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May 13, 2016

Freedom Socialist Party Recommendations for the June 7, 2016 California State & San Francisco Primary Election

What an astonishing election season! Voters’ disgust with declining living standards and ineffectual government has led two outside-the-Beltway candidates to prominence.

On one hand, Trump appeals to the fear of small business owners and segments of the working class whose lives have become precarious; he panders to reactionary sentiments of xenophobia, racism and sexism. On the other hand, Sanders attracts those seeking an alternative to Wall Street. Although he calls himself a socialist, he is really about promoting a gentler, kinder for-profit system—impossible, especially when austerity and environmental destruction are the 1%’s answer to an ailing economy. Sanders champions U.S. jobs at the expense of foreign workers, and he voted for nearly every imperialist military action while in the Senate.

Now, with “the Donald” virtually clinching the GOP nomination and Clinton far ahead of Sanders, the mantra of ‘anyone but Trump’ will be used to pressure folks to vote for Clinton. This is the same refrain that has elected Democrats for the past decades, to the detriment of the working class.

The popularity and success of the Bernie Sanders campaign shows that lots of working people are open to socialism, the ideology that is the only true antidote to the economic and environmental devastation of capitalism. Luckily in California there are candidates who are for replacing the current system with a socialist one, running for President and the U.S. Senate.

U.S. President/Vice President*—Vote Monica Moorehead/Lamont Lilly

The Workers World Party (WWP) candidate, Monica Moorehead, appears on the Peace & Freedom Party (P&FP) ballot*; her Vice-President running mate is Lamont Lilly. WWP has a strong anti-capitalist 10-point program that includes concrete measures to address injustices to workers, women and people of color. They also issue a call to open the borders for immigrant rights. However, WWP unconditionally supports any regime it considers anti-imperialist, including the Assad dictatorship in Syria, whose anti-imperialist reputation in sections of the Left is undeserved. They fail to recognize the revolutionary forces within Syria and Kurdistan who are fighting against Assad and for a society run by working people. For this reason we give Moorehead critical support.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) is running Gloria La Riva for President and Eugene Puryear for Vice President on the P&FP ticket, but we cannot recommend them. They are urging registered Democrats to vote for Bernie Sanders rather than calling for a boycott of the parties of capitalism. Their persistent refusal to work with other Left parties stamps them as hopelessly sectarian and opportunist. In 2012 they endorsed Roseanne Barr to be the Peace & Freedom Party’s presidential candidate, despite the fact that she had no record as a socialist. This was part of a maneuver, worthy of the dirtiest Big Party politicians, to prevent the candidates of any other socialist organization, including the FSP, from gaining Peace and Freedom's nomination. Barr recently revealed her ultra-right pro-Zionist sentiments. To their discredit, the PSL continues to block efforts for joint anti-capitalist electoral campaigns among the Left.

US Senator—Vote John Thompson Parker

Thirty-four candidates are vying for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat in a primary where the top two vote-getters go on to the general election.

John Thompson Parker of WWP is on the ballot as a Peace and Freedom Party candidate. His leaflet header is “Abolish Capitalism, Black Lives Matter, Stop the War on Immigrants, Fight for Socialism.” His demands include $15/hour in 2016, ending the prison industrial complex, defunding the military and using the money for free healthcare, housing, childcare, full employment and education. As with the WWP presidential candidate, we give him our critical support.

The Socialist Workers Party also has a candidate in this Senate race, Eleanor García, listed as ‘no party preference’. Due to electoral laws that discriminate against third party candidates, the SWP is forced to run candidates without mentioning their party affiliation on the ballot. A February 2016 Militant interview indicates she has a union history, is a defender of abortion and worked to free the Cuban Five. However, there are no demands or platform issues listed, and she has no statement in the voters pamphlet. This hardly seems like a serious campaign.

San Francisco Ballot Measures

A few local ballot measures are important to weigh in on. Although the proposals offer weak reforms for serious problems, our working-class voices need to be heard. Especially so in San Francisco, where the Mayor and Board of Supervisors have shamefully given the city keys to capitalist interests through billion dollar corporate tax breaks for tech giants.

