During her campaign, she condemned economic inequality, contending that some people aren't benefiting from the city's declining jobless rate, ongoing recovery from the recession, and downtown building boom.
"This is one of wealthiest cities in the wealthiest country in the world," she said. "For people to struggle for basic needs is absurd."
City Council races are technically non-partisan in Seattle. Sawant, however, made sure people knew she was running as a Socialist, a label that would ensure defeat in many areas of the country.
Socialists have run for office in Seattle before. Before Sawant, the most successful candidate was Yolanda Alaniz, who in 1991 emerged from the primary in second place but was easily defeated in the general election.
"There were certainly populist candidates," said Cline, the city archivist. "I don't think any of them you could remotely call Socialist. Certainly there has never been anybody who has run as strongly as Sawant has."