Budget Veto Overridden Thanks to Public Outrage

Posted on September 27th, 2020

Earlier this week, Democratic Councilmembers were preparing to uphold Mayor Durkan’s veto of the August budget vote. This would have overturned the reforms that were just passed under pressure from the Black Lives Matter movement and Councilmember Sawant’s office, such as a small reduction in the police budget and an end to the city’s “Navigation Team” in charge of sweeping homeless encampments. 

Despite the Democrats’ backdoor negotiations with the mayor to propose a gutted budget, the veto was overridden under ferocious pressure from the movement, after ordinary people packed the council meeting’s public comment on Tuesday with scathing criticism of the attempted sellout. Only Councilmember Sawant made her opposition clear and fought alongside the movement to override Durkan’s veto.

Just two months ago, in response to the Justice for George Floyd movement, 7 out of the 9 councilmembers pledged to defund the Seattle Police Department by at least 50%. This pledge was dramatically reduced to 1% by the time it came to a vote! And now that they’re not feeling the pressure of massive street protests, establishment Democrats considered stripping out even that small 1% budget reduction.

Kshama Sawant has been the only consistent voice to actively fight for the movement’s demands, putting forward legislation in August to defund SPD by 50% and invest in real community needs while other Councilmembers refused to support it. This is yet another reason why we need Councilmember Sawant’s voice in City Hall.

In direct response to Kshama’s political leadership and the gains she has helped working people win through struggle, the right wing and big business have gone on the attack against her. The campaign to recall Kshama is not just an attempt to remove a working class fighter from the Council, but also to silence our broader movement. Billionaires like ICE landlord and recall campaign donor Martin Selig are furious about the Amazon Tax, the $15 minimum wage, and other historic victories Councilmember Sawant has helped lead. 

In order to continue winning change that benefits working people, we have to stand up to these sorts of attacks. That means urgently moving into action in response to the recall campaign. The first step is cancelling out the initial money that the recall campaign has raised — $50,000. We set a goal of reaching $50,000 in donations to the Kshama Solidarity Campaign by midnight tonight.
 If everyone reading this donated $20 right now, we would reach that target in no time.

We know that this is just the first of many challenges ahead of us. We have the experience of last year’s re-election campaign, where we saw Amazon and the Chamber of Commerce dump record sums of money into the City Council races to try to take out Kshama and install a slate of corporate-friendly candidates. That’s why we need to get on firm financial ground right now, to prepare for the ensuing attacks in the fight ahead.