To cheers and sustained applause, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and other newly and reelected city officials were sworn into office today before a standing-room-only crowd at City Hall.
The usual formal ceremony in city council chambers was replaced with speeches that mixed calls for class struggle with pragmatic politics. Sawant got the biggest cheers from the audience that included supporters who waved signs supporting a $15 minimum wage. After taking the oath of office, administered by Nicole Grant, vice president of the Washington State Labor Council, both women turned to the hundreds of spectators packed into City Hall and raised their fists, a gesture that seemed to signal defiance from politics as usual and solidarity with working people.
Sawant also denounced the “glittering fortunes of the super wealthy” saying they came at the same time as the lives of working people and the unemployed “grow more difficult by the day.”
Murray, the city’s first openly gay mayor, also got sustained applause when he took the oath of office from former Governor and ambassador to China, Gary Locke, on a bible held by Murray’s husband, Michael Shiosaki.
In contrast to Sawant, Murray praised Seattle business for its innovation and creativity and suggested that the path to economic equality would need businesses support.
He also suggested that government could help improve people’s lives. He said he saw government as a place not for political posturing or ideology, but a place for pragmatism.More