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Kshama Sawant: Socialist City Council member in Seattle

Bloomberg (of all places):

Sawant, 41, is already helping reshape public policy in Seattle, the largest city in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

An economics instructor and one-time software engineer who emigrated from India in the 1990s, she defeated an incumbent Democrat by advocating the $15 hourly wage. Both of the city’s mayoral candidates embraced the idea. Since taking office, Mayor Ed Murray has given her a seat on his task force of business and labor representatives weighing how to phase in the higher wage -- more than 60 percent higher than Washington state’s $9.32 anhour, already the most in the nation.

Sawant has also rattled the business community, saying as chairwoman of the council’s energy committee in January that aproposed rate increase for the city-owned utility should fall on corporations rather than individuals.....

As a newcomer to the U.S., Sawant was struck by the extent of poverty in the world’s largest economy, and the lack of amenities even poorer places enjoy, such as mass transit.

And now the interesting part:

A year later, Sawant challenged the Democratic speaker of the state House of Representatives as a Socialist Alternative candidate. Worried that Occupy’s momentum was fading, the party wanted to run 200 independent Occupy candidates across the country that year, said Philip Locker, a Socialist Alternative spokesman who was Sawant’s political director. Sawant turned out to be one of the few candidates who actually ran.

Encouraged after winning 29 percent of the vote in the state house race, she returned a year later to run for city council, telling unions they were wasting their money by supporting Democratic candidates. ....

Sawant won endorsements and, in some cases, donations and volunteers, from six unions, including local chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Communications Workers of America, the Transit Riders Union and the American Federation of Teachers.

“It’s not some magic that Kshama got elected,” [Philip Locker, a Socialist Alternative spokesman who was Sawant’s political director] said. “It’s entirely replicable, if the labor movement was to put its money and resources and political might behind independent working-class candidates.

Listening, Union guys? Especially after Obama threw you under the bus on "Cadillac plans"?

The Democrats really need to know fear. So fund their competitors!

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V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...this is pleasantly surprising. The N.W. is somewhat provincial, but does have a healthy population of progressives. Afterall, Oregon elected Tom McCall as governor and then there was Wayne Morse.

Lambert: The Democrats really need to know fear. So fund their competitors!

Couldn't agree more; as long as it isn't a republican. The two parties are different siblings of the same mother...