Seattle City Council's Sawant: Is a big clash coming?

SEATTLE -- Seattle’s newest City Council member is already making waves even before taking office.

At a Machinists rally Monday night in Westlake Park, Kshama Sawant minced no words when it came to Boeing’s management.

“We salute the Machinists for having the courage to reject this blatant highway robbery from the executives of Boeing in pursuit of their endless, endless thirst for private profit,” Sawant said.

But Boeing wasn’t Sawant’s only target.  She also took aim at both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Olympia for approving the historic $9 billion tax-break package to try to guarantee the 777X would be built in the state.

“We have to condemn the state Legislature for capitulating yet again,” she said.  “Yet again.”

It doesn’t seem that Sawant has plans to tone down her rhetoric to fit in to Seattle's nine-member City Council.  Nor is she worried about getting along with Olympia, which, it should be pointed out, controls a lot of purse strings for Seattle.  Indeed, the big question when it comes to Sawant is whether she will be willing to compromise with her colleagues, or whether her socialism will make her a permanent outsider.

The $15 minimum wage idea for Seattle will be the first big test of her style.  She’s pushing for it hard.  Mayor-elect Ed Murray says he supports the idea, but wants to phase it in and work with all parties – labor, business, and others – to find a plan they can all agree on.  He doesn’t want a divisive ballot measure such as that occurring in SeaTac.

Sawant, however, doesn’t seem ready to give him much slack.

“We are fed up with empty election-year promises,” Sawant said.  “We want action, and we want $15 an hour in 2014.”

Will she participate in minimum wage negotiations, or go straight to the people with a ballot measure?

Everyone is watching.