assess the complaints to make sure they meet legal requirements and the signature gathering phase can move forward. The recall effort would then have until early 2021 to gather just over 10,000 signatures — “25% of the total number of votes cast (42,956) in the November 5, 2019 general election for City of Seattle Council Position #3.”
In the meantime, Lou and supporters are looking for money to help with the campaign. “While only voters in District 3 are eligible to sign the petition, anyone can donate up to $25 to help pay for signature gathering,” the announcement notes.
Lou currently works as the development director at Capitol Hill nonprofit Three Dollar Bill Cinema where he is working to raise donations for the Seattle Queer Film Festival and the city transgender-focused Translations Film Festival.
UPDATE 8/20/2020 9:00 AM: Three Dollar Bill has released a statement on the recall effort distancing itself from “independent contractor” Lou:
It has come to Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s attention that an independent contractor for our organization is leading an effort to recall Seattle City Councilmember, Kshama Sawant.
Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s board of directors and employees had no knowledge of this campaign, nor are associated with this recall effort. The statements and actions of this contractor are solely his own and do not reflect or represent Three Dollar Bill Cinema.
Three Dollar Bill Cinema is a non-profit arts organization that strengthens, connects, and reflects diverse communities through queer film and media. The organization is committed to supporting diverse communities through queer film and media and has been working tirelessly to create space for connection, visibility and dialogue about the lives and experiences of LGBTQIA+ and QTBIPOC people.
We’ve asked Three Dollar about whether Lou will continue working with the film nonprofit and will update when we hear back.
UPDATE 8/20/2020: “Ernie Lou is no longer on contract with Three Dollar Bill Cinema,” a spokesperson tells CHS.
You can review the petition and learn more at recallsawant2020.org. The group’s full announcement is below.
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