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Politics Northwest

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

January 15, 2015 at 5:34 PM

Sawant gets second opponent in Seattle City Council race

Seattle’s socialist City Council member, Kshama Sawant, has picked up a second opponent in her 2015 campaign to represent the council’s super-liberal 3rd District.

Morgan Beach, who works for the American Red Cross, volunteers with Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and serves on the Seattle Women’s Commission, said Sawant’s bark is more impressive than her bite. “She’s been very good at getting headlines but less successful at actually passing policies,” Beach said.

The 28-year-old announced her candidacy Thursday, vowing to focus on gender equity.

Beach said the council needs to immediately move ahead with its plan to establish paid parental leave for city workers and should pass a law requiring private employers to do the same.

“People use women’s rights as a talking point but don’t take a lot of action,” she said. “Seattle has this reputation for being super progressive, but we’re not living up to when it comes to policies.”

Beach is a relative newcomer to Seattle. The Colorado Springs native moved to the city about 2 1/2 years ago. She lives in the Portage Bay neighborhood.

The 3rd District also includes Capitol Hill, Montlake, Madison Park and the Central District. The council is moving to geographic representation for seven of its nine seats in its elections this year. The primary election will be held in August followed by the general election in November.

In addition to Sawant, Beach is taking on Rod Hearne, who declared last week. Hearne is the former executive director of Equal Rights Washington, an LGBT political-advocacy organization.

Beach and Sawant mostly share the same politics, the candidate said. But where Sawant has sometimes positioned herself against other council members, Beach prefers collaboration, she said.

“We believe in a lot of the same things. But it’s about how you go about getting things done,” said Beach, whose work for the Red Cross involves corporate partnerships and fundraising.

“The council is not the mayor’s office. You need five votes to implement anything,” she added.

The 3rd District race will revolve around affordable housing and access to transit and health care, Beach said. Hearne “doesn’t seem to have a direct handle on those problems,” Beach said.

“I’m a renter and a nonprofit worker,” she said. “I live the affordability problem in this city.”

Comments | More in Local government, Politics Northwest, Seattle City Council | Topics: 2015 Seattle City Council elections, Equal Rights Washington, Morgan Beach

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