WA Supreme Court says recall effort against Seattle Councilwoman can proceed

Seattle’s Socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant could face a recall election this year, thanks to a ruling by the Washington State Supreme Court Thursday. (Screen Snip, YouTube, KCPQ)

The Washington State Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday the recall effort against Socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant can move forward, opening the door to a signature-gathering campaign and possible election later this year that could boot her out of city hall.

According to the Seattle Times, recall petitioners have 180 days to gather more than 10,000 signatures from residents in Sawant’s council district, which includes parts of Seattle’s Capitol Hill and Central District. The recall effort is being spearheaded by Ernest Lou, who started raising money last year. The newspaper said he has raised more than $294,000 and spent more than $107,000 so far. Sawant’s recall defense campaign has raised more than $309,000 and spent more than $182,000 of that.

Sawant has been a firebrand since first being elected in 2013, defeating incumbent Richard Conlin. She appealed to the working class and renters. The openly socialist council member last year opened the doors at City Hall one evening for a protest, which is one of the offenses the state high court used to allow the recall effort to go forward.

The other offenses were Sawant’s lead of a protest at the home of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in violation of city code, and the use of city resources to promote a ballot initiative to “Tax Amazon.”

As noted by KING News, Sawant’s opening of City Hall to allow the protest during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Sawant has become something of a national figure. She has become a lightning rod among critics of left-leaning municipal governments. A former economics professor at Seattle Central College, according to the Times article, Sawant and Councilman Nick Licata back in 2014 promoted a “head tax” on large companies in an effort to raise funds to support King County Metro bus services. It resulted in an uproar with downtown businesses, according to a history of the movement at Wikipedia.

In 2018, Sawant promoted a “head tax” proposal that brought out construction workers to an open air news conference outside of Amazon headquarters during which they shouted her down by chanting “No Head Tax.”

The campaign supporting Sawant is called the “Kshama Solidarity Campaign.” According to the Seattle Times, her supporters are claiming the court ruling “gave the green light to the billionaire-backed, right-wing recall,” an assertion that may not be supported by the facts. There will reportedly be a rally to support Sawant this Saturday on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

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