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Hey District 3, vote NO on the Kshama Sawant recall

This election is only open to voters who live in Seattle’s City Council District 3 (PDF map), encompassing Capitol Hill, the Central District, and some surrounding areas. If your registration is up-to-date, you should have received your ballot in the mail this week. You can check the status of your registration or update your address via the King County Elections My Voter Information website. That site also has a tab for “December 2021 Recall Election,” which will tell you if your address is included.

District 3 map.
Detailed District 3 map (PDF).

Even if you don’t like Kshama Sawant’s politics, District 3 voters should say NO to the special recall election underway now through December 7.

Recalling her would set a terrible precedent to set for our city’s elected government system. Sawant won the 2019 election, and was elected to serve a full four-year term. People who don’t like that’s she’s a socialist or whatever can support a different candidate in 2023. That’s how our city democracy works.

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There is too much real work to do in our city to spend a ton of energy on mid-term recall elections like this. A recall is a BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY kind of tool for when the public has no other means to prevent an elected official from further harming our city or as a response to a particularly egregious malfeasance. None of this applies to Sawant.

The supposed “charges” that form the legal basis for the recall are very flimsy. For example, she used City Hall printers to print materials supporting a Tax Amazon ballot initiative that never happened. This was not an appropriate use of public printers, but she owned up to the mistake and paid a fine. Don’t tell me you’re going to recall our most senior  Councilmember over the use of a printer. Other charges say she participated in a summer 2020 protest march that went by the Mayor’s house and she opened the City Hall doors to another protest group. I would say that supporting protests against police brutality was a good thing for a Councilmember to do, and opening the doors of City Hall to the marching public was an effective and way to make her point that our city government belongs to the people. Even if you don’t agree with her tactics, these are not reasons to recall a Councilmember.

Seattle Bike Blog has endorsed Sawant many times. She is the senior member of the Council, and she has been a consistently positive vote for biking and safe streets efforts. But again, these aren’t even the most compelling reasons to vote NO. This election is not asking whether you like her politics, it’s asking whether we need to disrupt our government and the four-year term cycle in order to cast out someone who was legitimately elected in 2019.

Additionally, it is concerning and undemocratic for the recall campaign purposefully delay submitting their signatures until after the deadline to put the issue on the higher-turnout general election ballot in November. They are hoping that fewer people vote because then they have a better chance of sidestepping the younger voters who have long been strong Sawant supporters. If they were really so concerned about harm from Sawant’s ongoing presence on Council they would have tried to get the recall onto the ballot as soon as possible. Instead, they delayed in an expensive effort to get a less democratic process. No voter should support these tactics.

Vote NO.

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25 responses to “Hey District 3, vote NO on the Kshama Sawant recall”

  1. There should be a rule that if you miss the deadline for the general election you have to wait six months before your recall hits the ballot. At the very minimum there should be no recalls for the three months after a general election or between the primary and general. Holding a recall a month after the general election is ridiculous.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I suppose I could imagine a scenario where the need to recall was so urgent that waiting for the next significant election would take too long. But then again, the Council also has power to remove someone from office if such an urgent and egregious problem occurred. Delaying the vote on purpose like the recall campaign did is not defensible.

  2. Jerry

    A few comments:

    1) Washington is not California. Recalls can only happen if a sufficiently bad act has happened that can be plausibly true. So I don’t see how your “bad precedent” argument can hold water unless future progressive councilmembers are as careless as Sawant and if so, god help us.

    2) Something no progressive opinion writer can never ever wrestle with and will never wrestle with is the frankly corrupt relationship Sawant has with her private political party Socialist Alternative. It’s a matter of undisputed fact that Socialist Alternative has hiring and firing decisionmaking privileges, decisionmaking for her votes, and even writes her speeches for her. This is manifestly corrupt, and while not part of the recall, is something that no one can defend so everyone including the writer just ignores it.

    3) Bike lanes in D3 have not been markibly any better in the decade + Sawant has been in office. The fact of the matter is that she doesn’t care about D3 bike lanes really because Socialist Alternative members who live in Brooklyn don’t care D3 bike lanes and that’s who her constituents are.

    1. David Miles

      Jerry, who didn’t leave a full name, your point number 2, though overstated, addresses an issue many voters knew about when they voted for Sawant in 2019. That would make it a reason to vote against the recall, not for it. Your point number 1 was addressed in the original post, and point number 3 denigrates the many people in district 3 who strongly support Sawant (I don’t, though I voted for her and will vote against the recall.)

    2. keisi

      Point 2 is as advertised. I don’t know how that’s corrupt – it’s a decision making process far more democratic and accountable than the usual elect someone and hope they do what they said they would, but only the parts you like. Of course the party itself being somewhat small undermines that a bit.

  3. asdf2

    If, say, Sawant was recalled, who would replace her? As we just saw in California, the answer to that question should matter a great deal to voters. Hopefully, the replacement would not be somebody like Larry Elder.

    1. Ed

      If Sawant were to be recalled a replacement would be appointed by the remaining council members to finish out the term. Expect the remaining council members to appoint someone politically aligned with their views. There is no way they would appoint someone with conservative views.

    2. RossB

      Nikkita Oliver. Or better yet, someone so far to the left of Oliver they make Nikkita look like Richard Nixon. I am no fan of either person, but if I was on the council, that’s how I would vote.

      1. eddiew

        I expect Oliver lives in district two.

  4. Ed

    Sawant broke the law and should be recalled. actually we should not have come this far, Sawant should have resigned. She appealed and it went all the way to the Supreme Court, the State Supreme Court said she broke the law for 3 separate issues. The remaining city council members decided the city should pay for her legal defense, costing the city tens of thousands. Perhaps this money could have been better used for say bike infrastructure?
    We should not allow elected officials to think it is OK to break the law.

