SAWANT RECALL: Turnout update, the three charges, and CHS coverage of the City Hall and mayor’s home protests

Sawant speaking during a June 2020 “Defund SPD” protest and march to Mayor Durkan’s house in a demonstration organized by the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America. “The decision by the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America and speakers including Socialist Alternative leader Kshama Sawant to target the mayor’s home and neighborhood struck a personal blow and also flouted Durkan’s efforts to conceal the location of her residence due to concerns about security after her years as a federal prosecutor,” CHS reported at the time.

Turnout has now climbed above 35% in the District 3 recall vote of City Councilmember Kshama Sawant with more than 27,000 ballots already returned. If we reach 50% turnout, that means there are still 11,000 voters yet to cast their ballots. 55%? Around 15,000. A pretty much unheard of 60%? Nearly 20,000.

If you’re part of that group and still weighing the evidence, considering the facts, and calculating the politics, here’s a post of CHS coverage of the latest in the Recall Sawant and Kshama Solidarity campaigns and some of the coverage unique to the CHS archives that documents the very days and actions brought into question by the recall proponents.

  • 12/7/21: Ballots in the recall were mailed beginning November 17th. Your vote must be postmarked or dropped in a county drop box by 8 PM on Tuesday, December 7th — at this point, we recommend you choose any of the available King County dropboxes across the city to make your vote is not left out. Learn more and check on your ballot at Only voters in District 3 — encompassing Capitol Hill, First Hill, the Central District, Montlake, Madison Valley, and Madison Park — can participate.


  • The Recall Sawant debateEverything you need to know about the recall and its implications plus video of the debate between the Sawant and recall organizer Henry Bridger.

    In early June 2020, Sawant organized a community meeting in Cal Anderson during ongoing Black Lives Matter Protests that some 2,000 people attended before a march to Seattle City Hall

    Protesters entered the building closed due to COVID-19 restrictions chanting “Whose City Hall? Our City Hall” before listening to a number of speakers at the “people’s mic,” as Sawant called it, on a range of issues, from the importance of Black LGBTQIA+ women in recent protests to taxing the council member’s familiar foe, Amazon.

    “It is about building the kind of political representation that brings the voice of the people into the halls of power and grabs power for ordinary people,” Sawant said at one point during the protest’s brief stop inside City Hall


  • THE CHARGES: Organizers have outlined multiple acts they say warrant recall including 1) using city resources to promote a Tax Amazon initiative, 2) allowing demonstrators inside City Hall during a protest in June 2020, and 3) marching to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home address kept secret due to her past role as a federal prosecutor. A fourth charge of allowing Socialist Alternative to influence her office’s employment decisions was rejected by the state Supreme Court.
    1. TAX AMAZONRecall backers call for hearing as Sawant admits Tax Amazon ethics violation, Saturday, May 8, 2021 Councilmember Kshama Sawant has admitted violating city elections and ethics code and will pay a penalty of $3,515.74 — double the amount of city funds her office spent promoting the Tax Amazon ballot initiative.
    2. CITY HALL PROTESTSawant and protesters — briefly — occupy Seattle City Hall as Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone grows, Wednesday, June 10, 2020 — Several hundred demonstrators, led by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, occupied City Hall downtown Tuesday night for just over an hour, calling for the resignation of Mayor Jenny Durkan and the defunding of the Seattle Police Department after a march from the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

      Sawant joined in and was a featured speaker as hundreds of Seattle Black Lives Matters activists and supporters marched through Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Northeast Seattle neighborhood in late June 2020

