Let’s suppose Sandeep Kaushik’s analysis is pretty close to predictive. It’s not cause for optimism among those who’d like to see the city council move even a little bit toward the center. Nothing changes if Kshama Sawant is re-elected. Her deliberate high profile makes her the public face of the council. Reaction she sparks drives negative attitudes toward the whole group.
Yes, looking at November results that could give us Alex Pedersen in District 4, Heidi Wills in District 6 (though I’d much prefer youthful, earnest Dan Strauss, a neighbor when he was growing up), most likely Jim Pugel edging out Andrew Lewis in District 7, and re-election of Debora Juarez in District 5, you’ve got a group of pretty thoughtful – by today’s standards – “moderates.” That’s four votes.
And following Kaushik’s analysis, the other victors could well be Lisa Herbold in District 1; Tammy Morales, who’s aligned with the Democratic Socialists of America, and Kshama Sawant, self-styled leader of the Socialist Alternative “movement” to overthrow capitalism. Sawant’s role leading a “workers’ movement” is her touchstone in answer to nearly every question at candidate appearances. Add citywide council member Teresa Mosqueda, who’s strongly union, and this creates a group to the “left” that will continue to aggressively look to business taxes for revenue. That’s four votes.
And in that division, Lorena Gonzalez, the other citywide council member not up for re-election this year, could end up a crucial swing vote for either group, depending on the issue.
Nevertheless, that won’t be the most important dynamic going forward. That’s still Sawant if she’s re-elected. She’ll continue to dominate the council, pushing her ideological agenda, intimidating and dragging along other members, filling the chamber with her partisans every time she wants to grandstand on an issue. (Hey, those are citizens, waving signs, and sometimes shouting. What council member on the dais wants to speak against them?)
Sawant’s personality and loudly articulated positions will continue to symbolize the council for much of the public. That’s why, if Sawant is defeated, no matter what happens in the other six races, public attitudes toward the council will greatly improve and that might make it easier for the council to actually get things done.