Recall Fever: Seattle Socialist Among Hundreds Targeted Amid Covid Rows | Seattle
Recall attempts across the United States in recent months have peaked in response to Covid-19 and racial justice disputes, and a Socialist Seattle City Council member has become the latest prominent seat to be targeted .
Opponents of Kshama Sawant have spent months collecting thousands of signatures in an attempt to oust the council member, who became the first Seattle council socialist in nearly a century after defeating a Democrat in 2013. The week Last, the recall effort officially qualified for an election in December.
The attempt to oust Sawant during her third term was based on claims she opened City Hall to protesters during a protest, disregarding Covid-19 restrictions, used up resources from the town for a “Tax Amazon” effort and led a march to the home of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan although the address is protected by state privacy laws.
In the United States, there have been at least 500 recall attempts this year, the majority in the west, according to Joshua Spivak, senior researcher at the Hugh L Carey Institute at Wagner College, and author of Recall Elections: From Alexander Hamilton at Gavin Newsom. Although many did not qualify for the ballot, he said the number of attempts was already one of the highest in more than a decade.
“It appears that the restrictions around the pandemic have spurred recall attempts,” he said. “To a much lesser degree, the issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter protests and other social justice issues, such as teaching critical race theory, have led to callbacks we don’t normally see. not – more a problem at the national level than a strictly local political debate.
Just last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, defeated a recall offer that was spurred in part by security measures in response to Covid, to stay in office. In Washington state, Durkan also faced a recall effort, after being accused of mismanaging the protests, but last fall the state Supreme Court overturned the effort.
Spivak said, “They see the Gavin Newsom recall, and they maybe remember Scott Walker’s recall as well, and think it’s a good weapon. Part of the problem, of course, is that the memories of Scott Walker and Gavin Newsom… neither of them worked in the end. And we can say that the two governors were strengthened by the recall effort. “
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states and Washington DC allow recall of state officials, while at least 30 states allow this practice in local jurisdictions.
The push to oust Sawant was started last summer by a Seattle resident, just two years after she beat an opponent with unprecedented financial backing from Seattle-based Amazon.
In April, the Washington Supreme Court allowed the effort to go ahead, declaring that three of the charges against Sawant in the recall petition “are factually and legally sufficient to warrant the recall.”
King County elections announced that it had accepted more than 11,000 signatures collected through the recall process, and would be on the ballot in an election on Dec. 7. The effort required around 10,700 signatures to move forward.
Sawant’s supporters have presented this as his latest fight against big business, the right, and the political establishment as a whole. They also argued that the timing of the election is akin to voter suppression, saying his opponents coordinated their efforts so that it would be in an election that they predict a lower turnout.
In response to the accusations, Bryan Koulouris, spokesperson for the Kshama solidarity campaign, said that the crowd was masked during the visit after the opening hours of the town hall, Sawant did not lead the protest until at the mayor’s house and does not know his address. He also said that the claim by “Tax Amazon” is misleading and that Sawant “is doing exactly what she was elected to do, which is to use her advisory office to create the kind of movement workers need. “.
Sawant told the Guardian that she was not surprised her seat on city council was in jeopardy.
“I think the fact that this is happening now obviously has a lot to do with our Marxist approach and how we have used our position so effectively, absolutely refusing to be marginalized and at the same time absolutely refusing to sell… In this context we should expect attacks like this, ”she said.
Henry Bridger II, campaign manager and chairman of Recall Sawant, said he was not a billionaire and was in fact a Democrat. He also said the timing of the election depended on how long it took to collect the signatures and validate them.
Bridger said he was happy to see the recall moving forward, as it already shows how many people in his district are not supporting the council member.
“She thinks she is above the law, and she is not,” he said. “This is something that we are really excited as citizens – she can face her constituents now. And they decide if she broke the law or not. And with all these signings, it shows that there is huge support for removing her from office and holding her accountable. “
The Seattle Times reported that this may be the first time that pressure to recall a city council member has reached voters.
Supporters of the recall raised more than $ 637,000, while the Kshama solidarity campaign raised more than $ 687,000, according to the Seattle Election and Ethics Commission.
The callback yes or no question is expected to be the only one on the ballot in December, according to the King County election. If Sawant is ousted, voters will not choose a replacement candidate, instead the seat will be filled through a nomination process.
During Sawant’s tenure, she helped raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $ 15 an hour – a first for a major American city – and helped secure more rights for tenants.