DALLAS — “Really the only way to change things is what they are doing,” Katelyn Galbreath told Socialist Workers Party campaigner Sarah Ullman, pointing to the photo of Kentucky teachers protesting at the state Capitol last year depicted on the front cover of In Defense of the US Working Class, a new book by Mary-Alice Waters. “The advantage we have is that there are more of us.”
Ullman was knocking on doors here campaigning for Alyson Kennedy, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor. Following their discussion about the conditions working people face, and how it is possible to fight to change them, Galbreath told Ullman, “I’m probably a socialist too.”
Kennedy and her campaign supporters have been going door to door in working-class neighborhoods in Dallas and the greater Dallas-Fort Worth region. “We have gotten a good response everywhere we go talking about the Socialist Workers Party,” SWP campaign director George Chalmers told the Militant. “We get out the map to plan where we’re going town to town. We’ve been to Midlothian, Waxahachie, Weatherford, Tyler, Canton and other places in the region, as well as all over Dallas. We’ve found that many of the smaller cities and towns have substantial industries and farming areas around them, where workers have been harder hit by the capitalist economic crisis than in Dallas.”
After meeting Kennedy when she knocked on his door in West Dallas, 26-year-old Manuel Palacios came to a public campaign meeting Jan. 19 featuring Kennedy; Dan Fein, SWP candidate for Chicago mayor; and Osborne Hart, SWP candidate for mayor in Philadelphia. “I came to find out more about the Kennedy for Dallas campaign,” Palacios told the Militant, “but I got interested in what the other candidates had to say too — about the police on trial for murder in Chicago, the high suicide rate among struggling farmers, and the solidarity of construction workers in Pittsburgh supporting nurses on strike there.”
Some 25 people attended the event marking the first full week of campaigning. A co-worker of Kennedy’s, originally from Mexico, who has been helping to campaign door to door with her, was also on hand for the meeting.
Kennedy thanked all those who had come to Dallas to fan out and talk to working people throughout the region about the Socialist Workers Party. “When we go door to door, workers want to tell us what they’re going through,” Kennedy said. “And there’s a lot of interest in the SWP’s program, which points to the need for the working class to take political power to end the system of exploitation that is damaging so many working people.
“A lot of workers, self-employed laborers and drivers, small proprietors and others we meet want to talk about immigration and the border wall being promoted by President Trump,” Kennedy said. “They see this as an important issue for working people to discuss. We explain to everyone that we advocate amnesty for the millions of undocumented workers in this country, many of whom have lived and worked in the United States for years. Their children have grown up here, and spent their years in school here.”
“We find a lot of support for this position,” she said.
“Amnesty is needed to strengthen the entire working class. When millions of workers here are forced into second-class status, fearful about deportation if they speak out and fight for their rights, for higher pay and safe working conditions, and for unions, it means all workers are less capable of making gains,” Kennedy said. “In addition, I talk about the need for the labor movement to build solidarity with workers’ struggles in other countries. The solution to the devastating conditions around the world isn’t for every worker to pour into the U.S.; it’s for solidarity among workers across borders and for the working class in all countries to fight for political power, just like we need to do here.”
‘How can I help?’
Kennedy described some of the workers she and her campaign supporters are meeting door to door, what they’re discussing, and how they’re buying books about working-class politics and the Militant newspaper, and their willingness to sign the petition to get her on the ballot. Many have offered to help.
One worker wrote to Kennedy after reading about her campaign. He wants to help after he is finished with a maintenance shutdown at a GM plant where he is working seven days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day.
Another worker at the Lockheed Martin-Marietta plant, who campaigners met on a trip to Weatherford, said he agreed with the socialist candidate that raising a family is no longer affordable for young people. He bought Malcolm X, Black Liberation, and the Road to Workers Power by SWP National Secretary Jack Barnes and emptied out his coin jar to contribute $37.
In East Dallas, Kennedy met Kelly Alford and spoke to her about the SWP campaign. “How can I help?” Alford asked. “How can we expect changes when no matter who we vote for the same kind of people always end up in power?”
“The capitalists’ response to today’s crisis of their system is to try and drive down wages and our standard of living to ensure their profits,” Kennedy said. “The government of the Democrats and Republicans backs this setup.”
Alford said she is concerned about police brutality, racism, capitalism, women’s rights and the environment. She got a subscription to the Militant and signed the petition to put Kennedy on the ballot. “Can I have a petition to take to the dry cleaners where I work?” she asked. “I think I can get some signatures.” She also wants more information on the upcoming May Day brigade to Cuba.
Widespread press coverage
Novedades, a Dallas/Fort Worth Spanish-language newspaper with a press run of 100,000, featured a front-page lead article on Kennedy’s campaign, titled, “Former Presidential Candidate Aspires to Dallas Mayor’s Office.” The lengthy article outlines the SWP candidate’s working-class program. And it describes her participation in the 2003-06 United Mine Workers union struggle in central Utah where she joined with her Mexican co-workers to fight for a contract.
The Dallas Observer assigned a writer to interview Kennedy and to go with her as she campaigned door to door. SWP campaigners have met many people door to door who have read coverage of the campaign in the Dallas Morning News and other papers and have been impressed by the serious articles about a working-class candidate.
Nine candidates have announced they are running for mayor here. They include lawyers, real estate developers, former aides in the Bill Clinton campaign, CEOs who describe themselves as philanthropists, and others who represent the wealthy beneficiaries of capitalist exploitation. Kennedy’s short biography, run alongside all the others in each Morning News article about the mayor’s race, presents Kennedy’s starkly different working-class life and perspective:
“Occupation: Wal-Mart employee. Kennedy was a minor candidate for president in 2016, earning a spot on seven states’ ballots. Now, the socialist candidate says she wants to improve conditions for workers in Dallas.”