We’re not surprised that the Seattle Times endorsed our corporate-backed opponent for Seattle’s District 3. Time and time again, the Seattle Times has viciously opposed pro-worker policies and been a mouthpiece of big business.
During our fight for 15 Now, the Seattle Times first tried to stop the $15 minimum wage, calling for people to vote “No on Seatac Prop 1 for a $15 minimum wage.” When it became clear that our grassroots movement for a $15 minimum wage had mainstream support, the Seattle Times changed tack, instead calling for every carveout possible to delay and dilute $15/hr.
When Councilmember Kshama Sawant spearheaded the struggle to Tax Amazon and Seattle’s biggest businesses, the Seattle Times didn’t just oppose this progressive head tax, they teamed up with corporate bullies like Jeff Bezos to rapidly whip up a repeal effort once it passed, with the headline: “Kill harmful head tax by citizen initiative.”
While Councilmember Kshama Sawant used every avenue possible to stand with teachers fighting for workers rights, fully funded education, cost of living increases and racial equality during their 2015 strike, the Seattle Times complained that “Teachers Threatening to Strike are Demanding Too Much.” And of course, Seattle's corporate newspaper of record regularly echoes the neoliberal, trickle-down politics of corporate developers in their fear mongering against our growing movement for rent control.
Their conservative record goes on and on: from their notorious endorsement of George W. Bush to opposing the 1098 tax on the rich in 2010 to fighting against the 2015 Move Seattle levy, and much more. This should all be no surprise coming from a publication owned by magnate Frank Blethen, who has made it his personal crusade to repeal the estate tax, or death tax — a tax which only applies to the wealthiest 1-2% of people in the country — in order to protect his multimillion dollar assets.
The Seattle Times’ endorsements predictably align almost entirely with those of the Chamber of Commerce and its corporate PAC, CASE. The CASE PAC's war chest includes a staggering $1,450,000 from Amazon for an attempted hostile takeover of City Hall, $155,000 from Vulcan against rent control, $30,000 from Puget Sound Energy (one of the region’s biggest fossil fuel polluters) against our Green New Deal. Joined by rich Republicans, big developers, and CEOs, the PAC has amassed an unprecedented nearly $3 million sum to try to swing City Council to the right. They’ve already spent a record-breaking sum of corporate cash, with our opponent already benefitting from more corporate PAC cash than any other candidate in Seattle City Council’s history.
We’re proud to not be endorsed by the Seattle Times or the CASE PAC, and to instead be endorsed by The Stranger, Seattle’s progressive newspaper, the 43rd LD Democrats (in their first ever endorsement of a non-Democrat), the King County Young Democrats, 17 unions, The Stranger, The Sierra Club, the Urbanist, and progressive leaders like Councilmember Mike O’Brien, state senator Joe Nguyen (described as “and AOC of Washington" by The Stranger), Cary Moon, Nikkita Oliver, Noam Chomsky, former Councilmember Nick Licata, and many more.
We’re up against not only a vicious onslaught of attack mail, corporate ads, and paid canvassers, but also a relentless smear campaign from the biggest publication in the Seattle area, with the Seattle Times hammering away on the message that “Kshama Sawant must go.” We can’t let these corporate interests buy this election. We need a powerful grassroots surge to get out our message of Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s proven record of winning change for working people and the need for bold policies like rent control and social housing to stop Seattle from being turned into a playground for the rich.
Pledges to continue to fight for police accountability and help fund LEAD, restorative justice programs
Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who is running for her second re-election from Seattle City Council District 3, announced today that she will not be attending the October 9 candidate forum organized by the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG).
The Vote Sawant campaign reported that the Councilmember will instead be attending the Police Accountability candidate forum on October 16, and that Councilmember Sawant will continue supporting community organizations advocating for police accountability and using the People’s Budget 2019 campaign to increase funds for non-incarceration and restorative justice programs, such as the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.
