Why Seattle Democrats are Backing Kshama Sawant

43rd District Democratic Party Board Members, pictured with Kshama, after attending the Democrats for Sawant House Party on June 12th. From left to right: Rod Palmquist, Joey Wieser, Brad Bell, Shua Sanchez, Amy Madden

43rd District Democrats just delivered another big victory for our campaign, deciding against endorsing any of our Democratic Party opponents in the District 3 race. Like the decision taken by the 37th District Democrats in May, in which #TeamKshama won a “no consensus” vote, the failure of Kshama’s opponents to win the 60% threshold needed to get the endorsement reflects the enthusiastic support for socialist City Councilmember Sawant among grassroots Democrats.

Since she was elected to City Council in 2013, every important victory Kshama has helped lead in winning was the result of building broad coalitions including Democrats, socialists, union and community activists, and others. From the $15/hr minimum wage, to renters' rights legislation and Indigenous People’s Day, rank-and-file Democratic activists played an important role.  At the same time, Kshama has never made a secret of her call for building a working class political alternative to both corporate-controlled parties, or her membership in Socialist Alternative. In this context, the decision of the Democrats not to endorse longtime 43rd member and former 43rd Board Member, Zachary DeWolf, in his home turf is especially significant. 

Below we are publishing a letter from three leading grassroots Democrats on why they are backing Kshama.

Why Democrats Support Kshama Sawant

Robert Cruickshank, leader in the 36th LD Democrats
Amy Madden, leader in the 43rd LD Democrats
Claude Burfect, 37th Democrats, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

This year's City Council elections come at a critical moment in the history of Seattle. Wealthy interests and Republicans are striking back, determined to derail recent progress and block Seattle from any new, bold action on behalf of working people. 

We all have a choice to make this year. When we mark our ballots, we're declaring which side we are on. As Democratic Party leaders and activists, we're on the side of working people. And that's why we're on the side of Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

If you read our state Democratic Party platform, one of the most progressive in the nation, you will find strong language challenging corporate power. "We oppose the undue influence of corporations on our society, government and political process," it reads. You'll find a bold call for climate action: "The struggle to protect our planet’s climate health must be seen as mutually dependent and interwoven with the struggles for racial and economic justice." You'll also find calls for tax fairness, shared prosperity, affordable housing, and health care as a human right.

Councilmember Sawant is the candidate in District 3 who best embodies those core values of Democrats in Seattle and in Washington State. We will never forget the key role she played in winning a $15 minimum wage for Seattle, inspiring other cities and states to adopt it as well. (We know the big corporations and wealthy donors haven't forgotten it either.)

Sawant has won a series of victories for tenant rights, capping move-in fees and blocking rent increases at substandard rental homes. She stood with residents of public housing, including immigrants and refugees, to stop a massive rent increase at Seattle Housing Authority properties. 

She is fighting  for a Green New Deal, voting to build more affordable housing across Seattle and take on the old zoning policies rooted in discrimination in order to promote housing justice — and she matches it with strong work against gentrification and displacement. She has worked closely with Democratic Party elected officials and activists to achieve these victories, and we know she is always willing to show up in the community and stand with working people fighting for justice.

In the next few weeks and months, however, you'll hear from well-funded corporate-backed PACs trying to tell you other, misleading stories about Sawant. As progressive Democrats, we know what it's like when regressive forces mobilize to try and stop progress. And we know how to fight back.

One of the main corporate PACs, Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), is funded by megacorporations who have a long and ugly record of opposing working people. Amazon, of course, has contributed $200,000. The Washington Association of Realtors, which spends lots of time in Olympia trying to preserve our regressive, upside-down tax code, donated $25,000. Comcast gave $15,000 to protect their poor quality internet and their even worse customer service. And Puget Sound Energy took time out from trying to undermine climate action and donated $15,000.

Another PAC, "People for Seattle," organized by former Councilmember and Mayor Tim Burgess, has taken money from wealthy Republican donors. People for Seattle donor Bruce McCaw of Bellevue, for example, gave the Washington State Republicans at least $35,000 in 2018 while also donating heavily to try and protect Republican control of Congress. Tom Alberg joined McCaw in donating to Dino Rossi and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Al Clise also donated several thousand dollars to McMorris Rodgers.

Much of this money will be spent to defeat Sawant. As Seattle Democrats, we would be failing to do our jobs if we let big corporations and their Republican allies get away with this blatant attempt to influence and decide the outcome of our elections.

We don't yet know which of Sawant's challengers will benefit most from all this big money. Still, these candidates are already failing to make a convincing case for themselves. Sawant's challengers are not strong or consistent on important issues. At forums and in published reports, we have seen these challengers flip-flop or hedge on crucial issues such as rent control, taxing big corporations, and other key choices facing our city.

The battle over the head tax reminded us that we need champions on the City Council who will boldly stand up to corporate power, take on big money, and fight in the public interest and for working people. We have no doubt that Kshama Sawant will continue to be that leader. She's been doing it for the last six years on the City Council.

We are Democrats because of our shared commitment to economic justice, racial equity, and building better communities for everyone. We look at candidates based on their values, not based on the jersey they wear. In District 3, the Democratic choice is Kshama Sawant. We’re proud to endorse her, and we know she’ll fight for us and for all working people.

 


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