Posted 1 month ago on Jan. 30, 2014, 9:49 a.m. EST by shooz
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"Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant ended her inauguration speech on January 6 with an exhortation to the voters who had just elected her as the country’s only socialist politician: “To all those prepared to resist the agenda of big business—in Seattle and nationwide—I appeal to you: get organized.” If her election is going to catalyze bold reforms in Seattle, she has said repeatedly, it will require a strong movement behind her. And yesterday, she put her money where her mouth is by announcing that she would accept only $40,000 of her $117,000 salary and donate the rest to a fund to build social justice movements.
Running as a member of the Trotskyist party Socialist Alternative, Sawant was unusual among leftist candidates around the country for her audacity. She did not run as a “protest candidate,” simply raising issues about the bankruptcy of our political system, but rather as someone who believed she could win. Incredibly, in November 2013, she did.
Sawant faces a tough slog in implementing her progressive agenda, which includes a $15 minimum wage, rent control and an income tax on the wealthy to fund better public transit, among other goals. Business interests will fight any kind of minimum wage boost, as they did in the nearby town of SeaTac, where a corporate-backed lawsuit convinced a judge to partially overturn a $15 minimum wage passed by voters.
But Sawant seems confident that, with the help of mobilized supporters, her election can be a step toward better days for Seattle’s working class—and the country’s. Sawant spoke with In These Times by phone from her new office in Seattle’s City Hall. "