Councilmember Sawant said, “It is unfortunate that the rest of the City Council ratified a police contract last year that rolled back the hard-fought accountability, despite opposition from more than two-dozen community groups, and a joint statement from 40 from union members and leaders. As a public-sector union member myself, I strongly believe wage and benefit increases cannot be pitted against the need for workers to also stand united against racism, and the best moments of the labor movement have seen workers of all races and genders fight together for workplace rights and against oppression.”
“Both the political establishment and SPOG bear responsibility. SPOG has opposed any genuine discussion about accountability on numerous occasions. They pushed hard for the $160 million expansion of a police precinct, which was opposed by the #BlockTheBunker coalition and affordable housing advocates. They filed an unfair labor complaint against the City, and took out a full page Seattle Times ad calling on firing City Attorney Pete Holmes for trying to introduce body cameras. SPOG remained silent as their national affiliate endorsed Trump.”
Community Leader and 2017 Seattle Mayoral Candidate Nikkita Oliver said: “It is impossible to believe the Mayor and Police Chief's narrative of a reformed, more accountable SPD when the negotiated collective bargaining agreement effectively erodes away at the accountability legislation and protections for communities impacted by police brutality. Additionally, inviting right-wing groups like Safe Seattle to a closed-door, invite-only forum on public safety reveals to whom SPOG perceives itself to be accountable, and is emblematic of SPD's continued unwillingness to in good faith engage and earnestly hear from communities impacted by over-policing and police brutality on the issue of public safety; communities who have demanded and will continue to demand the City's divestment from the militarized police force and investment in community based alternatives and supports.”
With Chamber of Commerce funded candidates talking about “tracking systems” for homeless people, and echoing Republican “broken windows” talking points on crime, the Vote Sawant campaign is taking police accountability and public safety seriously.
Just this week, Deputy Seattle Police Chief Marc Garth Green tried to justify prioritizing arresting sex workers over expanding funding for community-based support services and alternatives to the criminal legal system like LEAD, by shockingly saying “And that comes from my experience of actually working the street up there and talking to the young lady who specifically told me that she was there to make money and enjoyed it.”
“Far too often, the conversation on police accountability has had to start at the grassroots level in the wake of tragic events, with the political establishment rushing to catch up, and the SPOG standing in opposition. I stand with the Movement for Black Lives, which has called for independently elected community oversight boards with full powers over police departments,” Councilmember Sawant added.
More than 500 people came out last week to watch the Seattle CityClub’s District 3 televised debate. Watch for yourself to see the clear choice between socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who unapologetically fights for working people in Seattle, and our opponent, who has received more corporate cash than any other City Council candidate in Seattle history!
- Kshama Sawant brings the voices of working people into City Hall. Our opponent calls that a “circus”. Claiming that politics should be more “civil,” Egan Orion referred to City Hall meetings as a “circus.” Kshama in response: “I am really pained, but unfortunately not surprised, to hear my opponent refer to ordinary people, genuine people, who are struggling to meet their basic needs, who come to City Hall to raise their voices, referring to that as a circus...that’s Mayor Durkan’s talking point...With this unprecedented inequality, what we’re seeing is the most uncivil and divisive thing that we’re seeing is the system itself, that makes untold profits for those at the top."
- Kshama Sawant supports rent control. Our opponent does not. Orion came out swinging against rent control, claiming that it is “unworkable” and that we shouldn’t be raising false hope given the statewide ban. Kshama in response: “After having won victory after victory, we now have momentum. Bernie Sanders has supported rent control. This is the bill that AOC just introduced yesterday [holds up a copy of AOC’s legislation on rent control]... Oregon has done it, California has done it, New York has done it. We can do it too”.
- Kshama Sawant is fighting for affordable housing. Our opponent argues for trickle-down economics. In response to Kshama’s op-ed on the ongoing displacement and gentrification in the Chinatown-International District, our opponent has claimed that what people actually want is “more market-rate housing,” and essentially referred to the affordability crisis as a problem that doesn’t exist. When our opponent tried to deny this, Kshama explained: “What we need is elected officials who will not play games, telling one audience what they like to hear and another audience the exact opposite answer during an election year. As you know, I do not play games. Whether you like what I’m saying or not, you will always get 100% the truth.”
