Recall Fever: Seattle Socialist One of Hundreds Under Attack Amid Covid Ranks | Seattle


Recall attempts in the US in recent months have seen a fever rise in response to Covid-19 and racial justice battles, and a Seattle socialist city council member is the latest prominent seat targeted.

Opponents of Kshama Sawant have spent months collecting thousands of signatures to oust the councilor who became the first socialist on the Seattle council in nearly a century after defeating a Democrat in 2013. Last week, the recalls officially qualified for a December election.

The attempt to oust Sawant during her third term was based on allegations that she opened town hall to protesters during a protest, in violation of Covid-19 restrictions, used city resources on a “Tax Amazon” campaign and a march led to the home of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, although the address is protected by state secrecy laws.

There have been at least 500 recall attempts in the US this year, most of them in the West, according to Joshua Spivak, senior fellow at the Hugh L Carey Institute at Wagner College and author of Recall Elections: From Alexander Hamilton to Gavin Newsom. Although many did not qualify for the election, he said the number of attempts was already one of the highest in more than a decade.

“It appears that the restrictions related to the pandemic have increased the number of recall attempts,” he said. “To a much lesser extent, issues related to the Black Lives Matter protests and other social justice issues such as Critical Racial Theory doctrine have resulted in recalls that we normally don’t see – more of a national issue than one political debate on a purely local level. “

Just last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, turned down an offer to stay in office, fueled in part by security measures in response to Covid. Durkan also faced a recall in Washington state after allegations of mishandling protests, but the state Supreme Court suspended the effort last fall.

Spivak said, “You see the recall from Gavin Newsom and you may also remember the recall from Scott Walker and think this is a good weapon. Part of the problem, of course, is that Scott Walker and Gavin Newsom remember … in the end, neither of them worked. And both governors were probably strengthened by the recall. “

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states and Washington DC allow state officials to be recalled, while at least 30 states allow the practice in local jurisdictions.

The drive to oust Sawant was launched by a Seattle resident last summer, just two years after beating an opponent with unprecedented financial support from Seattle-based Amazon.

In April, Washington’s Supreme Court approved efforts to move forward, stating that three of the charges against Sawant in the recall petition were “material and legal sufficient to support the recall.”

The King County elections announced that they had accepted more than 11,000 signatures collected through the recall process, and they would stand for election in the December 7th election. The effort required approximately 10,700 signatures to move forward.

Sawant’s supporters have referred to this as their latest battle against big business, the right wing and the entire political establishment. They have also argued that the timing of the election is akin to voter suppression, saying their opponents coordinated their efforts so that they would expect a lower turnout during an election.

In response to the allegations, Bryan Koulouris, spokesman for the Kshama solidarity campaign, said the crowd was masked when visiting the town hall after hours. Sawant did not take the protest to the mayor’s house and does not know her address. He also said that Tax Amazon’s claim was misleading and that Sawant “did exactly what she was elected to do, which was to use her council to build the kind of movements necessary for working people.”

Sawant told the Guardian she wasn’t surprised that her seat on the city council was being threatened.

“I think this is happening now, obviously has a lot to do with our Marxist approach and the way we have used our position so effectively, absolutely refusing to be marginalized and at the same time absolutely refusing to be sell out… In this context, “We should expect such attacks,” she said.

Henry Bridger II, campaign manager and chairman of Recall Sawant, said he was not a billionaire but a Democrat. He also said the timing of the election was due to how long it took to collect and validate the signatures.

Bridger said he was happy to see the recall proceed as it already shows how many people in their district are not supporting the councilor.

“She thinks she is above the law and she isn’t,” he said. “We are very pleased that the citizens are now facing their voters. And they have to decide whether or not she broke the law. And with all of these signatures, it shows that there is great support in removing her from office and holding her accountable. “

The Seattle Times reported that this may be the first time a call to recall a member of the city council has reached voters.

Proponents of the recall raised over $ 637,000, according to the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission, while the Kshama Solidarity Campaign raised over $ 687,000.

The December yes or no poll is expected to be the only one on the ballot following the King County elections. If Sawant is deposed, voters will not vote for a replacement candidate; instead, the seat will be filled through an appeal process.

During Sawant’s tenure, she helped raise the Seattle minimum wage to $ 15 an hour – a first for a major US city – and helped secure more rights for tenants.

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