Attempt to recall Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant fails

Dec 16, 2021, 11:44 PM | Updated: Dec 18, 2021, 7:53 am
Kshama Sawant recall, Recall Sawant...
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant has defeated the recall effort against her Thursday, after King County received its final ballot drop.

King County Elections released the final ballot count Dec. 16. Sawant leads the recall campaign by a mere 306 votes, a 50.4% margin. Election results were certified Dec. 17.

Recall Sawant Campaign Manager Henry Bridger II issued a statement Friday afternoon. In part:

“The Recall Sawant campaign set out 18 months ago to restore accountability in the District 3 City Council seat – and we succeeded in that. Our movement showed that Seattle citizens will hold elected officials accountable to the voters for irresponsible and illegal acts.

“Today, King County Elections will formally certify last week’s election results. We want to thank District 3 for turning out in record numbers for a special election. This election will be remembered as a turning point for the city and our citizens who demand accountability and want a city that moves away from divisions of the past to a more positive future.

In early results on election night, the recall effort was leading, but the gap continued to close until the vote count last Thursday when it flipped in Sawant’s favor.

Sawant recall could see District 3 voters buried in ballots over next two years

Just over 41,017 ballots have been counted of the 77,579 registered voters as of Thursday afternoon, according to King County Elections.

Despite the initial setback, Sawant addressed a crowd of supporters on election night.

“The initial election results have been reported,” Sawant told the crowd on Dec. 7, as documented by Socialist Alternative. “At present, as you all know, the vote against the right wing is 46.9%. And the vote for the recall is 53.1%. In every one of our elections, there has been a dramatic swing after election night in our direction.”

The recall petition levied three separate allegations against Sawant. Those charges were:

  • That Sawant violated COVID-19 protocols by admitting protesters into City Hall during a June demonstration
  • That Sawant used her position as a city councilmember to lead a protest to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home, the location of which is confidential due to Durkan’s time as a U.S. Attorney
  • That Sawant misused council resources to promote her Tax Amazon ballot initiative

In the event Sawant was recalled, she would have been removed from office as soon as the election was certified. Seattle’s city charter mandates that the remaining city councilmembers subsequently appoint an interim District 3 representative within 20 days.

The interim councilmember replacing Sawant would have served in her seat until the next regularly scheduled general election in November 2022. The winner of that election would have served out the remainder of Sawant’s term, which expires in 2023. District 3 voters would then have had to go to the ballot box again in 2023 to vote for a councilmember who would serve a full four-year term through 2027.

Strong turnout for Sawant recall vote ahead of Tuesday deadline for District 3 ballots

Sawant last won reelection to city council in 2019 by a 52% to 48% margin over challenger Egan Orion.

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Attempt to recall Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant fails