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Supporters Rally as Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant’s Recall Petition Hangs in Balance

Supporters Rally as Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant’s Recall Petition Hangs in Balance

Alpana Varma
  • The Washington State Supreme Court has indefinitely postponed the ruling on the recall plea.

With the judgement on recall effort against Seattle city councilwoman Kshama Sawant hanging in balance, her supporters are going all out to fight and protest the recall effort, while those opposed to her and seeking her recall are quiet.

The Washington State Supreme Court was supposed to rule on the recall plea on Jan. 7. After being postponed to the next day, the court announced that a decision on the case was not to be expected “anytime soon.” The reason for the announcement is unknown,  but given the current political mood in the nation, it is also uncertain which way the court would rule.

The Kshama Solidarity group, which has over 11,000 members on Facebook and over 2,000 on Instagram, has seized this opportunity to launch a massive campaign in her support. On Jan. 9, the group held an online rally, ‘Defend Kshama Sawant: Rally to Reject the Recall.’ About 2,000 working people and progressive activists tuned in to the live session. Speakers included members of the Democratic Socialist Alliance (DSA) like New York state Senator Julia Salazar, Democrat, other elected socialists, activists and labor leaders.

On Jan. 16, the Kshama Solidarity group organized a fundraiser over Zoom in which about $27,000 were pledged, exceeding their target. Over 1,000 attended it and a host of speakers including union organizer Saron Crowley, Vancouver politician Jean Swanson and other activistis like Khan Hassan and Anil Wagde.

The following day, Jan. 17, at 3:00 p.m. PST, a phone bank was planned to defend the council member. The group’s statement says, “Seattle has won groundbreaking progressive victories in recent years — $15/hr minimum wage, the Amazon tax, landmark renters rights, a ban on crowd control weapons, and more,’’ attributing these gains to the winning combination of a fighting grassroots movement with a socialist voice inside City Hall.

Another online event — ‘Labor for Kshama Solidarity Rally and Fundraiser’ — is planned  for Jan. 23 at 3:00 p.m. PST. The Kshama Solidarity group says it is organizing the Jan. 23 rally because “Seattle’s ruling class can’t stand having even one socialist in office who fights unambiguously for working people. So now, barely a year after she was re-elected, they have launched a right wing recall campaign to remove her, with the help of billionaire donors like Martin Selig.” 

Yet another event is planned for Jan. 28 at 6:00 p.n. PST, called ‘Tax Amazon Action Conference.’ According to the group’s social media site, “Democrats in the state are working once again with big businesses to get rid of the citywide Amazon Tax our movement won last summer at the height of the George Floyd street protests.” It claims that in exchange for this “minuscule” statewide business tax, they will pass a ban on cities “double taxing” big businesses. The campaign for such a tax had met with success because of a big and bold movement for it and a similar fighting campaign is needed to defend this Amazon Tax, the group claimed.  

The petition had been filed by Ernie Lou, who describes himself as a very liberal Seattle native, an Asian American gay, whose social media sites are replete with anti-Trump and anti-GOP posts.

Sawant recently took to Twitter to decry the role of police and GOP over riots and storming of the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. Jason Rantz, a commentator at MyNorthwest, a local publication, has in turn criticized Sawant for “her hypocricy, once again feigning outrage for political gain, after helping lead a ‘“rebellion’” and “uprising” last year.” Sawant’s call for resignation of the head of police, was met with “for something she herself did — only worse — then defended it.”

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There has not be one breath of reaction to the delay in ruling by the Supreme Court from the group seeking her recall. The petition had been filed by Ernie Lou, who describes himself as a very liberal Seattle native, an Asian American gay, whose social media sites are replete with anti-Trump and anti-GOP posts. He claimed that he lost his job when he launched the Recall Sawant drive in August 2020, though his employer disputed the claim. Lou had been an independent contractor with ThreeDollar BillCinema, a nonprofit that produces the annual Seattle Queer Film Festival and the Translations Film Festival. He says he is far from the right wing, racist white supremacist that Sawant and Co., are making him out to be. 

However, the Kshama Solidarity group asserts that she is under attack from a right-wing, anti-Black Lives Matter lobby which has launched the recall campaign. 

The recall Sawant group’s charges against the council member include: 1) Using her office to lead hundreds of protesters into the city hall after hours. 2) Giving the political party that she is member of, Socialist Alternative, power over city hiring decisions. 3) Leading a protest march as a council member to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home, which is under the state’s “address confidentiality program” due to  Durkham’s former job as U.S. Attorney for Western Washington.

The recall plea went to the state Supreme Court after Sawant contested it in the Superior Court.


Alpana Varma worked as a Research Assistant at the Delhi University and then as a journalist for over 10 years for several leading Indian national dailies. After leaving India for Europe, she has been working as a teacher, translator and freelance writer and editor. She lived in Mexico briefly where she worked in intercultural communications. Currently she is based in Miami.

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