SF Proposition A: Public Health and Safety Bonds—VOTE NO

These general obligation bonds of up to $350 million are to improve community health, emergency response, and animal care facilities for earthquake safety, including seismic retrofits to the Pricilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg SF General Hospital. Running from 2016 to 2038, the estimated annual average tax would be $54.24 - $77.03 on properties valued at $600,000. Landlords would be allowed to pass up to 50% of this property tax on to their tenants.

Good causes, but bond measures disproportionally burden working-class people. Residents cannot afford new taxes when rents and property values are forcing working and poor people out of the city. Instead, the supervisors should tax SF’s numerous corporations and the ultra-rich to provide quality public health services. If the city is going to rename hospitals for tech billionaires, get them to pay for these upgrades.

There are two other measures that resort to regressive taxes where we recommend a ‘No’ vote: SF Proposition B: Park, Recreation and Open Space Fund would extend by 15 years an existing bond measure based on property taxes. District Measure AA: the Clean and Healthy Bay Parcel Tax would impose, for the next 21 years, a $12-annual tax on all parcels in the nine counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay for the restoration of wetlands. Corporate polluters, like Chevron, should be made to pay for this clean-up instead of taxing the Bay Area’s working-class residents.

SF Proposition C: Affordable Housing Requirements—VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE

This proposal would increase the required percentage of affordable housing that must be included in new developments. It would raise from 12% to 25% the number of new units defined as affordable, with 15% reserved for low and very low income households. Low income is defined as households making 55-80% of the median income, while middle income is 100-120% of the median (in SF in 2015 the median was $71,350 for one person). The measure would also give the Board of Supervisors the power to change this type of requirement by ordinance, where currently it can only be changed by a vote of the people.

San Francisco is in dire need of affordable and low income housing as corporate developers drive property costs up while government has ceased building public housing. On the one hand, this proposal increases the number of ‘affordable’ units; on the other hand, it takes decision-making power away from voters. You decide.

SF Proposition D: Office of Citizen Complaints Investigations—VOTE YES

This proposal would expand the function of the Police Department’s Office of Citizen Complaints (OCC), which currently only investigates police misconduct if a complaint is filed. Under this ordinance, the OCC would be required to investigate any incident in which a police officer fires a gun and causes death or injury to a civilian.

The OCC, whose members are appointed by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors and which operates under the supervision of the Police Commission, is a far cry from what is needed: an independent, community accountable, elected civilian review board with the power to fire, discipline and retrain officers. However, this proposition is a small improvement and deserves support.

SF Proposition E: Paid Sick Leave—VOTE YES

This amends the City’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance to expand the breadth of uses to include domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking suffered by an employee (important especially to women), as well as for bone marrow or organ donation. It also requires sick leave accrual to begin on the first day of employment, and improves record keeping and reporting by employers.

Finally, a measure we can get behind without reservation! Fair paid sick leave is absolutely essential, especially for women workers, who are most often the caretakers in families. We should continue to demand further sick leave expansions as well as employer funded childcare!

A summary of these recommendations is attached which you may take into the voting booth.

In struggle,
Luma Nichol
Bay Area Organizer


Freedom Socialist Party Recommendations for the June 7, 2016 California State & San Francisco Primary Election

U.S. President/Vice President Monica Moorehead/Lamont Lilly
US Senator John Thompson Parker
SF Proposition A: Public Health and Safety Bonds VOTE NO
SF Proposition B: Park, Recreation & Open Space Fund VOTE NO
SF Proposition C: Affordable Housing Requirements YOU DECIDE
SF Proposition D: Office of Citizen Complaints Investigations VOTE YES
SF Proposition E: Paid Sick Leave VOTE YES
District Measure AA: the Clean and Healthy Bay Parcel Tax VOTE NO

*To vote Peace & Freedom Party, you must register as a P&FP voter by May 23.