Longshot winner of Seattle City Council seat warns of struggle ahead

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Kshama Sawant was considered the longshot, but she beat incumbent Richard Conlin and won a seat on Seattle's City Council. The Socialist Alternative candidate pushed a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage for all workers in Seattle. She predicted big business will attack her personally to make sure that doesn't happen.

Sawant told supporters at a victory rally, "They are going to make a ferocious effort, make no mistake, to marginalize me and sow divisions and confusion among us."

She urged her backers to keep up the pressure. A coalition is being formed to rally ten thousand people early next year to fight for the wage boost. Funding mass transit is next on Sawant's agenda.

If the state can't offer the county a way to prevent Metro Transit cuts, an effort will be made to get Seattle's rich to foot the tab.

Sawant's political campaign director, Philip Locker said, "That money needs to come from the big businesses and the super-rich, working people and middle class people are way overtaxed."

Sawant doesn't pull punches when it comes to large corporations. She was critical of Boeing's threat to move jobs out of state, if it didn't get tax breaks and wage concessions.

Sawant said, "If they insisted on doing this, that will be nothing short of economic terrorism."

The councilmember elect said the only response to reject what she called "blackmail" is to tell Boeing's CEO if you want to go, you can go.

Sawant added, "The machines are here, the workers are here. Let us take this entire productive activity into democratic public ownership and retool the machines to produce mass transit."

That comment prompted cheers and a standing ovation at Sawant's victory rally. She called her election a political "earthquake," but also said it was just a first step.

Sawant said her supporters will have to keep up the pressure if 15 dollars an hour will see the light of day in 2014.