Council position: 2
In office since: 2014
Current term: 2014-2015
Councilmember Kshama Sawant is not a career politician. She is an activist who brings a passion for social justice to her work as a public servant. As a member of the city council, Kshama pledges to be a voice for workers, youth, the oppressed and the voiceless. She only accepts the average wage of the average worker from the six figure Seattle City Council salary.
After working as a computer engineer, she earned her PhD in economics and started teaching at Seattle Central Community College, Seattle University, and the University of Washington Tacoma. She is also an activist, organizer, and socialist, and is a member of Socialist Alternative, in solidarity with the Committee for a Workers' International, which organizes for working class interests on every continent.
An immigrant from India, Kshama was surprised and radicalized to see similar inequality and poverty in United States. She joined Socialist Alternative after moving from North Carolina to Seattle in 2006, and started her activism. She helped organize demonstrations for marriage equality when California passed proposition 8, and was active in the movement to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She was a visible presence in the Occupy Movement and has organized against foreclosures and to prevent cuts to prevent cuts to public education, and to protest racist attacks. Kshama has been an activist in her union American Federation of Teachers Local 1789 fighting against budget cuts and tuition hikes.
In 2012, Kshama ran as a Socialist Alternative candidate for WA state legislature and surprised everyone by winning 29% of the vote. In 2013, that momentum was continued as her campaign focused on building the movement for a $15/hour minimum wage, winning and becoming the first Socialist elected to Seattle City Council in over 100 years.