- Kshama Sawant is not for sale to corporate buyers. Our opponent says corporate cash doesn’t matter. In response to our opponent using misleading statistics to claim that his campaign is “hyper-local,” Kshama said: “My campaign has hundreds more donations from District 3 and the city of Seattle than my opponent. And the local donors that our opponent is talking about — let’s look at some examples. Billionaire John Stanton, who has donated hundreds of dollars to Republicans. Richard Hedreen, owner of multiple hotels, and a known union-buster and Republican donor...and the list goes on and on.” Orion’s reponse? “The fact that some of our donors are Amazon executives...we’re proud that people in District 3 are chiming in with their money.”
When the debate came to a close, members of the audience laughed and booed as the debate moderators thanked Amazon for sponsoring the debate. The corporate sponsorship shone through clearly, as one of the questions included a plug for an Amazon product, while the three debate moderators (all white men) repeatedly refused to allow Kshama a chance to respond to attacks while granting Orion extra time.
Our opponent has said many times in this election: “It’s not us vs. them. It’s just us.” But what’s at stake this year is who runs Seattle: big businesses like Amazon, or working people.
Our campaign is fighting for rent control, the Amazon Tax on big business, and a Green New Deal. Led by Amazon, which has dropped $450,000, big business is fighting tooth and nail against these movements with an onslaught of corporate cash from their corporate PACs.
In a recent interview, our opponent disingenuously claimed that he “didn’t realize CASE [the Chamber of Commerce PAC] had political positions.” Yet he applied for their endorsement, said he was “honored” to receive it, and has been bankrolled by a record-shattering deluge on behalf of his campaign! We can’t let them buy this election. Please donate $15, $50, or $500 to stand with us — working people, against them — corporate bullies.
This week, over 250 people joined Councilmember Kshama Sawant and renters’ rights organizations to pack City Hall demanding universal rent control. The meeting featured Councilmember Sawant introducing rent control legislation to be discussed and debated. This very same week, in a clear sign of the national momentum for rent control, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced a similar bill for national rent control.
Dozens of renters, workers, and community leaders spoke in support of our draft bill for rent control in Seattle. A barista named Chris explained that she came to the meeting out of “desperation” because her rent for a bedroom in a shared house had risen $500 over three years: “This has to end, and rent control can stop landlords and big developers from pricing us out of our homes.”
Rents in Seattle have soared 69% since 2010. Studies show that when the average rent in a city increases by $100, homelessness increases by approximately 15%, often higher. With renters accounting for nearly half of Seattleites, these sky-high rents have pushed thousands of working families out of their homes or out of the city altogether, and Seattle was recently ranked the third most rapidly gentrifying city in the country.
We also need to fund public programs to provide an alternative to the failed private market. As Lea, a graduate student, renter, and member of UAW Local 4121, said: “Taxing big business to build the affordable social housing we need cannot come soon enough!”
As Councilmember Sawant explained, "building a powerful movement that can overcome what will be fierce opposition from the real estate corporations" will be the "most crucial part of winning rent control.” As reported in The Stranger, “Her opponent, Egan Orion, has been inconsistent on his support for the idea. He's told Capitol Hill Seattle Blog that he thinks rent control is "horrible," but more recently he called Oregon's rent control legislation a "more balanced remedy," though didn't advocate for any specific proposals.” At last night’s Seattle City Club forum, Orion again came out swinging in strong opposition to rent control.
Orion’s inconsistency on the subject of rent regulation may have something to do with the flood of developer money in this election, including a half million dollars in contributions from the real estate lobby to the Chamber of Commerce corporate PAC. Vulcan, one of Seattle’s most notorious development corporations, has alone contributed $150,000 because they are terrified of our movement.
Our campaign for rent control is off to an incredible start, but our enemies are powerful. To win rent control, we cannot let big developers buy City Hall. Please donate today.
It’s clear that the rent control movement has powerful momentum:
- Last week, Bernie Sanders released a platform for affordable housing which includes a call for national rent control.
- That same week, California renters won a major victory with the passing of a statewide rent control law.
- New Yorkers recently won important protections to extend and strengthen rent control — a clear indication that people with rent control want more of it, not less.
- Earlier this year, Oregon renters made history by making their state the first to pass a statewide rent control bill.
Now, Washington is the only state on the West Coast without rent control. We must change that, starting here in Seattle.
That’s why Councilmember Kshama Sawant is using her seat to support tenants’ rights organizations, housing justice activists, and community members in the fight for rent control.
We need to pack City Hall this Monday night, 6-8pm, as Councilmember Kshama Sawant introduces draft legislation for universal rent control, free from corporate loopholes. Join us!
Seattle is the most expensive city for renters outside of California. We urgently need rent control as an emergency measure to stop the economic eviction of so many working people and small businesses. This will require building a powerful movement to stand up to the landlord lobby and wealthy real-estate developers and investors.
When Kshama first ran for office in 2013 calling for a $15 minimum wage, the corporate establishment first said that it was impossible. As $15 gained overwhelming support amongst working people, big business used every argument possible to delay and dilute our movement. They said: won’t $15/hr in Seattle will hurt workers and the economy? Why not try a lower number? And don’t make Seattle an island — why not wait until $15 is passed in Olympia?
But we built a movement which stood up to the Chamber of Commerce’s attacks and fear mongering, and we won the first $15 minimum wage of any major city in the country. Now, $15 has passed in dozens of cities and seven states, and it has become a benchmark for progressive candidates.
If Seattle leads with a landmark rent control policy, citywide and free from corporate loopholes, we can set a powerful example to renters and activists across the country, just like with $15.
Renters, small businesses, and working people can’t afford to wait. And we can’t afford to let big luxury developers like Vulcan — one of the top funders of the CASE corporate PAC which is bankrolling our opponent — buy this election.
The stronger our movement, the better position we’ll be in to defeat the kinds of rent control loopholes inserted by the real estate lobby in other cities and states.
Please join us and help build the movement for rent control by coming to Monday’s important rally where Kshama Sawant’s draft rent control ordinance will be introduced. And donate today to re-elect the Councilmember money can’t buy.
59% of the 37th LD Democrats and 73% of the 43rd LD Democrats Environmental Caucus vote to support socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant against corporate-backed challenger Egan Orion.
On Monday night, nearly 100 Democratic Party activists and campaign supporters packed into the Ethiopian Community Center in Rainier Valley, among the most diverse and working class neighborhoods in Seattle. The first voting item on the agenda of this meeting of the 37th Legislative District Democrats was over who to endorse in Seattle’s District 3 race between Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant and Chamber of Commerce backed challenger Egan Orion.
Democrat Party activists on both sides had spent the previous couple weeks mobilizing 37th LD Democrats to the meeting, but even before the vote the broad smattering of red Sawant t-shirts and stickers in the room made clear who had a majority. While corporate PAC spending may have pushed Orion through the August 6 primary in a crowded six-way race, our victory with the 37th LD Democrats highlighted the growing backlash against the corporate cash flooding into the election. Corporate PACs have amassed a $1.7 million war chest, with Amazon alone contributing $450,000. They are backing candidates in all seven city council races and trying to buy their way to even greater political domination over Seattle City Hall.
As a proud independent socialist, not a Democrat, Kshama Sawant was not eligible for a formal endorsement. Therefore, Sawant supporters fought for a motion for “No Endorsement.” After three rounds of debate and voting, 59% of the 77 paid-up members in the room voted for “No Endorsement,” which was universally understood as a pro-Kshama vote. This was the largest vote ever for Kshama or any left independent candidate, to our knowledge, in the history of Seattle Democratic Party politics.
