They made it! Five Freedom Socialist Party candidates have qualified for the ballot in California, Oregon, Washington, and New York, thanks to thousands of voters who signed petitions and donated money to put them there.
Doorbelling volunteers are striking a responsive chord with poor and working people as they discuss implementing a living minimum wage of $10 per hour, taxing corporations to provide social services and quality education, and adopting or strengthening rent control laws. They are finding that people are parched for an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans and agree that both parties are in the pockets of big business. And they are registering scores of new voters.
In the months leading up to general elections in November, the five candidates and their supporters will continue to spread the word about their pro-labor, feminist, pro-civil rights, pro-environment, and antiwar program by campaigning door-to-door, speaking at community rallies and meetings, participating in forums and debates, and pushing for media coverage.
Their goals are to pry open the political process, offer practical socialist solutions to seemingly intractable problems, and get elected!
Marian "Muffy" Sunde, Los
California State Senate, District 22
Advocates for Sunde, 600 S. New Hampshire, Los Angeles, CA - 213-365-1792 - LAFSPRW6@aol.com
After garnering 12 percent of the vote in the California primary - the highest of any third party candidate in the June election - Sunde and her supporters are revved up.
Sunde, a tradeswoman and longtime union activist, is running on the ticket of the Peace and Freedom Party, a left electoral coalition. She offers a clear alternative to Democratic incumbent Richard Polanco.
While Polanco promotes privatizing state prisons, for example, Sunde opposes this, and insists on a halt to the criminalization of teens and young adults. At a Women's Rights Day campaign event on August 27, this demand met with applause, especially from young people of color, who feel the heat of officials' anti-gang fever. An ex-gang member in the audience offered to organize a meeting between Sunde and women in gangs to discuss working together to defend the civil liberties of young people.
Sunde is outspoken in protesting the mass injunctions that are being served against all those even suspected of associating with a gang. Threatened with arrest on sight, they are forced to spend their days inside, in cramped slum apartments, in the middle of a sweltering heat wave.
"Police can't reduce gangs and assaults. Poverty is the cause. Jobs, housing, social services and education are the solutions," asserts Sunde in her campaign leaflet.
Sunde also advocates restoring overtime pay and the eight-hour day, tightening and enforcing job safety rules, and ending unionbusting. She calls for repeal of the citizenship requirement for voting, of the recent state ban on bilingual education, and of propositions that have gutted affirmative action and curtailed the rights of undocumented workers and other immigrants.
Moises Montoya, San Francisco
SF Community College Governing Board
Advocates for Montoya, 1908 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103 - 415-864-0778 - Mmontoya98@aol.com
Running for this trustee position is no small feat given the curve balls Montoya has been thrown. Nearly halfway through the filing period, election officials told him he would have to submit quadruple the number of signatures originally stipulated - without a deadline extension. Volunteers gathered nearly 1,000 names.
The position is non-partisan, so Montoya, a gay Chicano architectural assistant, won't be identified as a Freedom Socialist candidate on the ballot. He is, however, getting across his radical message. A booster of the need for independent political action by workers through the Labor Party, he has won endorsements from grassroots organizers, students and instructors at City College of SF, and labor leaders including Robert Irminger, chair of the Inlandboatmen's Union, SF Region, and Richard Ow, a delegate to the SF Central Labor Council.
At the end of August, during a two-day strike by classified staff at City College, Montoya marched on the picket line with SEIU Local 790 members, who have worked for 14 months without a contract and are fighting the contracting out of union jobs.
In an interview with the labor council's Executive Board, he said: "We need trustees who are explicitly pro-labor and pro-student. We need a curriculum that reflects student diversity and includes labor history, bilingual programs, and women's, ethnic, and gay studies. And we need a student/labor/community board to oversee union contracts, administration policies and financial decisions.
"I will raise the need to change laws to make corporations pay their fair share of taxes and increase funds for City College and other public schools. It will take a movement to achieve this, and labor needs to play a key role in making it happen."
Adrienne Weller, Portland
Oregon State House of Representatives, District 18
Advocates for Adrienne Weller, 7038 N. Fairport Pl., Portland, OR 97217 - 503-735-0549 - email@example.com
Weller, an office worker and Jewish anti-Nazi fighter, is racking up strong support in the African American community and among rank-and-file members of AFSCME Local 328. At the Oregon Health Sciences University, where Weller has provided leadership in the past on strike picket lines, dozens of her coworkers signed a letter to urge their Executive Board to endorse her candidacy.
As a veteran champion for an independent civilian review board to provide community control over the cops, Weller has been received enthusiastically in the district. She recently cosponsored a press conference with the Black community to protest the Portland police's racist response to the murder of a young Black man.
