Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant has turned back an effort to recall her from office after a 10-day vote count.
Supporters of Sawant — Seattle’s only socialist council member and the first in the city’s history to face a recall — narrowly outdid those in favor of a recall, claiming 50.4% of the vote.
On Thursday, just 306 of the 41,000 votes counted separated Sawant from the recall effort, with results to be certified on Friday.
Any challenged ballots resolved between the time votes were counted on Thursday afternoon and the 4:30 p.m. deadline — about a two-hour window — were to be added to the count before certification, according to King County Elections Chief of Staff Kendall Hodson.
That number is unlikely to change the results.
“We think this victory up against the odds we were facing is a real vindication of the movement-building approach that Kshama has taken to office,” Bryan Koulouris, a leader of the Kshama Solidarity Campaign said Thursday.
Koulouris also attributed part of Sawant’s success to her support of progressive ideas like $15 minimum wage efforts in 2014 and her ongoing fight to implement rent control.
“It appears we have defeated the combined efforts of big business, the right wing, corporate media, the courts and the political establishment who sought to remove our socialist council office by any means necessary,” Sawant said to a crowd of supporters last week.
Henry Bridger II, leader of the recall effort, acknowledged Sawant’s likely victory last Friday.
“While this election may not end with removing Sawant from office, let her narrow escape send a clear message: Seattle voters will not tolerate slash-and-burn politicians who shirk accountability and divide the city,” Bridger said in a statement.
Bridger was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
On the ballot, Sawant was charged with three counts of “misfeasance, malfeasance and violation of the oath of office.”
She was accused of using city resources to support a proposed “Tax Amazon” ballot initiative, acting out of compliance with public disclosure requirements. In May, she settled with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission for $3,516. Sawant admitted to this charge, but said she was unaware it was a violation.
She was also accused of disobeying state COVID-19 orders by unlocking City Hall to hundreds of protesters one evening during Seattle’s racial justice protests in June 2020. Sawant admits to and was recorded opening the facility to activists, but says she did not violate any COVID orders in doing so.
Finally, Sawant was accused of leading a protest march to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s house, though Durkan’s address is protected by a state confidentiality program because of her past work as a federal prosecutor. Sawant denies involvement in the organization of the event or even knowing the march was heading to Durkan’s house, despite the march being advertised in advance on social media and in a news release as a “March on the Mayor’s Mansion.”
By turning back the recall, Sawant retains her seat on the City Council through the end of her term in 2023.
The recall election resulted in just shy of a 53% turnout from District 3 voters.