Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant not running for re-election

Jan 19, 2023, 10:30 AM | Updated: Jan 20, 2023, 7:32 am
kshama sawant...
(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)
(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant says she is not running for re-election.

Sawant said she is choosing not to run again and instead will help the launch of a national workers’ movement.

We have no illusions that a mass movement can be built overnight, but we urgently need to get started,” she said in an editorial in The Stranger. “We need a new party for the working class—one that holds elected officials accountable.” 

Sawant has been on the city council for a decade. She is a member of Socialist Alternative, the first and only member of the party to date to be elected to public office.

In The Stranger:

Since I was elected in 2013, more than two hundred self-identified ‘democratic socialist’ candidates have been elected nationally. But unfortunately, with rare exceptions, the overwhelming majority of them have abandoned their campaign promises and have failed to stand up to the political establishment.

Just last month, we saw the historic and shameful betrayal of railroad workers by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including caucus chair Pramila Jayapal and self-proclaimed democratic-socialist ‘Squad’ members such as AOC.

Sawant narrowly survived a December 7, 2021 recall election for her position on the council by a margin of 310 votes, or 0.76%. It was the first held in Seattle since 1975.

She was the first socialist to win a citywide election in Seattle since Anna Louise Strong was elected to the school board in 1916.

“Capitalism needs to be overthrown. We need a socialist world,” Sawant said. “And that is only possible by mobilizing many millions of working people around genuine socialist ideas and fighting relentlessly for our interests as a class.”

Sawant said the name of the movement will be Workers Strike Back and it already has a website. It lists Sawant as the main contact.

The website outlines the initial goals of the new movement.

1 — Workers Need a Real Raise

2 — Good Union Jobs for All

3 — Fight Racism, Sexism & All Oppression

4 — Quality Affordable Housing & Free Healthcare for All

5 — No More Sellouts, We Need a New Party

“Working people want to fight back, but we need to get better organized. We need a nationwide movement—an independent, rank-and-file campaign organizing in workplaces and on the streets,” Sawant said.

Sawant is the fourth of seven incumbent city council members with expiring terms who say they will not seek reelection. Sawant is the most senior member.

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Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant not running for re-election