Now, as the November 3 general election nears, Advocates for Adrienne Weller are spreading the news that a socialist feminist candidate is on the ballot. In knocking on doors and setting up information tables, her team is finding that Weller's calls for government-funded jobs for the unemployed and quality public housing for the working poor and homeless resonate profoundly with voters.
Said one woman, "I love your program. This is what I'm going to ask of my representatives: how do they stand on these issues?" Weller has won endorsements from a host of organizers in the labor, African American, Latino, Native American, queer, civil rights, and other movements. They include Dorothy Ackerman, a Sioux elder on the American Indian Movement Regional Board; Lisa Clay, an activist in the communities of color; Robert Findley, former Secretary-Treasurer of the American Federation of Musicians; Carl Geiser, an anti-fascist campaigner who fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War; and Eduardo Martinez, a Chicano activist.
Weller will appear on the ballot as an independent because of a backward Oregon law that does not allow two parties to each use the word "socialist" in their names in elections.
Guerry Hoddersen, Seattle
Washington State House of Representatives, 37th District, Position 2
As we go to press, Hoddersen and her committee are mobilizing for the September primary, in which she must win one percent of the vote to go on to the general election. Of course, their sights are set much higher!
But already Hoddersen, who is the Freedom Socialist Party organizer in Seattle, has won a victory for socialist candidates. In August, the state Public Disclosure Commission exempted her campaign from financial disclosure requirements that mandate the release of donor names because of the proven record of harassment against socialist supporters.
While Democratic incumbent Kip Tokuda calls for tax levies on working people to fund schools, Hoddersen advocates raising taxes on corporate giants and increasing revenue from state trust lands, such as those leased to timber barons. Doorbellers are finding strong approval for her proposals to implement statewide rent control and repeal property taxes on homeowners with low and moderate incomes.
At a Women's Rights Day celebration, Hoddersen explained to the crowd how she responds to Democrats who claim that her program is not implementable.
"Everything is impossible until you try," she said. "It wasn't Implementable' to call for the end of the Vietnam War when people first did it, or to say that gays should have civil rights, or that ethnic and women studies should be included in the university.
"The system didn't give us any of these things. We took them by damn near creating a revolution. And that is how progress is made in the U.S.A. We must not buy into the idea that this is a new age where fights like those of the 1930s and '60s are pass." Hotel Employees Restaurant Employees Local 8 has endorsed Hoddersen, and SEAMEC, a gay rights civic group that scores candidates, rated her "excellent." With donations rolling in, the campaign has mailed out 2,200 candidate postcards so far and purchased yard signs that are sprouting up all around southeast Seattle. Those readers too far away to enjoy Hoddersen's yard signs can visit her campaign via the League of Women Voters website, www.democracynet.org/WA/
Stephen Durham, New York City
NY State Assembly, 71st District
Advocates for Durham, 762 Riverside Dr. #3A, NYC, NY 10031 - 212-491-5163 - firstname.lastname@example.org
Dedicated volunteers pounding the fiery New York pavements collected more than 2,000 signatures to qualify Stephen Durham, a respected labor and gay rights activist, for the assembly race. In six weeks of petitioning, Durham and his team walked the district block by block, listening to people's concerns, registering new voters, and distributing more than 10,000 campaign leaflets in Spanish and English.
"Everywhere I went, residents were fed up with do-nothing politicians who ignore the housing problems and lack of jobs that plague the district," said Durham, who has lived in Hamilton Heights in Upper Manhattan for 10 years and organizes for tenant rights. "People want to see elected officials here accomplish something concrete, not just engage in the same old Democrat and Republican power-brokering in Albany." "I see this campaign as an opportunity to give a voice to the community, especially those who face the brunt of the attacks on public education and services." Durham is proposing tougher state laws to protect the rights of women, people of color, immigrants, tenants, unions, youth, sexual minorities, elders, Jews, and the disabled. He also stands for expanded rent controls, guaranteed affordable housing for all, and the nationalization of healthcare, utilities, and major industries.
"You can't rebuild a community without providing jobs for those who live there. The state needs to guarantee union-scale jobs on construction sites and renovation projects," said Durham.
Like other Freedom Socialist candidates, Durham is a promoter of left electoral coalitions. He has won the backing of Socialist Action and Labor Militant locally. Other endorsers include Casa de las Americas; the Palestine Aid Society; author Lennie Brenner; AFSCME labor organizer Ray LaForest; and Reverend Lucius Walker, director of Pastors for Peace.
These five sterling candidates and their amazing campaign teams are committed to making an impact. They need your help! You can send donations to the addresses given after each candidate's name, and you can participate in doorbelling and other outreach by using the telephone numbers or e-mail addresses listed.
Let's get together and rock the vote!
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