Kshama Sawant – First Marxist to win a city wide election in USA since 1916.

Image Courtesy : Flickr: paparatti
Image Courtesy : Flickr: paparatti

Kshama Sawant is the  the first Marxist to win a city wide election since communist Anna Louise Strong was elected to the School Board in 1916 . Sawant won the 2013 election for Position 2 on the Seattle City Council.A former software engineer from India, Sawant became a socialist activist and part-time economics professor in Seattle after immigrating to the United States. She holds part-time teaching positions at Seattle Central Community College and Seattle University and was a visiting assistant professor at Washington and Lee University.

Personal life and education

Sawant was born to Vasundhara and H. T. Ramanujam in Pune, India.Sawant’s unhappyness with the Indian caste system shaped her political views before her adoption of socialism. Sawant grew up in Mumbai where she later studied computer science and graduated with a B.S from the University of Mumbai in 1994. Sawant married her husband Vivek, an engineer at Microsoft and moved to the United States. Sawant decided to abandon the computer field and pursued study in economics at North Carolina State University where she earned a PhD. Her dissertation was titled Elderly Labor Supply in a Rural, Less Developed Economy. Sawant moved to Seattle in 2006 and became a citizen in 2010.

Political advocacy

Sawant is a Marxist, a supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and a member of the Trotskyist political party Socialist Alternative, an affiliate of the Committee for a Workers’ International. She is a supporter of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, implementing rent control, protecting public sector unions from layoffs, instituting higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for public union jobs and services, using government to organize mass protests, a moratorium on deportations of illegal immigrants from Seattle and granting unconditional citizenship for all persons currently in the United States without citizenship. Sawant opposes the Measures of Academic Progress test in public schools and has called for their boycott.Sawant has called for large Seattle companies to be unionized and has spoken in favor of the collectivization of the Seattle-based company Amazon.com

Seattle City Council

Sawant won the 2013 election for Position 2 on the Seattle City Council. She won 35% of the vote in the August primary election, and advanced into the general election against incumbent Richard Conlin. Conlin conceded to Sawant in a speech on November 15, 2013 after late returns show him down by approximately 1% of the vote.

The core issues of Sawant’s campaign were a minimum wage increase to US$15/hour, rent control, and increased taxes on the wealthy. She promised to donate the portion of her salary as a City Council person which exceeded the average salary in Seattle.

Sawant received no endorsements from sitting Council members but councillor Mike O’Brien expressed support of the idea of third party candidates while explicitly declining to extend an endorsement of Sawant.The Stranger alt-weekly endorsed both her State House and her City Council candidacy.All of Seattle’s major Democratic Party organizations endorsed Sawant’s opponent Conlin, but several individuals within the city’s dominant Democratic establishment endorsed her candidacy. Celebrity endorsements included Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian.

Article Courtesy :  Wikipedia

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