Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant raises her fist in the air as she arrives for 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 raises her fist in the air as she arrives for a press conference on Saturday, November 9, 2019, at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Sawant declares come from behind victory in Seattle City Council race

City Councilmember Kshama Sawant declared victory in District 3 over opponent Egan Orion Saturday morning before cheering supporters at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in the Central District.

After falling short election night with 46.5 percent of the vote, the incumbent surged back and now leads with 51.8 percent — over 1,500 votes. King County confirmed Saturday that fewer than 1,000 ballots are left to be counted in the race.

Greeted by supporters in red Socialist Alternative shirts holding a large banner bearing the slogan "Tax Amazon," Sawant waited for silence before quietly saying, "looks like our movement has won.”

Sawant had been trailing Orion for two days until ballots released Friday pushed her to take the lead. Orion's campaign did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

She credited these late ballot returns from “working class and younger voters who lean left.” Volunteers for the campaign went "ballot chasing" Saturday, finding voters whose ballots could not be accepted and were likely to vote for Sawant.

This election, Sawant said, was a “repudiation of the billionaire class." She called out Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and the company’s big donations in Seattle City Council races.

“And in the end Jeff Bezos did throw in the kitchen sink — perhaps not to his benefit,” Sawant said.

Supporters including Ubah Warsame-Aden, center, clap for Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant during a press conference on Saturday, November 9, 2019, at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle.
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Supporters including Ubah Warsame-Aden, center, clap for Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant during a press conference on Saturday, November 9, 2019, at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

New taxes on the city’s richest came up multiple times in Sawant’s speech. She said she looks forward to working with her new fellow council members to pass a corporate head tax on large corporations like Amazon.

Amazon’s donations came up with multiple Sawant supporters who called it an attempt to buy the City Council, that ultimately backfired.

“At Amazon it is common to write a Correction of Error document when a critical system fails,” said Suresh Chanmugam, a software engineer, “and I’m sure in their Correction of Error document they will talk about how it was a mistake.”

Sawant also called for rent control, a green new deal, and a massive expansion of social housing and services in the city. When discussing the political fight she sees ahead, Sawant took the opportunity to endorse fellow socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary.