I’m incredibly proud to announce our victory! Together, we defeated the determined efforts of the world’s richest man to buy Seattle City Hall. Thank you for all your support and sacrifices.
With mail-in ballot returns as of Friday night, we’ve surged from being eight points behind on election night to leading by 3.6 points and 1,515 votes, with that number likely to rise even further as the final thousand ballots are counted.
These election results are a repudiation of the relentless attacks of the billionaire class and the lies of the corporate establishment. Working people have stood up and said loud and clear: Seattle is not for sale! We want to keep our socialist voice in City Hall.
We won a stunning 60% of the later ballots, which come overwhelmingly from young and working-class people. While our district includes some of the wealthiest parts of the city — and is home to many members of the corporate elite like billionaire Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz — more working-class areas and neighborhoods with many young people and people of color, like Seattle’s Central District and Capitol Hill, voted decisively for our campaign. Many such precincts voted for us by more than 70% even on election night's initial returns.
Our votes also show support amongst those who may not themselves be struggling but who share our vision for a city that is affordable for all working people and reject Seattle being a corporate tax haven for big businesses like Amazon.
We should be incredibly proud of what we accomplished in the face of a record-breaking corporate onslaught.
Amazon dropped a staggering $1.5 million to stop taxes on big business. Vulcan and the Washington Association of Realtors spent a combined $380,000 against rent control. And Puget Sound Energy, one of the region’s biggest polluters, spent $30,000 to stop a Green New Deal.
But we didn’t back down. Instead, we built the most powerful grassroots campaign Seattle has ever seen.
Over 1,000 volunteers helped us knock on over 225,000 doors and make 200,000 phone calls. 7,900 working people chipped in to the campaign. We raised $570,000 with a median donation of just $20, smashing all previous records for both the number of donors and the total amount raised.
But our work is not over — it is just beginning.
Our campaign was a referendum on the Amazon Tax. I look forward to working with this new, progressive Council to pass a tax on Amazon and Seattle’s biggest businesses. This Council has a responsibility to the working people who elected it. There is huge momentum citywide to fight for rent control and a Green New Deal for Seattle.
Can you chip in $15, $50 or $500 to help our campaign lay the basis for these struggles?
Moving forward, I appeal to you to immediately join our fight for a People’s Budget. The Council released a draft budget last week that, while reflecting some important concessions to the demands of our grassroots organizing, is still essentially a “business-as-usual” budget. Please join us to reject another austerity budget and fight for affordable housing, restorative justice, and renters’ rights: come out to our People’s Budget Rally and Press Conference this Wednesday, 11/13, 8:30am at Seattle City Hall, followed by the City Council budget committee discussion.
None of this would have been possible without the support of Socialist Alternative, the grassroots organization I am a part of, whose members have contributed incredible amounts of time in the struggle for our re-election campaign, as well as many other struggles. We are fighting for a socialist world that puts people over profits, built on sustainability instead of climate catastrophe — a society based on solidarity, democracy and equality. Please join us and subscribe to our newspaper.
Watch this morning's press conference for a longer statement on our victory.
Finally, join us next Saturday, 11/16 at 6:00pm to celebrate our victory and begin discussing next steps — RSVP here.
Yesterday’s latest ballot returns were very promising — we received 59.6% of the latest ballot count of 6,000 additional ballots, bringing the difference between our vote count and our opponent’s from over 8% down to 2.5% (48.52% for us vs 51.02% for our opponent)!
Our chances of defeating Jeff Bezos in this election have greatly increased. Approximately 14,000 votes remain to be counted, and we could secure a majority if this trend continues. This also means that it’s more important than ever to fight for every vote!
We set an ambitious goal of raising $15,000 by Saturday, when we will launch a major grassroots effort to make sure that every vote is counted in this extremely close election. This could make the difference between defending Councilmember Kshama Sawant's historic seat for working people or losing our seat to big business. Can you contribute $5, $25, $250 — whatever you can — during this crucial time?
We’ve faced the most aggressive corporate onslaught in the history of Seattle’s elections, and possibly of any city council election campaign in the country.
Amazon poured in a record-breaking $1.5 million to stop taxes on big business. Vulcan and the Washington Association of Realtors spent a combined $380,000 against rent control. And Puget Sound Energy, one of the region’s biggest polluters, spent $30,000 to stop a Green New Deal.
But we didn’t back down.
Imagine the confidence of working people in Seattle — and across the country — to fight for this type of progressive change if we can successfully stop the corporate establishment and the richest man in the world’s most determined efforts to buy our city.
We know that that Amazon will leave no stone unturned. They will challenge votes in an effort to disenfranchise supporters. They will cure ballots too.
The worst mistake we could make at this moment would be to take our foot off the gas.
We have a goal of mobilizing 150 volunteers to launch a ballot curing push this Saturday, 10 am at Langston Hughes Institute — RSVP here! We will revisit supporters whose ballots were “spoiled,” usually because they didn’t sign their ballot, to make sure that their votes are counted.
We have to hit our fundraising goal of raising $15,000 by this Saturday in order to fund this major grassroots effort. Your donation will make it possible for us to maintain a staff of field organizers, rent community spaces to organize trainings on ballot curing, and inform voters about the need to correct their ballots.
We know that working people like yourself have made incredible sacrifices to make this campaign possible, but we're asking you to dig deep and make one more donation to a campaign that’s not for sale to the highest corporate bidder.
Thank you in advance,
CMs Mosqueda & González, State Senator Rebecca Saldaña, State Rep Nicole Macri & UFCW 21 Endorse CM Sawant!
Other new endorsements include Seattle Medium, InlandBoatmen’s Union of the Pacific, AFT 3914, Marcos Martinez*, Executive Director of Casa Latina, and Debbie Carlsen*, Executive Director of LGBTQ Allyship
Seattle City Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and M. Lorena González joined Amazon workers and Councilmember Kshama Sawant at a rally yesterday at the Amazon Spheres, attended by over 100 people, called by Amazon workers outraged by their executives' decision to make a $1 million donation into the Chamber of Commerce CASE PAC. All three spoke out against the brazen attempt of Amazon executives to buy Seattle’s elections.
Today, Councilmember Mosqueda endorsed Councilmember Sawant: “Here in Seattle, we’ve elected pro-worker, pro-union champions and we are unapologetic in our fight to build worker power. That’s why corporations are running scared and have dumped millions into Seattle City Council races because they want to roll back our progressive gains. This election, stand with the workers and voters who demand their voices and votes count, and against the million-dollar check aimed at buying this election. I urge District 3 residents to vote for Kshama Sawant, who I’m proud to serve with on City Council, so we can continue to fight for workers’ rights, and show that our democracy is not for sale.”
Councilmember González also endorsed Councilmember Sawant, saying: “With Amazon fighting all of us, it’s not about whether you’re a Democrat or a socialist. What matters is our movement, our call to build a more just city, fundamentally built on our progressive values. That’s why I urge District 3 voters to support Kshama Sawant, along with the slate of progressive candidates running in other districts.”
Councilmember Sawant was also endorsed by State Senator Rebecca Saldaña, who said: “I am Rebecca Saldaña, the State Senator who represents the 37th LD that includes parts of District 3 and District 2. I endorse City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant for District 3. Her leadership was critical in securing the $15 minimum wage and establishing the Office of Labor Standards so that workers’ rights are protected. Kshama has been an effective, critical voice in speaking up for communities of color and immigrants and the ongoing fight to make Seattle affordable for all. It’s not okay that one oversized company, Amazon, thinks it can buy our city’s election. Democracy of and for the people matters. That is why I am supporting Kshama and progressive candidates running in every district because we need to put people before one big business’ profits.”
Washington State House Representative Nicole Macri also endorsed: “At a time of unprecedented inequality in our city, Kshama has been diligent and consistent in her work for justice and equity. She has stood with the LGBTQ community, communities of color and immigrant communities, and she has emphasized the urgent need for a Green New Deal. We may not agree on everything, but Kshama is always willing to discuss tough issues and to listen. I’ve been grateful to partner with her in the fight to protect renters and expand affordable housing. Now is the time to send a clear message that our city is not for sale to corporate interests like Amazon. We need advocates like Kshama in City Hall who will stand up for our democracy and who will stand with the diverse communities of central Seattle.”
In response to the endorsements, Councilmember Sawant said: “I’m proud to receive the endorsement of my fellow Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Lorena González, and from State Representative Nicole Macri and State Senator Rebecca Saldaña. It is critical that progressives and socialists are uniting against big business and their blatant attempt to buy the elections. We stand together in saying that Seattle is not for sale! These corporate interests don’t just want to defeat me and other progressive candidates like Shaun Scott and Tammy Morales, they want to roll back the historic victories working people have won in Seattle, like the $15/hour minimum wage, the hotel workers bill of rights, and our landmark renters rights policies.”
In addition to today’s endorsements from elected officials, community leaders and labor unions also endorsed Councilmember Sawant’s re-election campaign.
Sawant was endorsed by United Food and Retail Workers 21, the largest private-sector union in Washington State with over 46,000 members. In a press release, Faye Guenther, UFCW 21 President, said, “We are drawing a line in the sand to defend our democracy. We’re not going to let Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and the Chamber of Commerce buy our City Council. We need people-powered politics to keep Seattle livable for ordinary people. We don’t need wealthy CEOs and corporations calling the shots.”
Councilmember Sawant was also endorsed by the InlandBoatman’s Union of the Pacific, and the American Federation of Teachers 3914. Altogether, 20 unions have now endorsed Kshama Sawant, representing over 120,000 workers in the Seattle area. In addition, Sara Nelson*, the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, which represents 50,000 flight attendants nationwide, including in the Seattle area, offered her support in personal capacity to Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s re-election campaign.
Councilmember Sawant was also recently endorsed by Seattle Medium, which is the largest African-American owned and operated communications company in the Pacific Northwest.
Marcos Martinez*, Executive Director of Casa Latina, has also endorsed Sawant, saying: "Kshama Sawant has been a steadfast and principled champion for working people and immigrant communities and she has earned re-election to the Seattle City Council. We cannot allow our democracy to be undermined by million dollar campaign contributions from large corporations like Amazon that target our most progressive city councilmembers. Re-elect Kshama Sawant!"
Debbie Carlsen*, Executive Director of LGBTQ Allyship, endorsed, saying: "Kshama is a voice on the council that supports workers rights, tenant organizing, LGBTQ rights and supports the leadership of community based organizations to be apart of the solutions of the communities they serve. This is why I support Kshama."
Carlsen is joined by other prominent leaders in the LGBTQ community who have endorsed Sawant, including LGBTQ community leader and activist Mac McGregor, Shirley Henderson, Co-Owner of Squirrel Chops, a small business in District 3, and Mike Andrew*, LGBTQ Labor Activist and King County Labor Council Executive Board Member.
*Endorsing in a personal capacity
You may have heard about how Amazon has given $1.5 million to the corporate PAC behind our opponent, but have you heard about all the wealthy Republican donors joining in?
Here are just a few of the more than one hundred wealthy Republican donors who have donated to our opponent’s campaign:
* Seattle hotel mogul and notorious union buster
* Owner of the only two Washington hotels on the AFL-CIO’s national boycott list
* Major donor to the Republican Party of Washington
Donation to our opponent: $500 (maximum)
PAC donations: $40,000 to CASE, $10,000 to “People for Seattle” corporate PAC
* Venture capitalist and chairman of Trilogy International Partners, a $70 billion communications investment corporation
* Owner of the Seattle Mariners
* One of the top Republican donors in Washington State
Donation to our opponent: $500 (maximum)
PAC donations: $25,000 to“People for Seattle”
* Former CEO of Boeing
* Major donor to the pro-Trump PAC, Victory 2016, and the Republican Party of Washington
* Funded notoriously anti-LGBTQ Republicans like Dino Rossi, Jaime Herrera Beutler, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Donation to our opponent: $500 (maximum)
And then there are the wealthy Trump donors:
Image source: The Stranger
What about our opponent makes him the darling of prominent wealthy Republican donors? As The Stranger’s Rich Smith explained in an article titled, “Republican Donors are Pouring Money into Egan’s Campaign:”
Is Orion up for sale? He has been quite impressionable so far this campaign season. Early on he told The Stranger he wouldn't accept an endorsement from CASE, but now he welcomes their endorsement. Before he started "talking to people," he was all for safe injection sites. But now he thinks the data isn't clear (it is). He also recently came out against the cap on move-in fees, which prevent landlords from charging more than 10% of one month's rent in nonrefundable fees, arguing that the law might force landlords to raise rents. Low and behold, landlords used that same bullshit reasoning in their opposition to the bill, which was sponsored by Sawant and City Council Member Lisa Herbold.
While our opponent is bankrolled by maxed out checks from rich Republicans and corporate executives, we’re proud to be running a powerful grassroots campaign with a median donation of just $20, compared to our opponent’s average donation of $100.
Our campaign is not for sale to rich Republicans, billionaire developers, and corporate CEOs. Ballots have been sent out and voting has begun. We’re proud that we’ve set the record for the most amount of individual donors for any election campaign in Seattle history, with over 6,000 people chipping in, and without a dime in corporate cash! But as we face off against a record-breaking assault from rich Republicans, big developers, and corporate interests, we need working people like yourself to continue to dig deep.
We can’t let rich Republicans buy this election! Pitch in $15, $50, or $500 today to re-elect Seattle’s proud socialist and representative of working people, Kshama Sawant.
Thank you for your support. Together we can do this.
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.