Indian-origin Kshama Sawant elected to Seattle City Council

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 00:54

Washington: Indian-American Kshama Sawant has been elected to the prestigious Seattle City Council, making her the first socialist to be voted to an elected office, 97 years after the city sent their first outspoken radical into office.

Pune-born Sawant, 40, was declared elected after her nearest rival 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin conceded defeat as her lead grew to 1,640 votes -- less than one per cent of the total votes.

The victory of the first socialist was celebrated with an impressive gathering in Seattle.

Her call to take Boeing -the biggest private employer of the region, which is threatening to move jobs out of the state - into public ownership was welcomed with a standing ovation.

"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," Sawant said.

"Our campaign is not an isolated event, it`s a bellwether for what`s going to happen in the future," she added.

Sawant is an economics teacher at Seattle Central Community College and a member of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789.

She was an activist in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In 2012 Sawant won a 29 per cent with over 20,000 votes as a Socialist Alternative candidate against Democratic WA State House Speaker Frank Chopp the strongest vote for an independent left-wing candidate in the US in 2012, and the highest vote for a socialist in decades.

Sawant said as a city councilor, she will use her position to help build, unite, and give political voice to the struggles of low-paid workers, youth, people of colour, and all those who are shut out by the political machine that runs this city on behalf of the wealthy elite.

During the campaign she did not accept any corporate funding.

Born to Vasundhara and HT Ramanujam in Pune in 1973, Sawant grew up in Mumbai where she later studied computer science and graduated with a BS from the University of Mumbai in 1994.

Sawant married her husband Vivek, an engineer at Microsoft, and moved to the United States. After moving to the United States Sawant decided to abandon the computer engineering field.

She began to pursue study in economics due to what she described as her own "questions of economic inequality." She entered the economics programme at North Carolina State University where she earned a PhD. She became a United States citizen in 2010.

PTI

First Published: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 00:54

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