The Indian-born former computer engineer and community-college instructor, who knocked off incumbent Richard Conlin in 2013 under the banner of the Socialist Alternative Party, has rapidly become one of the council’s most influential members.
“Without a doubt, Kshama has moved the council in a new direction,” said Councilmember Nick Licata. “More progressive. More sensitive to social and economic justice. The other members are inclined to go there, but Kshama is pushing them. Kshama has made things happen that never would have happened before.”
Skeptics say the council member wields limited power. She rarely casts a swing vote, and some of her ideas, such as her push to revamp Seattle City Light’s electricity-rate structure, have flopped.
But the bully pulpit, not the legislative sausage factory, is where Sawant is most effective and where her star power is an asset. The same week as the Chamber conference, a poll showed Sawant had the most name recognition on the council.
It also indicated how polarizing she is: Sawant had the council’s second-highest favorable rating and, at the same time, the highest unfavorable score. Sawant’s supporters praise her for bucking “The Seattle Process,” while her detractors roll their eyes at her righteous rhetoric and claim her approach does more harm than good.
The debate will yield a winning side soon enough, because Sawant already is up for re-election. With the council moving to election by geographic district for seven of its nine seats this year, Sawant is running in the 3rd District, which includes the Central District and Capitol Hill. She has two challengers so far.
Read the full article here.