In a stunning upset Kshama Sawant, running for the Socialist Alternative Party, defeated a 16-year incumbent to claim her seat on Seattle's city council. Sawant ran on issues which found deep resonance with voters, including a $15 minimum wage (a living wage), campaign finance reform, and a sharp critique of increasing inequality. Another candidate in Minneapolis (Ty Moore), running on the same party line as Sawant, lost narrowly, conceding five days after the election.
Socialist Kshama Sawant will be on the next Seattle City Council.
"I didn't set out to do this. I wasn't thinking about holding an elective office. I just wanted to be an activist," Sawant said.
Sawant, 41, grew up in Mumbai, India. She says she realized early on she was a socialist who hated the Indian caste system she grew up in.
"I never bought into it. I was completely and I remain completely against the caste system," she said.
Sawant came to America for a graduate degree in economics and moved to Seattle three years ago to become an economics teacher at Seattle Central Community College. She was also part of the Occupy Movement. Just three years ago she became an American citizen.
"And having me on the City Council as an immigrant woman of color with an Indian accent, I think that, I hope, will inspire other people," she said.
She believes that alone she won't change City Council, but she'll be part of a movement to bring change.
"There's a real unrest in the American population for change and things are going to change more rapidly in the coming years," Sawant added.
(AP) The Seattle City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday that gradually increases the minimum wage in the city to $15, which would make it the highest in the nation. (Photo inset by Stewart Isett)