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caption: Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant holds a press conference on Saturday, November 9, 2019, at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle.
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Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant holds a press conference on Saturday, November 9, 2019, at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Man loses job after launching 'Recall Sawant' drive

Earlier this week Ernie Lou and a group of other Capitol Hill residents filed a formal petition with King County to recall Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

By the end of the week Lou had lost his job. He said it was because of his involvement with the recall effort. But his employer disputes that claim.

Lou was an independent contractor with Three Dollar Bill Cinema, a nonprofit that produces the annual Seattle Queer Film Festival and the Translations Film Festival. Interim Executive Director Kathleen Mullen confirmed on Friday that Lou lost his job.

Prior to that, Three Dollar Bill Cinema had distanced itself from Lou in a statement sent to the Capitol Hill Seattle Blog.

"Three Dollar Bill Cinema’s board of directors and employees had no knowledge of this campaign, nor are associated with this recall effort. The statements and actions of this contractor are solely his own and do not reflect or represent Three Dollar Bill Cinema."

On Sunday Lou went on the record and accused Councilmember Sawant and her supporters of "bullying" Three Dollar Bill Cinema into letting him go. "This was my “Dream Job” so I am crushed," Lou said.

A spokesperson for Three Dollar Bill Cinema said his contract was terminated for reasons unrelated to the recall but did not elaborate.

Sawant was re-elected last fall to represent Council District 3, which includes Capitol Hill, the Central Area and surrounding neighborhoods. The recall group’s petition claims she “abused” her office and her power.

The recall Sawant group's charges against the council member include:

  1. Using her position to let hundreds of protesters into city hall after hours.
  2. Giving the the political party she is a member of, Socialist Alternative, power over city hiring decisions
  3. Leading a protest march as a council member to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s home, which is under the state's "address confidentiality program" due to Durkan's former job as US Attorney for Western Washington.

For now the petition drive appears to be moving forward. But Sawant is still a long way from actually being recalled.

If the recall effort is approved by the courts, the group would then still need to collect thousands of signatures from registered voters in Sawant's council district, after which a special election would be held.

Councilmember Sawant could not be reached for comment.

This story and the headline have been updated and corrected after speaking with a Three Dollar Bill Cinema spokesperson and Ernie Lou. The original story was based on an anonymous source and has since been updated with this on the record account.