Joseph Brian "Joe" Szwaja (born October 10, 1956) is a Seattle public school teacher and political activist. Formerly a Madison, Wisconsin City Council member, he unsuccessfully ran in 2000 for a seat in the United States Congress in Template:Ushr as a Green Party candidate and again in 2007 ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Seattle City Council against incumbent Jean Godden .
In November 1999, Szwaja received a local United Nations Association of Seattle's Human Rights Award for his work helping war victims in East Timor. During the 2000 United States Congressional elections, Szwaja captured nearly 20% of the vote, which at the time set a new record for a Green in a Congressional election.
Early life and time in WisconsinEdit
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Szwaja graduated from Kenyon College in 1978, earning bachelor of arts degrees in History and Spanish Literature. In 1984 Szwaja earned a Master's degree in Latin American History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in 1992, he obtained a teaching certificate from the same institution. Szwaja speaksSpanish language and has been an educator at both Madison Area Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
While living in Madison, Wisconsin, Szwaja served four consecutive terms on the City Council from 1986 to 1993 and acted as chair of the Labor Farm Party for Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district for three years.
In 1988 Szwaja was arrested for failing to repay $2,584 in state payments of medical bills for the birth of his son. Szwaja was arrested in 1990 for domestic battery charges that were subsequently switched to disorderly conduct after throwing a plate against a wall, which cut his then-girlfriend's face, after she allegedly threw a beer bottle on Szwaja's dinner plate. The criminal complaint claims that Szwaja told the police the woman threw the bottle at his head and "he was emotionally hurt and that he threw the plate at her." He was required to take classes in anger management before the disorderly conduct charge was settled. On several occasions, Szwaja was reported to have had issues related to driving in Wisconsin. In 1989 he was found guilty of driving without a license and failed to appear at a related hearing; in 1991 he was charged with allegedly driving with a revoked driver's license. In a separate matter, a Wisconsin court issued a judgment in 1994 that Szwaja pay more than $5,100 and garnished his wages, according to Courtlink. Szwaja stated that $5,100 judgment stemmed from a child-custody and placement dispute, and it was paid off by January 2000.
Career in SeattleEdit
Today, Szwaja resides in a North Seattle neighborhood with his wife, Debra Morrison. In 1993 Swaja became a member of the East Timor Action Network of Seattle (ETAN), as both a Project and Volunteer coordinator, playing roles in lobbying and fund raising. In November 1999, Szwaja received a local United Nations Association of Seattle's Human Rights Award for his work helping war victims in East Timor. Politically, Szwaja has played local roles in Seattle against both the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, and has advocated for fair working conditions.
Szwaja has assisted a host of community groups including the Seattle International Human Rights Coalition, as their founder, as well as Common Ground Seattle, Szwaja says that that he has labored on Initiative 937 to promote renewable energy in Washington state, and that he has worked with Jobs With Justice, Community Alliance for Global Justice and the Seattle Rainforest Action Network.
Szwaja received the Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of Seattle for his work to provide humanitarian aid and protect human rights around the world. Szwaja also sits on the board of Instant Runoff Voting Washington, a multi-partisan organization that is trying to implement the system in Washington state.
Currently, Szwaja teaches at The Nova Project in Seattle, a public high school in the city's Central District. He is a teacher of American Government and Economics, World History and Weightlifting.
2000 United States Congress raceEdit
In 2000, in the aftermath of the Seattle WTO protests, Szwaja challenged Seattle U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott for his seat. He was defeated by a significant margin in the general election, by more than three to one against his candadicy.
Election results for his 2000 Congressional bid:
- From King County Elections.
2007 Seattle City Council electionEdit
Election results for his 2007 Seatte City Council bid:
- Note: This municipal election is non-partisan; hence no party is listed here.
- From King County Elections.
- Candidate statement for 2007 Seattle City Council election
- Candidate statement for 2000 U.S. Congressional election
- Instant Runoff Voting Washington (IRVWA)
- Radio debate for Seattle City Council Pos. 1, KUOW 94.9 FM Seattle, July 5, 2007
- "Joe Szwaja for Congress!" - Eat the State!, November 5, 2000
- "Avoid messy deadlocks with instant runoff voting" - Seattle Times, January 10, 2005
- High School Students at Anti-WTO Protests Give Media a Quiz On WTO - Democracy Now!, December 8th, 1999
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