Recall Sawant representative Henry Bridger (Image: CHS)
Backers of the campaign against City Councilmember Kshama Sawant are hoping to put the recall question to District 3 voters on a special election ballot of its own, a campaign representative said at a Thursday afternoon press conference in Cal Anderson Park following Thursday’s state Supreme Court decision allowing the recall to continue.
Henry Bridger, campaign manager and chair of the Recall Sawant campaign, said the recall vote cannot appear on the August primary ballot and officials have told the campaign a special election can’t be held between the primary and the November General Election. The recall campaign backers also don’t want to appear on the General Election ballot, Bridger said.
High turnout could be a concern with general elections typically bringing out higher rates of participation. But this D3 question could be different. With the 2021 elections deciding both a hotly contested mayoral race and the two citywide seats on the Seattle City Council, there may be concern about the recall question driving heavy turnout in District 3, potentially impacting the massively important races.
“This is about her, not about electing someone,” Bridger said Thursday at the Cal Anderson press conference when asked about the strategy. Continue reading →
The recall of Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant can go forward, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday. A spring and summer of signature gathering, rallying, and campaign flyers awaits.
Organizers outlined four acts they say that warranted sending the recall to the ballot. Most of the charges were from 2020 and relate to her response to protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
The court did not uphold all of the allegations made by the recall effort, arguing that one of the acts outlined was legally insufficient.
In September, the King County Superior Court certified a recall petition against the socialist council member on the four allegations, which was simply ruling on whether the charges outlined could be grounds for removal. That court was not ruling on whether or not the allegations were true. Two allegations from the original proposed petition relating to Sawant’s involvement in protests at the East Precinct and the formation of CHOP were dropped by the recall group’s attorneys.
With the court denying Sawant’s appeal, the recall proponents will have up to 180 days to gather a little over 10,000 signatures — or 25% of the nearly 43,000 votes cast in her November 2019 race — to send the issue to the ballot.
Sawant’s political fate will now move into the hands of District 3 voters.
“The recall law in Washington State is inherently undemocratic and well-suited for politicized use against working people’s representatives, because there is no requirement that the charges even be proven true,” Sawant said in a statement following the decision. “In effect, the courts have enormous leeway to use recall elections as a mechanism to defend the ruling class and capitalist system. It is no accident that Seattle’s last elected socialist, Anna Louise Strong, was driven out of office by a recall campaign for her links to the labor movement and opposition to World War I.”
“Big biz and the right wing are furious about the impact of socialist politics and social movements in Seattle & how we have inspired working people around the country,” the campaign formed to defend Sawant against recall posted on Twitter after the decision. “They are now trying to use the courts & their deep pockets to overturn Councilmember Sawant’s 2019 re-election and the historic victories she has spearheaded.”
After facing a deficit on Election Night 2019, Sawant clawed back to defeat Broadway Business Improvement Area leader Egan Orion by around 4% — or less than 2,000 votes — and now sits as the longest serving member of the city council.
The recall effort argues Sawant misused her office and flouted coronavirus social distancing restrictions in opening City Hall to hundreds of protesters one night last June. Continue reading →
December will bring new developments in Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s appeal of the recall case against her to the State Supreme Court.
Sawant’s legal team launched the appeal in October following a King County Superior Court judge’s decision that allowed the recall effort against the District 3 representative and longest serving member of the council to move forward.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to take up and decide on the appeal January 7th in a session in which legal briefs from Sawant’s team and lawyers for the Recall Sawant campaign will be considered but there will be no oral arguments. Continue reading →
The City of Seattleis covering the legal costs in Kshama Sawant’s fight against a recall campaign. The incredibly popular socialist leader’s fans — most also Seattle taxpayers — are giving to the cause, too.
“We’ve set a goal of raising $100,000 by October 31st, the end of our first full month of fundraising,” the pitch for the Kshama Solidarity fund reads:
We need to make abundantly clear to our opposition that working people won’t stand by while our movement is under threat. Defending Kshama’s city council seat is critical for continuing to build the movement to defund the Seattle Police Department by at least 50%, to win progressive funding for community programs and affordable housing, for community oversight and control of the police, and for working people to continue to have our voice in City Hall.
