Council member-elect Kshama Sawant holds a press conference at Seattle City Hall to announce 15Now.org, and outline fight to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage in 2014.
  • Goldy | The Stranger
  • Council member-elect Kshama Sawant holds a press conference at Seattle City Hall to announce 15Now.org, and outline fight to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage in 2014.

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It wasn't so long ago that Kshama Sawant might call a press conference at which little or no press would show up. Not anymore. The City Hall lobby was crowded with TV cameras and A-list reporters this morning (the entire staff of PubliCola showed up!) for a press conference called to announce plans for passing a $15 an hour minimum wage in 2014.

The big news: Sawant intends to pass a $15 an hour minimum wage in 2014. Not 2015. Not 2016. Not by the end of mayor-elect Ed Murray's first term. And the focus of Sawant's announcement: A new website, 15now.org, intended to draw in participation from the "thousands of people out there who want to do something for $15 an hour."

"Come join us," welcomed Sawant, emphasizing that it is her job—as a newly elected city council member—to reach out to the working people of Seattle and represent their interests. "Seattle has elected a Socialist," Sawant proclaimed. "The people have spoken." And she clearly views her election as a mandate to pass the $15 minimum wage proposal that she made the centerpiece of her campaign. (Ansel has posted video of Sawant's opening remarks here.)

Among those joining Sawant at the podium was SEIU 775NW vice president Sterling Harders, who is beginning to look like Sawants new best friend ("We are proud to stand with council member Sawant," Harders exclaimed after receiving an equally enthusiastic introduction from Sawant), and NAACP of Seattle-King County economic development chair Dr. Sheley Secrest, who described the $15 an hour struggle as the "unfinished business" of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. "This is a civil rights issue," proclaimed Secrest, who is also the staff attorney and policy associate for the Alliance for a Just Society.

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Also joining Sawant at the podium were Carlos Hernandez (the fast food striker who was fired for allegedly giving a child a cookie) and Pastor Rich Lang of the University Temple United Methodist Church, who made an impassioned plea for fixing an economic system that is no longer working for most Americans: "There needs to be a working class alternative to the politics of the powerful," argued Lang.

Afterwards Sawant took questions from the throng of reporters, and she did quite well. There's something refreshing (something refreshingly honest) about a politician who speaks bluntly in defense of their agenda without fear of the electoral consequences. You don't have to agree with Sawant to agree that she's not trying to bullshit anyone. And I suspect that this will ultimately play well with a political press corps tired of the usual political games.