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Effort to recall Seattle Councilmember Sawant draws interest outside the city

Public records show that the Kshama Solidarity Campaign has raised close to $850,000, with 54% of donations coming from outside city limits.

SEATTLE — It will be an unusual election by Seattle standards, with a single issue, in a single district of the city. 

But the 'Recall Sawant' effort clearly has people interested outside the city limits, based on fundraising totals, and has ramped up the rhetoric in recent days.  

The vote, on Dec. 7, will be the culmination of an almost year-and-a-half effort to unseat Sawant, an unabashed socialist who stands accused of violating her oath of office with three certified charges from the state Supreme Court. Ballots were mailed last week.

Sawant was formally accused of misusing city funds for a "Tax Amazon" campaign, to which she later admitted wrongdoing.

The council member also unlocked Seattle City Hall for a protest and led a march to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's home. Durkan's address was previously hidden by state statute, given her prior career as a U.S. attorney. The mayor's home was vandalized with graffiti and, in an interview with KING 5, she said her family continues to be harassed and threatened.

"This recall is racist, right wing, and based on lies, the recall claims that I don't represent everyone in the district, I don't," said a defiant Sawant during the only debate on the subject earlier this month. 

But Recall Campaign Manager Henry Bridger, in an interview Tuesday, disputes that.  

"I'm literally unemployed. I'm unemployed. There is no way, I've been unemployed all year. No, it's not billionaire backed," Bridger said. "It's never been about race. It's about holding her accountable, about breaking the law." 

In fact, Bridger presented a letter on Tuesday signed by 70 religious and BIPOC leaders calling for Sawant's ouster. 

Reverend Harriet Walden, the esteemed leader of Mothers for Police Accountability, was among the signatures.  

"She didn't say anything about the people, what happened in the CHOP. Two people died up there. She was willing to leave her sector without any protection, without any police protection at all," Walden said Tuesday. 

The letter also states:

"We have not come to this recommendation lightly. We practice and teach acceptance and forgiveness. But District 3 voters ought to be aware of Sawant’s long history of attacking our communities and hi-jacking our efforts. 

"Sawant regularly trades in rhetoric that gives rise to antisemitism, resulting in violence and hatred directed at the Jewish community. She has also stoked chaos in the Black community and sought to hijack the efforts of Black Lives Matter organizers to promote her own political agenda. These behaviors have been well documented by news coverage and amount to a record that we simply cannot condone or support.

"Kshama Sawant has consistently sought to exploit and politicize the painful circumstances of our communities for her own personal gain. These craven behaviors do nothing more than to further divide us as people and contribute to the incitement and spreading of hate." 

The Kshama Solidarity Campaign originally scheduled an interview about the campaign for Tuesday afternoon, but abruptly canceled it after hearing about the letter, saying it would be addressed at a future press conference. 

Public records show that the Solidarity campaign has raised close to $850,000, with 54% of donations coming from outside city limits. By contrast, the Recall campaign has raised $745,000, with 40% coming from Sawant's District 3. A new PAC, called "A Better Seattle," that was formed by Sawant opponents, has raised almost $80,000, with 39% coming from District 3, the most of any sector.