SEATTLE — A large crowd assembled Monday afternoon at Seattle City Hall to witness the swearing-in of Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant. Each was making history, Murray as the city’s first gay mayor and Sawant as the city’s first elected socialist in a century.
“Our moral test as a community and as a city government will be our willingness and our ability to address – and to overcome – that which fragments us,” said Murray in front of hundreds who had assembled.
Normally, the inauguration of new mayor and City Council members is an important event, but it’s hardly ever an international event. Even Al Jazeera TV was in town covering the swearing-in.
Most of the eyes were on Sawant, who attended her first official City Council meeting Monday afternoon. People are fascinated to see this rare situation where a declared socialist, who wants to end capitalism, is going to fare in city government.
“This city has made glittering fortunes for the super wealthy and for the major corporations that dominate Seattle’s landscape,” Sawant said in an atypical inauguration speech. “At the same time, the lives of working people, the unemployed and the poor grow more difficult by the day. The cost of housing skyrockets, and education and health care becomes inaccessible.
“In this system, the market is God,” Sawant said in her speech, “and everything is sacrificed on the altar of profit. Capitalism has failed the 99 percent.”
Others who were sworn in Monday included incumbent City Attorney Pete Holmes and City Council members Nick Licata, Mike O’Brien and Sally Bagshaw.