The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 77/No. 10      March 18, 2013

Seattle: Socialist candidates turn
ballot restrictions into opportunity
(front page)
SEATTLE—The Socialist Workers Party launched election campaigns for mayor, city council and port commissioner at a public meeting here March 2, announcing plans to get on the ballot by raising more than $3,000 for filing fees through donations from working people who want to support an independent working-class political voice.

“The propertied rulers and their capitalist politicians have no solution to the crisis of capitalism. Their answers, like the so-called sequester, make its effects on working people worse,” Mary Martin, SWP candidate for mayor, told the Militant. “We plan to speak as a tribune of the working class. We’ve just begun to campaign and we’re getting a good response.”

Twenty people attended the March dinner and program.

In face of the unemployment bred by the capitalist crisis, in which the size of the working class is actually beginning to contract, the candidates will be talking to workers about the need to fight for a massive government-funded public works program to put millions to work building roads, schools, hospitals, housing and others things workers need, Martin told participants at the campaign launching. “Working people need a productive life to stand on our own two feet and be in a stronger position to fight and forge solidarity”

Speaking on the panel, in addition to Martin, were John Naubert, SWP candidate for King County Port Commissioner; Edwin Fruit, the party’s candidate for City Council District 6; and campaign supporter Bryce Phillips-Horvath, 22, a laid-off production worker.

Back port workers’ fight

“My campaign for port commissioner stands with International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 4 workers in Vancouver, Wash., locked out by United Grain, and with workers at the SeaTac Airport and port truck drivers who have been fighting to organize unions,” Naubert told meeting participants. “These workers should have control over their working conditions in dangerous jobs, not the billionaire owners of the shipping companies, grain conglomerates and airline industries.”

The union fight by custodians and other workers in the airport terminal and the by the port truck drivers come under the jurisdiction of the Port of Seattle, Naubert said in an interview with the Militant.

“The port drivers, many of whom are immigrants from East Africa, are a good example of what the SWP campaign supports,” he stated. “They went on strike last year over low return for transport of containerized cargo and discriminatory practices by operators and harassment by state police. As so-called owner-operators they are supposedly legally barred from organizing a union. But last year they organized and went on strike anyway, and wrested concessions from the bosses on pay and other issues.

“Longshore workers throughout the country have been going through difficult contract negotiations with grain operators from Washington state to Newark, N.J.,” Naubert continued. “The SWP campaign also stands with them as well as fellow workers on the docks around the world, like those who recently took to the streets in Port Said in Egypt. We distribute the Militant in the course of our campaigning, not merely to let workers know about each others’ struggles, but to point a road forward how we can replace the capitalist system that exploits us.”

“It’s important to run a campaign like this,” Phillips-Horvath told participants at the March 2 event. “I wasn’t so sure of this until recently. I worked for a Democratic Party campaign a few years ago. I found you had to dumb yourself down and you had to ignore what you know is true in order to participate. I feel that the Republicans and Democrats are basically hostile to the working class.”

“What do we have as opposed to those who tell you to participate in the game?” Phillips-Horvath continued. “We say revolution is possible through our creativity and hard work. The bourgeois candidates pay their filing fees in a second—$1,000, $2,000, it’s nothing to them! For us the effort to organize and get on the ballot, it is a victory. We can’t lose! Good luck to all our candidates!”

One participant asked about the candidates’ position on plans for rail cars to transport coal from Wyoming to coal terminals in Washington state for shipment to China and elsewhere. “Some unions favor the coal trains and coal terminals as a way to create more jobs, but what about the environment?”

Under capitalism, the bosses’ concern is maximizing profits, which can only be done at the expense of workers and the environment we live in, said city council candidate Edwin Fruit. “But we don’t start with how to prevent pollution from coal dust in Seattle,” he said. “Covers can be put on the coal trains, sprayers can be used to keep down dust in the coal terminals. Workers can fight for these things, which cut into profits. But our politics starts with the interests of workers worldwide.”

Communists never oppose energy production and the progress of modern industry, only the way it is organized under capitalism, which must be overthrown, the socialist candidates explain. Working people in the U.S. and other imperialist nations should champion and welcome the expansion of productive forces, the working class, and of cultural life to billions of fellow toilers in the less developed nations of Asia, Latin American and Africa, who confront the same enemy and are also more and more beginning to fight in their own interests.

Martin announced the candidates would seek ballot status in the August primary and explained that state regulations limit donations to $25 per person per candidate, in order to not have to disclose names of contributors. Sixteen people responded to the appeal, raising the necessary $100 filing fee to put Naubert on the ballot for port commissioner plus $300 towards the $1,200 filing fee for Fruit for city council and $400 for the $1,800 filing fee for Martin for mayor.

“The fee and disclosure requirements mean that more than 72 workers will be contributing money to get the socialist candidates on the ballot,” Martin told the Militant.

“Organizing to meet these regulations, designed to restrict working-class candidates access to the ballot, provide us with yet another opportunity to reach out broadly, to explain what the socialist campaign is about and how workers can be part of it,” said Fruit.

Related articles:
SWP launches election campaigns in New York
Support Socialist Workers candidates!
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home