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Socialist Sawant Takes Lead Over Conlin in Seattle Council Race

Elaine Thompson
Associated Press
FILE - In this photo taken Aug. 1, 2013, Seattle City Council candidate Kshama Sawant, right, speaks with a restaurant worker during a demonstration in Seattle.

A Socialist candidate has taken the lead as an updated ballot count was released on Tuesday afternoon in a close Seattle City Council race.

Kshama Sawant initially trailed incumbent Richard Conlin by more than 6,000 votes, but is now leading by about 40 votes—79,751 to 79,710.

“I think the results that we got today confirm that people in Seattle and, indeed, everywhere in the country are actually eager and hungry for a big political shift,” Sawant said Tuesday.

Sawant is a former software engineer and economist who made a proposed $15 an hour minimum wage the centerpiece of her campaign. She said her campaign’s “emphatic support” of a higher minimum wage succeeded in shaping the discussion this election season.

“Our campaign, along with the fast food workers’ movement, was able to challenge the business-as-usual candidates to shift their focus and actually talk about $15 an hour,” she said. “What we’ve already accomplished during the campaign is an indication of what we can accomplish going forward.”

The next count of ballots for elections in King County will be released at 4:30 on Wednesday.

More mail-in ballots may be counted before election results are certified Nov. 26.

Conlin is seeking his fifth term on the city council.

Council races in Seattle are non-partisan but Sawant won a court decision to list her Socialist preference on the November ballot.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.
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