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Seattle's Socialist councilwoman to accept less than half of $117K salary

David Ryder / Reuters

Kshama Sawant addresses the crowd after being sworn in as a Seattle City Douncil member at City Hall in Seattle, Wash., on Jan. 6, 2014.

Seattle’s only Socialist City Council member announced Monday that she will make good on a campaign pledge and accept only $40,000 a year in salary — bringing her down to the average wage of a worker in the city.

The remainder of the roughly $117,000 salary will go to social justice causes such as strike funds, civil rights and women’s rights, she said in a statement.

"Every Councilmember faces a choice of who they represent and which world they inhabit,” said Kshama Sawant, who took office earlier this month. “My place is with working people and their struggles. I want to give a voice to workers, trade union members, women, and immigrants. As a Councilmember, I re-commit to a fundamentally different political outlook. In line with the principles of the political party I represent, Socialist Alternative, I pledged to stay accountable to working people by taking only average workers' wage.”

She added:

"Seattle City Councilmembers receive over $117,000 a year — the second highest of any city council in the country. Inevitably, such a salary removes Councilmembers from the realities of life for working people. I will only take home $40,000 per year. This amount is roughly the full-time take-home pay of a Seattleite.

"After paying taxes, the remainder of my salary will go to a Solidarity Fund to help build social justice movements. Throughout the year I will be making donations from this Solidarity Fund to causes such as workers' strike funds, and environmental, civil rights, and women's rights campaigns.”

Sawant was the first Socialist to be elected in Seattle in about 100 years, City Council staff told The Associated Press.

She was elected last November largely on income equality issues — a $15/hour minimum wage, affordable housing as well as higher taxes on the wealthy. Her opponent, Richard Conlin, was a 16-year-member of the council and backed by the political establishment.

Sawant was not immediately available for comment.