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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

March 13, 2013 at 2:03 PM

Socialist candidate will legislate by mass movement if elected

Kshama Sawant, center, is running for Seattle City Council against Richard Conlin.

Kshama Sawant, center, is running for Seattle City Council against Richard Conlin.

As a write-in candidate last year against House Speaker Frank Chopp, Socialist Alternative candidate Kshami Sawant earned about 29 percent of the vote. That makes her her party’s great hope for this year’s Seattle City Council election. Sawant announced today she will challenge Richard Conlin, a four-term incumbent whom she said speaks progressive rhetoric but really serves downtown business interests and the wealthy.

Sawant, who teaches economics at Seattle Central Community College, got interested in politics during the Occupy Seattle protests in 2011. She knows she might not be able to beat a well-established candidate like Conlin, though she hopes to.

“As an activist, we measure our success by how much we were able to shift the debate,” she said. “We will be shifting the political conversation to the left.”

If elected, Sawant said, she would contribute most of her $120,000 a year salary to organizations that form mass social movements, since she thinks that is the best way to affect change. Her political goals include eliminating coal trains from Seattle railways and raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But she has no intention of working with other council members to get it done.

“If these people were inclined to to agree with our point of view, then these changes would already be happening,” she said. So to force change, she would start “mass movements” to pressure council members to support her legislation.

 

Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: kshama sawant, Richard Conlin

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