    3. DURKAN PROTESTProtest march, Sawant take #defundSPD budget fight to Durkan’s doorstep, Monday, June 29, 2020Hundreds of Seattle Black Lives Matters activists and supporters marched through Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Northeast Seattle neighborhood Sunday night to push for a major cut to the Seattle Police Department’s budget and to take their demands to the mayor’s doorstep after weeks of protest in Seattle following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota. The decision by the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America and organizers speakers including Socialist Alternative leader Kshama Sawant to target the mayor’s home and neighborhood struck a personal blow and also flouted Durkan’s efforts to conceal the location of her residence due to concerns about security after her years as a federal prosecutor. UPDATE: Sawant was invited to speak but was not a listed organizer of the event.(CHS editor’s note: We’ve included the strikeout of the word “organizers” from the original post reflecting changes CHS made to the article the day it was posted, June 29, 2020, after objections to our description of the councilmember as an organizer of the event. Within hours after the event, representatives from the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America asked CHS to clarify that they had organized the march. The DSA is not affiliated with Socialist Alternative)
  • CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONSRecall $awant: a blitz of TV ads, mailers, posters, and ‘get out the vote’ workers: The PAC set up to help recall Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant has been released from campaign contribution limits and is using the cash on strategies including a $10,000 TV ad getting heavy play during NFL and sports broadcasts in the city thanks to a $100,000 Comcast advertising buy. According to the most recent filings with the city, the PAC has already raised $160,000, closing the gap between the Recall Sawant campaign and the Kshama Solidarity campaign formed to fight the recall. Together, some $1.9 million has been raised by the organizations from around 16,000 contributors. Unlike the December 7th recall vote which is limited to only Sawant’s D3 constituents, anybody can donate.
  • TURNOUTStrong early turnout in Sawant recall with one week of voting to go: Supporters of Kshama Sawant have said driving strong voter turnout in the recall election falling between two major holiday periods will be the key to keeping the Socialist Alternative council member in office. With one week of voting left in the December 7th District 3 recall, more than 21,000 people have already voted. But the strong early turnout could be a sign of major challenges ahead for the political veteran. According to King County Elections, turnout in the election is already approaching 28% driven by strong by-mail voting in wealthy areas like Broadmoor and along the shores of Lake Washington. So far, the county has received 21,366 ballots. The district has 77,200 registered voters. The current pace is far in front of returned ballots a week ahead of November’s General Election when the city as a whole hit 55% turnout.
  • PREDICTIONSWill the E Republican line hold in the Kshama Sawant recall vote? Here are the maps for Capitol Hill and the Central District from the November election: Want to know how the December 7th District 3 recall election will play out? Whether Kshama Sawant will keep her seat on the Seattle City Council will probably break down along the E Republican line. King County Elections has released the final precinct by precinct voting maps for the November General Election and the results show a mostly familiar pattern with the core of District 3 across central Capitol Hill and the Central District away from the shores of Lake Washington tending toward the more progressive candidates in the races and a hard northern line forming near the disputed political territories of Capitol Hill’s E Republican street.
  • MORE
    • How much does a recall election cost? The cost for the vote will be footed by the City of Seattle — also known as you and me. King County Elections says an election of this scale typically costs around $300,000 — around $4 per registered voter.
    • District 3 recall: ‘Religious and community leaders’ endorse ‘yes,’ scenes from the Kshama Solidarity block party, and how much does a recall election cost, anyhow?
    • District 3 recall: A Better Seattle joins ‘yes’ fight, Kshama Solidarity holds a ‘F%#k The Recall’ Block Party, and how they would replace Sawant
    • Endorsements: As soon as the smoke had cleared from the General Election, the Seattle Times editorial board weighed in with its endorsement in the recall vote — vote yes, the Times says:

      Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant has long been an outspoken voice for socialist ideals with an utter disregard for the city’s business community. She has also inserted rudeness, bullying and shoddy ethics into City Hall, which has done profound disservice to her District 3 constituency and the city. Voters should hold Sawant accountable for transgressions against civil governance and remove her from office.

      The city’s only progressive counterbalance, The Stranger weighed in and predictably calls for a no vote from D3 residents:

      Though the people running the recall campaign claim the “progressive” mantle, the effort to boot Sawant emerged alongside a nationwide recall craze. Most of those recalls sought to punish politicians for supporting COVID-19 restrictions, but others sought to punish politicians who supported the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020.

      Both outlets are headquartered outside of District 3.

    • Replacing Sawant: One of the most mis-reported elements of the recall involves the process that will play out if the “yes” side wins. It’s OK. Even our recent inquiry to the City Council’s media representative ended up with staff digging into the City Charter for answers. Everybody has the basics down; Should Sawant be recalled, the City Council will appoint a replacement. But the specifics get muddled in several reports. There are a few key elements to be aware of. First, the recall is immediate. Once the vote is certified, Sawant would be removed from office. The City Council will then swing into action to name a replacement. Here’s what the Charter says about that:

      the City Council shall, within twenty days thereafter, proceed to select by ballot a person to fill such vacancy, who shall possess the qualifications required for election to such office; such selection to be effective only upon the affirmative vote of a majority of all members of the City Council. If any elective office shall not be filled within twenty days after it becomes vacant, the City Council shall meet and ballot at least once each day, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays, until such vacancy has been filled.

      You can check out the process around the replacement of Rob Johnson in 2019 for more about that. The part that is frequently botched by reporters comes next. The replacement would not finish Sawant’s term through 2023. Instead, the appointment lasts only through the next General Election. The result will be a lot of ballots for D3 residents — the November vote we just went through, the D3 recall on December 7th, a new D3 vote in November 2022, and another D3 vote in 2023 for the full four-year term. So, yes, a “yes” vote next month could set the course for the D3 seat through 2027.


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SAWANT RECALL: Turnout update, the three charges, and CHS coverage of the City Hall and mayor’s home protests