  5. Gary Yngve

    The recall effort has been in and out of the courts for a year. If Sawant doesn’t like the timing, she is partly to blame for the delays due to her appeals.
    I agree with Ed. Sawant broke the law and has been disruptive and hostile on Council. As she states herself, she is not representing the people of her district. Also ongoing defamation lawsuit against Sawant.

  6. ronp

    She somehow annoys me but at the same time if she is doing right by transit and biking and urban design I am OK with her. My god my councilmember is a moron on these issues (initials are AP).

  7. Chris Musselman

    She presents a constant Socialist ‘disruption’ and should be recalled for the reasons identified; any further disruption to the city council resulting from the recall will be minimal. She does not generally support ‘safe streets’ by any stretch of the imagination, and her support for ‘biking’ as an almost sole reason to retain her is laughable. Seattle has a recall process, it has been used multiple times in Seattle history and is fully appropriate in this case.

    1. Sawant’s office is the only of the council members I’ve written to about safe streets issues who have ever responded to me on that topic, and have done so at least twice, two more times than MOsqueda or Gonzalez (both of whom I voted for then and more recently). That’s not the only reason I support her and voted No on the recall, but I hope you can see why I beg to differ on the idea that she doesn’t support safe streets.

  8. Nathan Dickey

    Most of the “Recall Sawant” arguments assume that she misrepresented herself during either of her elections, which as far as I’m aware, isn’t true. She’s always campaigned as a socialist working to help bring socialism to the entire city, not just D3. In that time, she broke some minor laws, but I’m sure there wouldn’t be a recall if Lewis got caught speeding on Westlake or Elliott. Also, the city elected Bruce Harrell after he blatantly ignored COVID health laws with a fundraising dinner. Frankly, the double-standard is pretty ridiculous. While Sawant is a leftist with a larger cause than D3, she’s been elected twice by the same group and the recall is betting that her voters will be too busy to send in their recall ballots before the deadline while the status-quo moderates have nothing better to do.

    1. Jason Arends

      The double standard of Durkan not being able to be recalled for gassing her citizens, while Sawant can for protesting the gassing of citizens continues to make me furious. I’d love to see a good challenger to Sawant, but there’s no way I’d vote to recall her for using the wrong printer.

      1. Gary Yngve

        Durkan did not deploy CS gas. The police deployed CS gas. After they warned violent rioters multiple times that they need to disperse or else. The police did what they had to do to protect the safety of the residents in apartments from arson to the precinct. It is not a double standard. Sawant committed those ethics violations directly.
        Now I would be in favor of recalling Durkan for the missing texts from her phone, though it is a moot point, as her term is almost over.

      2. Colleen Mills

        Agree. Why do citizens not look at the massive destruction done by the rioters? It is fine to march, but it is not ok to destroy property. How many were injured on both sides. And how many people came to Seattle just to cause destruction.

  9. RossB

    I agree with this editorial. There is no way the charges (if true) raise to the level of a recall.

    1. Yesler

      They aren’t charges, they are all factual incidents that aren’t in dispute. The only question is if the lack of ethics she showed in these incidents is large enough that she should be removed in office. Using public resources for personal use on that scale would get you and I fired from a public job. So that incident right there kind of does seem recall worthy.

      But the protest at the mayor’s house is a lot more troubling. You have the 1st Amendment right to protest in the public square. You don’t have the right to protest in someone’s front yard. That’s called harassment. We can’t have meaningful discourse on public issues by protesting in people’s front yard. And despite what you might have read on Seattle Bike Blog, the protest wasn’t “by” the mayor’s house. It deliberately targeted the mayor, and was advertised on Facebook as such. I don’t agree that harassment is a legitimate political tactic. And I bet if you were the target you wouldn’t think so either.

      But it is more troubling than that. By law, the addresses of US Attorneys are kept confidential for safety reasons. This is not a hypothetical concern. Federal prosecutor Thomas Wales was shot dead in his Queen Anne home and the murder remains unsolved–that’s why the law was passed.

      Sawant claims she wasn’t the one who leaked the mayor’s address. And that might be true. However by leading the march, she implicitly endorsed exposing the mayor’s address thereby increasing the risk to the mayor’s personal safety. I don’t see how anyone could think that is acceptable behavior.

  10. Colleen Mills

    I support the Recall. She and several of the Council are responsible for the state of our downtown core. Sawant does not have the capacity to listen to another opinion. I have watched her on zoom Council meetings and if she does not get what she wants she has a tantrum. And yes going to Mayor Durkan’s home was the last straw in my opinion. She is merely a puppet for the Socialist Alternative Group.

  11. bob

    I expect this comment to be deleted….

    The Seattle bike blog supports Sawant because you are a militant organization ( see the army stripes in your logo)
    cut from the same Agenda 21 mold as Sawant…….Does it matter that Sawant is a nut case?….Nope……As long as she anti-car, pro bike…….And supports agenda 21….

    1. Bob, do you know what a sharrow is?

    2. junior

      bob don’t you have some drops to bake

    3. Colleen Mills

      Our son rides his bike to work in downtown Seattle from the suburbs and rarely uses his car. We have talked about the District 3 Recall and we both believe Sawant needs to go. She does not represent her constituents and uses her Council seat to further her goals in the Socialist Alternative movement. Of course she will be on top. So disappointing that Seattle bike is backing her. Hope it’s members can use their own brains before voting. And yes our liberal court system agreed on the charges.

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