How’s this for an election-season squabble?
Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin is accusing challenger Kshama Sawant of a “lack of civic engagement” because she registered to vote two years after becoming eligible.
Conlin questioned Sawant about the timing of her registration during a recent candidate forum, and he mentioned it to a Seattle Times reporter.
Sawant registered to vote not long before running for a seat in the Legislature in 2012, according to records released by King County’s election division. She has voted in three of the four elections since, skipping this February’s.
Conlin registered in 1981 and has voted in 34 of the past 35 elections.
“It’s an indication of my commitment to civic engagement,” he said. “And her lack of civic engagement.”
But Sawant, who emigrated from India and moved to Seattle in 2006, says she only became a U.S. citizen in 2010.
Still, Conlin says it’s curious that Sawant didn’t register more quickly.
“Most people I know that become citizens are pretty excited about registering to vote right away,” he said, noting that Sawant was not registered in 2011 and thus has never voted in a Seattle City Council general election.
Sawant, who was active in politics before registering, explained the delay by saying that “you get used to not voting because it takes so long to get your citizenship because the process is not at all immigrant-friendly, so it’s very hard to get into the right frame of mind.”
“If the media is interested in tracking voting records,” Sawant added, “I would say the important votes to track are Richard Conlin’s consistent record voting for developers and not fighting for the interest of working people.”
Sawant, an economics instructor at Seattle Central Community College, is running against Conlin as a socialist. Conlin, a 16-year incumbent, says he has a record of getting things done.
The incumbent won under 50 percent in August’s three-way primary, while Sawant took about a third of the vote.