NRI Pulse Staff Report
Atlanta, GA, November 12, 2019: Socialist Indian-American council member Kshama Sawant has declared victory against her Amazon-backed challenger, Egan Orion in a keenly watched race to Seattle City Council.
Sawant, 47, a member of the Socialist Alternative movement ran a “not-for-sale” campaign that pitted her against Jeff Bezos-led Amazon and other big corporations. The race caught national attention after big corporations poured money into the contest to fight Sawant and other socialist candidates.
The elections were seen as a referendum on who runs Seattle- Amazon and big business or working people, Sawant had declared in her campaign.
Amazon has supposedly spent $1.5 million through the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s no-limit political action committee (PAC) in the elections. The PAC spent nearly $450,000 against Sawant alone, says Seattle Times.
“It looks like our movement has won, and defended our socialist City Council seat for working people against the richest man in the world,” Sawant said at a news conference, taking a dig at Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Sawant is Seattle’s first Socialist politician elected in nearly a century. She was instrumental in making Seattle the first major American city to adopt a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
“Amazon’s unprecedented and undemocratic $1.5 million dollar attempt to buy Seattle’s elections must be defeated, if we are to address our city’s affordable housing and homelessness crisis, and make big business pay their fair share of taxes,” Sawant had declared during her campaign.
“Seattle needs rent control, citywide and without corporate loopholes, to stop skyrocketing rents. We need to build tens of thousands of units of social housing, paid for by taxing Amazon and big business, to provide a public alternative to the broken private development system.”
“In the midst of this crisis, luxury apartments are sitting vacant all over downtown and South Lake Union — we need a vacancy tax on big developers and property-owning corporations.”
Sawant was not the only candidate who beat Amazon. At least five Seattle council candidates backed by the chamber’s political action committee lost, reports The Nation.
Born to Vasundhara and H.T. Ramanujam in Pune in 1973 in a middle-class Brahmin family, Sawant grew up in Mumbai where she later studied computer science and graduated with a BSc from the University of Mumbai in 1994.
After moving to the US, Sawant decided to abandon the computer engineering field, according to her biography.
Her PhD dissertation at North Carolina State University was titled “Elderly Labor Supply in a Rural, Less Developed Economy”. Sawant moved to Seattle in 2006 and became a US citizen in 2010.