The Sawant fundraising effort officially registered with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission last week with an opening filing of nearly $30,000 in donations — most in amounts of around $150 or less, and most from people listing Seattle addresses. Continue reading →
UPDATE 4:44 PM: The recall campaign can move forward. Judge Rogers ruled Wednesday that the charges in the case are sufficient to certify the petition on the four allegations argued in the day’s hearing and that the matter can now move forward to the election process meaning signature gathering to place a vote on the ballot.
In the decision, Rogers outlined his role as gatekeeper and noted there is evidence to support both the recall effort and Sawant’s responses to some of the alleged improprieties. “(I)n this proceeding, this Court’s role is not to weigh factual disputes over allegations,” Rogers writes, “but to examine whether, if the the allegation, taken as true, are sufficient.”
Details on the four allegations that will move forward in the recall process are below. The full response from Rogers is embedded here..
Sawant was scheduled to make a speech to supporters following the decision. According to a Sawant representative, Sawant will launch an appeal supported by the City Attorney.
Judge Jim Rogers, top right, Iglitzin, top left, and McKay, bottom during the Wednesday morning videoconference hearing
UPDATE 12:30 PM: The closure of City Hall this summer due to the COVID-19 crisis and Kshama Sawant’s appearance at a protest outside Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Northeast Seattle home could be key factors in the decision on whether the recall effort against the District 3 councilmember should move forward.
In a Wednesday morning hearing, Judge Jim Rogers heard Sawant’s legal counter arguing against certifying the recall petition against her that would clear the way for a ballot decision on her recall next year.
In his presentation to the judge, Dmitri Iglitzin of the Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt law firm representing Sawant argued the recall effort lacks “specificity” and said the issues cited are political and not legally substantial. “This is not a campaign event,” Iglitzin said.
Meanwhile, Davis Wright Tremaine lawyer John McKay representing the recall campaign said Sawant’s acts including opening a COVID-closed City Hall to protesters and participating in a protest in front of the “confidential” location of the mayor’s residence are violations worthy of the recall being sent to the ballot. Continue reading →
UPDATE 9/15/20 3:10 PM: The council has voted to approve the expenditure to be supervised by the City Attorney’s office:
Pursuant to RCW 4.96.041, the necessary expenses of defending Councilmember Kshama Sawant in any and all judicial hearings to determine the sufficiency of a recall charge shall be paid by The City of Seattle, including all costs associated with an appeal of the decision rendered by the Superior Court concerning the sufficiency of the recall charge. The representation of Councilmember Sawant shall be supervised by the Seattle City Attorney.
ORIGINAL REPORT: The Seattle City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday afternoon over whether the city should pay the legal bills of District 3 representative Kshama Sawant as she fights the recall effort being organized against her by a group of Capitol Hill and Central District-area residents and business owners.
The proposed ordinance would cover “the legal representation of Councilmember Kshama Sawant in judicial proceedings concerning a recall charge; paying expenses necessary to defend Councilmember Sawant in those proceedings,” according to the text of the bill posted as part of the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. Continue reading →
Mostly quiet since the effort was announced, Kshama Sawant supporters are ready to make some noise in support of the District 3 representative in opposition to a campaign to recall the Socialist Alternative city council member.
Surprisingly quiet following Mayor Jenny Durkan’sveto of police department budget cuts, Sawant’s office is planning a September 16th Kshama Solidarity Rally to defend the veteran City Council member “against the right-wing recall campaign.”
“Seattle’s working people need to stand together against the right-wing attempt to silence Councilmember Kshama Sawant and the Black Lives Matter movement with a recall campaign!,” a message sent this week to Sawant supporters reads. “The recall campaign, if successful, would overturn last year’s re-election and push our working-class representative out of office.” Continue reading →
The Tax Amazon campaign is being hit with a $2,500 fine by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission over late filings on more than $100,000 in contributions.
“The Tax Amazon 2020 Committee (the “Committee”) filed 25 C-3s reporting almost $100,000 in contributions multiple days late,” a letter sent to the campaign’s manager Eva Metz last week reads. “In addition, a C-4 that showed how much money the campaign had on hand in mid-July was filed almost a month late, and another amendment showing an additional $23,000 in spending was filed today.” Continue reading →
Sawant during a June protest outside Durkan’s house organized by the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America
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.” Continue reading →