News East West
NEW YORK: Pune-born Indian American socialist Kshama Sawant created history on Friday by being elected as the first Socialist member of the city council of Seattle – the city of American corporate giants such as Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon.
Her opponent Richard Conlin, backed by the city establishment, conceded defeat. “We do not at this point see a realistic path to success. Certainly I’m surprised and disappointed … I felt that we ran a strong campaign and she obviously ran a stronger one,’’ Conlin said as he conceded defeat.
“I hope she will serve the people of Seattle effectively during her time in office,’’ said Conlin who was a city council member for 16 years.
A trained software engineer and socialist activist, 41-year-old Sawant becomes the first Socialist to win a Seattle City Council seat. In 1916, Anna Strong, a communist, was elected by the city council.
Sawant, who moved to the US with her husband Vivek Sawant who is a software engineer with Microsoft and became a US citizen in 2010, unsuccessfully contested the 2012 Washington state House of Representative elections.
Sawant, who contested as a candidate of Socialist Alternative, was also active in the Occupy Wall Street movement. She favours the minimum wage of $15 an hour, unionization of workers at major Seattle-based companies, including Amazon.com, tax on millionaires to fund city services, rent control and a moratorium on deportation of illegal immigrants from the US.
A computer science graduate of Bombay University, Sawant earned her Ph.D in economics from North Carolina University and is currently a part-time teacher.