Thursday, January 15, 2015

Fwd: Year in Review

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <>
Date: Jan 13, 2015 2:13 PM
Subject: Year in Review
To: <>

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My sisters and brothers,
This week marks the passage of one year since the first socialist took office in Seattle in over a century. Our election victory, a collective endeavor by everyone who worked on and supported our bold working-class campaign, came in the context of growing anger against economic inequality and the beginnings of a movement against poverty wages.
Our success reflected the decades of betrayal by corporate politicians and a search for genuine political alternatives. Under the entrenched Democratic Party establishment, Seattle has increasingly become a playground for the wealthy, with working people increasingly priced out of the city.

Over the last year, workers have succeeded in fundamentally shifting the political landscape of this city. The movement against low wages succeeded in winning a $15/hour minimum wage. Low-wage workers, 15 Now, the labor movement, and Socialist Alternative collectively waged the fight against corporations to win this historic wage increase. Seattle's victory has inspired low-wage workers everywhere to continue building the movement against income inequality.
Together with dedicated indigenous activists, we pushed establish Indigenous People's Day on the same day as the Federal holiday Columbus Day, in order to expose the brutal history of colonization in the Americas and the continued disenfranchisement of the indigenous community. It was also a recognition of the rich cultural and social identity of indigenous peoples and a step toward a larger movement for social and economic justice for disenfranchised communities.
We have campaigned against electricity rates that enable corporations like Boeing to pay lower rates than working families. While most of the city's political establishment moved to carry out status quo, corporate-friendly policies, we initiated the People's Budget campaign to fight for a fundamental shift in the city budget. Many community activists and organizations helped build our struggle for a budget that works for working people, not big developers and the wealthy. We were able to win critical amendments to the Mayor's business as usual budget - immediate implementation of $15/hour for the lowest-paid city-employed workers, funding for a year-round women's shelter, and for the first time, basic services for transitional homeless encampments.
We fought alongside the courageous low-income tenants of the Seattle Housing Authority, successfully pushing back an attempt to raise the rents of low-income people by 400% over five years. While similar policies are being forced through all over the country, Seattle again stood out in winning the first victory in this national assault on affordable housing.

We have fought hard for the each and every gain this year to improve the lives of working people.  These victories show what is possible when working people mobilize - we can overcome the resistance of the political establishment and their corporate backers.
My office has stood with the activists opposing the new youth jail, and we were the sole vote against that decision. This detention center will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, while a tiny fraction of that money will be spent on youth job programs. We have raised our voice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the anti-war movement opposed to the Israeli state's violence in Gaza, and activists fighting against climate change.
In April, our historic victory on the $15 minimum wage will begin to go into effect. As we celebrate, we need to build on this success in the fight for social and economic justice. We need a broader mass movement for affordable housing, racial justice, and progressive taxation.

One year ago, political pundits speculated about whether the election of a socialist would lead anywhere. We have shown what is possible when working people have their own representation and organize themselves independently of the pro-corporate political establishment. The pressing need for this was made crystal clear as political disillusionment led to the lowest voter turnout in half a century in the national midterm elections.
Our movement in Seattle is just beginning. Thank you to all the activists for their tremendous role so far. I hope you will join with me again this year in the fight for a city run in the interests of working people, not wealthy corporation.
In Solidarity,

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant
600 4th Ave, Floor 2
Seattle, Washington 98124
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