Howie Hawkins Applauds The Victory Of Kshama Sawant In Seattle City Council Race

Above image: Sawant declares victory in front of Tax Amazon banner November 2019

By Howie Hawkins

Kshama Sawant has served on the Seattle City Council for six years as its first socialist elected in nearly a century. She has taken on big business interests and worked on behalf of working people and the poor.

Amazon, Seattle’s largest private employer, targeted her reelection to a third term. Amazon spent $1.5 million toward city council races with nearly half a million dollars focused on removing Sawant. These were massive expenditures for Seattle City Council races. Sawant won with nearly 52 percent of the vote running on a left-wing, socialist platform.

Initial returns showed her losing but when the final count came in, buoyed by a late surge from the working class and youth of the district, Sawant declared victory, from a podium in front of a bright orange banner with the words “TAX Amazon.” Taxing Amazon to pay for housing for the homeless was the issue that led to Amazon’s effort to remove her from office and change the city council. She led the effort for a “head tax” on large companies of $275 per employee per year to fund housing and homelessness initiatives.

The Socialist Alternative candidate said in her victory speech “Our movement has won our socialist office, for working people. The election results are a repudiation of the billionaire class…and the relentless attacks & lies…and working people have stood up and said Seattle is Not For Sale!” She defined her victory as a victory of the working class and attributed it to the ideas that she has put forward as a candidate and on the council that drew in working people, who are tech workers, students, nurses, housing activists, security guards, Uber drivers, and communities of color as well as those who did not want to see Seattle become “a playground for the rich.”

Her priorities in her next term in office, policies which I share, include rent control, a Green New Deal for working people and increasing taxes on the wealthy and big companies. She was able to use Amazon’s money against her opponent as it made it clear that Amazon did not want her in office, which played into a national mood of anger at the unfair economic system and a repudiation of the billionaire class.

Sawant ‘s hard-won victory is part of a larger victory for working-class people. Amazon and its local business community agents and proxies fielded and heavily financed a slate of 9 business-friendly candidates. Of the nine, seven were defeated. This a clear indication that the community wants a long-overdue change in business…and politics…as usual.

Howie Hawkins is seeking the Green Party nomination for president. He is a co-founder of the Green Party and is seeking to build a Unity Campaign that unites people on the left from progressives to socialists.

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About Kevin Zeese

Kevin Zeese is a public interest attorney who has worked for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace since graduating from George Washington Law School in 1980. He co-directs which works to build the independent movement for transformational change. Zeese co-hosts, Clearing the FOG a radio podcast which airs on We Act Radio, Progressive Radio Network, and other outlets.  He is recognized as a leading activist in the United States in the series Americans Who Tell the Truth. Zeese was an organizer of the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC in 2011.  He serves as president of Common Sense for Drug Policy and is a co-founder of the Drug Policy Foundation, now known as Drug Policy Alliance as well as a former director of NORML. He is a co-founder of Health Over Profit for Everyone which seeks to put in place National Improved Medicare for All. Zeese is an advocate of Internet Freedom and is a leader of the campaign for Title II Net Neutrality to ensure equal access and treatment for everyone on the Internet.  Zeese served on the steering committees of the Chelsea Manning Support Network which advocated for the Wikileaks whistleblower and is on the advisory board of the Courage Foundation which supports Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, and other whistleblowers. Zeese is an election integrity advocate who a co-founded TrueVote Maryland which led a successful campaign to end the use of paperless voting machines in the state.  He has been active in independent and third party political campaigns including Peter Camejo for governor of California served as press secretary and spokesperson for Ralph Nader in 2004 and as a senior advisor to Jill Stein in 2016.  He ran for the US Senate in 2006; the only person ever nominated by the Green, Libertarian and Populist Parties of Maryland and the only person ever nominated by the Green and Libertarian Parties for a statewide office. Zeese served as Attorney General in the Green Shadow Cabinet.

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