New Seattle mayor has online clash with Socialist City Councilwoman

by: Essex Porter Updated:

Ed Murray, center, talks with reporters Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 after attending a fundraising luncheon for ROOTS, a shelter for homeless youth in Seattle. Following Tuesday's election Murray led incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn by a 56-44 margin. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
SEATTLE —

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's latest move on the minimum wage has led to a testy online clash between him and new Socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant.

On Friday, Mayor Murray issued his first executive order, directing staff to find the best way to bring all city employees up to a $15 an hour minimum wage.

Asked for her reaction, Sawant told the Seattle Times that the mayor’s action "shows the mayor's office is feeling the pressure from below to act on the rhetoric from the campaign."

Murray then took to Facebook and posted that "I was disappointed to read your quote in today's Seattle Times article that implied that I issued an executive order committing our City Departments to a $15 minimum wage for City personnel and providing a model to other cities how to proceed on this important policy commitment … only reluctantly, under "pressure from below."

Speaking with KIRO-7 before his inaugural address, Murray explained, "I think it's important for us as elected officials and as progressives to work together and not question each others’ motives," Murray said. "I wanted her to understand my background and my moral commitment to the issue."

KIRO-7's Linzi Sheldon asked council member Sawant her response to the mayor’s Facebook post.

"I do not intend to spend too much time on some sort of personal spat, Sawant said.

“My job is to represent the needs of working people, and as I've pledged, to fight for $15 an hour. That is a serious job to do. This is not about name-calling or anything like that."

Murray has appointed Sawant to his advisory committee on raising the minimum wage, and believes true collaboration will include clashes.

"I think it's a very honest relationship," Murray said. "I spent 18 years in the Legislature and debating fellow members of the Legislature at the same time able to work together and accomplish things, I think you have to be honest."

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