The final tally was just one vote shy of the 60% threshold needed to make “No Endorsement” the official position of the 37th LD Democrats. But it was nonetheless a powerful demonstration of Kshama Sawant’s support among rank-and-file Democrats as well as a clear rejection of Egan Orion and the outpouring of corporate PAC money behind his campaign.
Distrust in Orion’s claim to progressivism was palpable. For instance, our opponent shocked many with his willingness to use dishonest tactics when he had the audacity to distribute campaign posters across Seattle saying “No to Corporate PAC Money” — even after he applied for the Chamber of Commerce PAC endorsement, interviewed for it, publicly thanked the Chamber for their support, and received the most corporate PAC money of any of the 55 City Council candidates across the city!
Fighting for a Green New Deal
That same night, the Environmental Caucus of the 43rd Legislative District Democrats also met to make their endorsements. With 73% support, Kshama received the highest vote of any candidate in any of the city council races under consideration. This important victory sets up the bigger fight for the endorsement of the full 43rd LD Democrats scheduled for September 17.
The overwhelming support of the 43rd Democrats Environmental Caucus reflects the emphasis Sawant has placed on a Green New Deal for working people to make Seattle 100% renewable by 2030 since the beginning of her campaign, as well as her strong record on environmental issues on the Council. This call is linked to growing grassroots campaign in the city, and Kshama will be participating in an upcoming Green New Deal town hall meeting with District 2 candidate Tammy Morales and District 4 candidate Shaun Scott, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. The forum is linked to a wider effort to build a united front of labor and progressive forces to stop Amazon and the Chamber of Commerce from flipping City Council to the right.
A New Party is Needed
There is a wider significance to the fact that, faced with a choice between an independent socialist fighter for working people and a corporate Democrat backed by Amazon and Chamber of Commerce, a large majority of grassroots Democrats chose the socialist. This underscores the deep class divide opening up with the Democratic Party nationally.
During the debate at the 37th Democrats meeting, one Orion backer angrily threatened to join the Republican Party if his fellow Democrats continued down the road of supporting socialists. At the same time, some of the most active Democrats for Sawant have been quick to tell us they agree that building a broad socialist party for working people is needed.
The increasing class polarization of American politics, from local races all the way up to the presidential elections, is preparing the ground for socialists and working people to build our own mass party in the years ahead.
Thank you to the 75+ activists and community members who joined us for an incredible general election doorknocking kickoff for District 3’s socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant!
This year's primary election saw a flood of corporate cash, with our opponent Egan Orion benefiting from the most corporate PAC spending of any of the 55 candidates across the city! PAC spending is on track to shatter records for Seattle elections. This underscores what we’ve been saying all along: this election is about who runs Seattle — Amazon and big business or working people. As Kshama said in her speech at the kickoff rally, progressives and socialists need to unite to stop the Chamber of Commerce backed candidates who made it into all 7 city council races for the general election.
During Saturday’s kickoff we knocked on over 1500 doors with a volunteer team consisting of union members from UAW 4121, the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and more; middle and high school climate strikers; members of the Democratic Socialists of America and Socialist Alternative; and dozens of other supporters from the community. Many of our volunteers were out canvassing for their first time with our campaign, demonstrating the growing momentum for rent control and unity against the onslaught of corporate PAC money.
In the face of $1.7 million between 3 corporate PACs, the Kshama Sawant re-election campaign has built the strongest canvassing operation in the history of Seattle politics. Over 350 volunteers joined us to knock on 90,000 doors in the primary election. The $300,000 we raised came with a median donation of just $20 and more grassroots donors than any other candidate. We’ve used our doorknocking efforts not just to build support for Kshama Sawant, but also to invite community members to get involved in the movement for rent control.
As an unambiguous fighter for working class people, Councilmember Kshama Sawant has brought working people and our movements into City Hall. This year, big business is going all out to get a brazenly pro-corporate majority on the City Council. We must go all out to stop them from buying this election.
Join Team Kshama by adding your $15 donation, signing up to volunteer, and coming out to Bring the Rent Control Movement into City Hall on September 23, where the Seattle City Council's Renter's Rights Committee, chaired by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, will discuss a draft legislation for universal rent control for Seattle.
