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Siege Mentality: Recall Effort Underway Against Seattle Socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant

Siege Mentality: Recall Effort Underway Against Seattle Socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant

Anu Ghosh
  • If the move gathers enough signatures in time, the earliest possible date for a recall vote would be a special election on Feb. 9, 2021.

A formal petition was filed Tuesday, August 18, requesting that the King County Elections Office begin the effort to recall City Council member Kshama Sawant. The complaint said that the council member had lost touch with her district and constituents. 

The petition accuses her of misusing her position as an elected Seattle leader, giving decision-making authority over her office to the Marxist organization ‘The Socialist Alternative’ and disregarding the City of Seattle’s hiring rules. It also states that Sawant misused council resources to promote a ballot initiative in early February.

Speaking to Komo-news, Ernie Lou, a self-proclaimed “bleeding heart liberal” who filed the complaint, said that “this is the grassroots citizens of District 3 of Seattle saying that we don’t support what you’re doing,” adding, “they were elected and voted in, but I really feel like the current makeup of the City Council does not represent the true values of the city of Seattle.”

Lou is a resident of Capitol Hill, where activists took over a six block area and held it for 30 days. “Councilmember Sawant’s actions have created a criminal environment around the Capitol Hill Occupation Protest (CHOP) Zone and Capitol Hill, endangering residents and businesses and devaluing businesses and real estate values,” states the petition.

Sawant is one of the most vocal supporters of the “defund the police” movement, and it was the controversial vote by the council to defund the Seattle Police Department earlier this month that led to the filing of the petition. 

Sawant is one of the most vocal supporters of the “defund the police” movement, and it was the controversial vote by the council to defund the Seattle Police Department earlier this month that led to the filing of the petition. 

The petition will soon be forwarded to King County attorney Dan Satterberg, who will then “conduct a technical review to determine whether the filing meets the statutory requirements to move forward.” If approved, the petition would move into the signature gathering phase. Lou would have until March 2021 to collect just over 10,700 certified paper signatures from registered voters, a number that would constitute 25 percent of total votes cast in the last District 3 election. 

That would then trigger a simple “yes” or “no” recall vote, which would have to take place on a previously scheduled election date. If Lou gathers enough signatures in time, the earliest possible date for a recall vote would be a special election on Feb. 9, 2021. 

Lou’s efforts, however, will face an uphill battle. Many of the accusations levied in the recall petition have come up frequently throughout Sawant’s tenure, and been rejected by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, which is appointed by the Council. 

We reached out to Lou for further comment, but he was unreachable. 

Facebook groups such as Vote Kshama Sawant Out and Kshama Sawant is a National Treasure have equal parts support and vitriol for the council member.

Emory Yip, member of the Vote Kshama Sawant Out group, doesn’t believe the petition is enough to have Sawant recalled. “She is crazy and unfit to hold elected office. Sawant has violated ethics rules by (mis)using city resources, webpage etc. to promote Amazon Tax. She also allowed protestors (BLM and Antifa) access to Seattle City Hall. She unlocked the door for them, endangering city employees!”

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Penny L. Pickett, in a letter to the city council, which was posted in the Facebook group, Vote Kshama Sawant Out says, “One council member (not naming Sawant directly) is beyond a socialist. It is an absolute tragedy what happened to Chief Best. Thanks to the Seattle City Council, it is a done deal,” she adds, “it is an idiot move. There is no coming back from that. Let’s also toss in a 50% deduction in the police budget…in the age of COVID, when evictions, job loss and depression are off the charts — great timing again!”

Chief Carmen Best, the first black woman to lead the Seattle Police Department resigned in August 2020 following budget cuts.

Attempts to reach the councilwoman via email and telephone proved unsuccessful. We learnt that she is taking “a few much-needed days off” after being the victim of several attacks — including eggs thrown at her door and a postcard with a bullseye on it, warning her to watch her back. 

Sawant was born in Pune, India, to middle-class parents — her mother was a school teacher and father an engineer — and grew up in Bombay. She had been troubled since childhood by poverty and the caste system in India. “You can say I was almost obsessed with the issues of poverty, exploitation and violence against women and lower castes” and wanted answers as to why the society looked the way it did, she told India Abroad in 2017.

She moved to Seattle around 2007. She says, she was convinced she was not temperamentally matched for a corporate job, commensurate with her degrees in economics and computer engineering, as she had never learned how to sell herself in a marketplace. It was after that she was drawn to the Socialist Alternative, and became an unapologetic Marxist. 


Anu Ghosh immigrated to the U.S. from India in 1999. Back in India she was a journalist for the Times of India in Pune for 8 years and a graduate from the Symbiosis Institute of Journalism and Communication. In the U.S., she obtained her Masters and PhD. in Communications from The Ohio State University. Go Buckeyes! She has been involved in education for the last 15 years, as a professor at Oglethorpe University and then Georgia State University. She currently teaches Special Education at Oak Grove Elementary. She is also a mom to two precocious girls ages 11 and 6.

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