In a lengthy Q&A, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray told Salon that it was "absolutely incorrect" for city council member Kshama Sawant to suggest that Murray and his opponent, former mayor Mike McGinn, were "very carefully avoiding" the issue of a potential $15 minimum wage until the Sawant campaign and fast food workers made it impossible to ignore.
Murray told Salong reporter Josh Eidelson that "it’s really sad to see progressives questioning other progressives’ motivations," and pointed out that at a Stranger-sponsored candidate forum last year, he said he supported a $15 minimum.
"I think it's unfortunate that she is questioning folks’ motivation. I certainly am not questioning hers," Murray said. "My experience, particularly in spending 17 years working on gay and lesbian – first the civil rights bill and then the marriage bill – is: When progressives are divided and questioning each other, we lose every single time.
However, Eidelson notes, Murray "credited fast food strikes and a $15 referendum in nearby Seatac with raising public awareness of the need for a raise"—an acknowledgement that the momentum for increasing Seattle's minimum wage (currently $9.32, the state minimum) has come from workers themselves.
On Sunday, Sawant (joined by what 15now.org and Socialist Alternative spokesman Philip Locker describes as "a notable list of speakers and endorsers) will speak at a rally to launch the 15 Now campaign. Sawant, who is also a member of Murray's new minimum-wage panel (which also includes representatives of business, labor, and nonprofits), is moving forward on a separate track with the more hard-line $15-minimum campaign.
As we reported yesterday, Locker will be attending future committee meetings as Sawant's staff representative, although he does not work for (and isn't being paid by) Sawant. Locker says he's "trying to sort out" his specific employment situation and isn't currently being paid by anyone, "but my political activity is very clear: I'm a spokesperson for the Socialist Alternative" party.