Please take one minute to register to join Councilmember Kshama Sawant on Thursday, September 26 at the Seattle City Council District 3 debate (tickets are free, but will go fast!). What’s at stake in this election is who runs Seattle — Amazon and big business or working people. As we face off against our corporate-backed opponent, we need all our supporters out to make sure the political establishment hears loud and clear: we will not let the Chamber of Commerce buy this election!
For this year’s primary election, Amazon poured $250,000 into the Chamber of Commerce’s corporate PAC (CASE). But that was just their down payment.
Now that Chamber-backed candidates have made it through in all seven of Seattle’s City Council races, Amazon has dumped another $200,000 into the CASE PAC, bringing their total to nearly half a million dollars.
Corporate PACs broke records with their spending during the primary alone. They are on track to triple the record, or more.
This level of PAC money in a local City Council election — nearly two million citywide, with $1.3 million in the CASE PAC alone — is completely unprecedented. But it also isn’t surprising.
A recent news story exposed some of the petty and vengeful tactics Amazon resorts to, like keeping a “burn book” of all those daring to speak out against the HQ2 handout of $3 billion. Here in Seattle, they are seeking revenge against the socialist who dared to stand against Bezos’ bullying during last year’s Tax Amazon struggle.
That’s why in a primary with a record-breaking 55 candidates running for office, our opponent Egan Orion received more corporate PAC money than any other candidate in the race.
Amazon is banking on Orion because they think he'll be another corporate politician who will loyally represent their interests on the City Council. They know that Councilmember Kshama Sawant is not.
We can’t let Amazon buy Seattle's elections. We need to unite progressives and socialists to fight back against the Corporate PACs. Your donation will help us build the strongest grassroots campaign possible to face off against Amazon’s massive war chest.
We’re honored to announce that Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien has endorsed Councilmember Kshama Sawant!
Councilmember O’Brien said: “Councilmember Sawant has pushed Seattle politics in a progressive direction in a way that few have. While I’m not a socialist, and Kshama and I have had our share of disagreements, we’ve worked together on many issues like the $15 minimum wage, the ‘Shell NO!’ campaign against Arctic drilling, on blocking the $160 million North police precinct, and now on the Green New Deal. Kshama is a strong woman of color who stands up to big business. I refute the negative attacks on her attempting to paint her as divisive because of her courageous positions. I find her to always be upfront, principled, and reliable, even if I don’t always agree with her theory of change or criticisms of other elected officials. We need to keep Kshama on the Council as a consistent voice for ordinary people, and to stand up to the attempts of the Chamber of Commerce to run City Hall.”
Kshama said in reply, “I’m honored to receive Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s endorsement. I’ve greatly valued working with Mike as a strong fellow progressive. We’ve found common ground fighting on many issues that have benefited Seattle’s working people.”
The stakes this year are higher than they have ever been. Across the city, pro-corporate candidates made it through the primaries in every district, backed by an unprecedented $1.7 million in corporate PAC money which aims to flip City Council to the right and roll back many of the progressive victories we’ve won over the years.
Now more than ever, working people and progressive candidates need to build a united movement to defeat corporate PAC money and win rent control, a tax on big business to build high quality social housing, and a Green New Deal.
We’re proud to be participating in a joint campaign event on September 15 with Tammy Morales (District 2) and Shaun Scott (District 4), calling for a Green New Deal in Seattle. Like Sawant, both Morales and Scott are facing pro-corporate opponents backed by the same Chamber of Commerce sponsored CASE PAC, though the PAC has spent the most for Egan Orion, our opponent in District 3.
Councilmember O’Brien joins a growing list of progressives supporting our re-election campaign, including The Stranger, Sierra Club Washington State Chapter, The Urbanist, National Women’s Political Caucus, Nick Licata, Cary Moon, Nikkita Oliver, and Noam Chomsky, along with 15 labor unions representing workers in public schools, hotels, universities, the postal service, and healthcare.