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United States: Socialist local candidate wins 35% of vote, enters run-off

By the Kshama Sawant Campaign for Seattle City Council

August 8, 2013 -- -- Seattle voters sent a clear message to an out-of-touch political establishment on August 6 that they are fed up with business as usual, and are looking for an alternative to corporate-pandering politicians like Richard Conlin. Kshama Sawant, who was recently written off by The Seattle Times as “too hard left for Seattle”, won a stunning 35% of the vote, a number that will likely rise as late ballots are counted.

[Sawant is a member Socialist Alternative, the United States affiliate of the small international Committee for a Workers International (CWI).]

A majority of primary voters voted against 16-year Seattle City Council incumbent, Democrat Richard Conlin, who despite a massive fund-raising advantage and name recognition, received only 49%. Sawant and a second challenger to Conlin, Brian Carver, won the majority of the vote in the City Council Position 2 race.

[Sawant will now participate in the two-candidate run-off election with Conlin to determine who takes the contested position.]

“Working people in Seattle have a clear political choice for a change. If you want to fight for an alternative to the status quo, join us in the struggle for a citywide $15/hour minimum wage, a major expansion of public transit by taxing Seattle’s millionaires, increased investment in affordable housing, and implementing rent control”, said Sawant.

Sawant has earned the endorsements of The Stranger newspaper, four trade unions and prominent community activists such as Real Change founder Tim Harris.

Unlike Conlin, Sawant refuses to accept corporate donations. Her grassroots campaign has raised $25,000, predominantly in the form of small donations of $25 or less, and has mobilised over 125 volunteers. “We will make history by raising a grassroots army of over 300 volunteers, and run one of the biggest door knocking campaigns this city has seen to defeat Richard Conlin”, Sawant declared.

“Conlin has made clear where he stands, with corporations and the elite. By not representing the majority of struggling working people in this city, he has made himself obsolete.”

Sawants's campaign Facebook page at

Meet Kshama

“At a time of budget cuts, the Seattle City Council pays themselves nearly $120,000/year, more than any other council in the US except Los Angeles! If elected, I will only take the average worker’s wage and donate the rest to building social movements.” – Kshama Sawant

Sawant is challenging 16-year incumbent Democrat Richard Conlin for Seattle City Council. Sawant is an economics teacher at Seattle Central Community College and a member of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789. She was an activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and is a fighter for workers, women, LGBTQ people, and immigrants.

In 2012 Sawant won a historic 29% with over 20,000 votes as a Socialist Alternative candidate against the Democrat's Washington State House speaker Frank Chopp – the strongest vote for an independent left-wing candidate in the US in 2012, and the highest vote for a socialist in decades.

About the Kshama Sawant Campaign for City Council

While big business posted record profits last year, working people in Seattle face unaffordable housing, low wages, slashed social services and high taxes.

The Democratic Party has run this city for decades. The mayor and all the city council members are Democrats and are representing only a tiny spectrum of political opinion and the interests of the people of Seattle, namely Paul Allen and the richest 1%, along with Amazon, Starbucks, big property developers and downtown business interests. The 99% have no political representation.

As a city councillor, Kshama Sawant will use her position to help build, unite and give political voice to the struggles of low-paid workers, youth, people of colour, and all those who are shut out by the political machine that runs this city on behalf of the wealthy elite.

The Sawant campaign does not accept any corporate funding. Our financing relies solely on the support and sacrifice of ordinary people and activists.

While the Democratic Party pays lip service to working people, in reality both the Democrats and Republicans serve the interests of a tiny financial aristocracy. The Sawant campaign is an opportunity to break out from the prison of corporate politics.

We need to build a mass workers’ party drawing together ordinary people, youth and activists from Occupy, unions, environmental, civil rights and women’s rights campaigns to provide a movement-based opposition to the corporate political parties.

We live in one of the richest cities in the richest nation on Earth. There is no shortage of resources. Capitalism has failed the 99%. Another world is both possible and necessary – a socialist world based on the needs of humanity and the environment. Please support our campaign and join the struggle for democratic socialism!

[You can read more about socialists' experiences in municipal council elections HERE.]

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