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   Vol.65/No.32            August 20, 2001 
Socialist joins Seattle mayoral debate
SEATTLE--Ernest Mailhot, a meat packer and member of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, participated in two recent mayoral debates here as the Socialist Workers candidate for mayor of Seattle.

Several people clapped in the first debate when Mailhot pointed to the exclusion of one of the candidates from the debate. "Omari Tahir-Garrett, an activist in the Black community," stated Mailhot, "is being held on an outrageous bail of $250,000. This is being done to take the heat off the police who killed Aaron Roberts. I call for all the candidates to speak out against this attack on democratic rights and I further call for the prosecution and jailing of the cops who killed Roberts."

Roberts, a Black resident of Seattle's Central District, was killed May 31. The police claim that he grabbed the arm of a cop and held it while driving, shifting gears, and fighting off another cop, who entered the passenger side of the car and shot Roberts. Witnesses have come forward to contradict this police cover-up.

A few weeks after several protests against the cop killing of Roberts, Mayor Paul Schell spoke in the Central District at an event the Seattle Weekly described as "primarily white," and "developer- oriented." This activity angered many in the Black community as it was held at the same place where Roberts died at the hands of the police. It was during a protest of this event that Tahir-Garrett was arrested and charged with hitting the mayor.

None of the other candidates spoke directly about the cop killing or Tahir-Garrett's bail, which was later lowered to $25,000. In the second debate Mailhot also called for the firing of the cops who lined up a group of Asian youth against a wall for 45 minutes and taunted them with racial abuse. The cops claim they stopped the youth for supposedly jaywalking.

Mayor Schell responded to the socialist candidates comments by saying the Seattle police force was a very good police force. Mark Sidran, the city attorney and another Democratic Party candidate for mayor, defended the cops by saying they were needed in the Black community because, according to him, so many Blacks commit crimes against other Blacks.

Schell said progress was being made in providing low-income housing, and he and another big-business candidate, County Councilman Greg Nickels, said they supported the building of a multibillion dollar light rail system to deal with Seattle's traffic problem. Mailhot explained that with an estimated 6,500 homeless people in Seattle, progress was not being made on this front and that the proposed light rail system was widely seen by working people as being an inadequate and costly plan that would disrupt whole communities. Mailhot called for a massive, government-funded public works program that would provide jobs at union scale wages to build much needed affordable housing, and transportation that would be accessible and inexpensive for all, as well as hospitals, child-care centers, and more.

Mailhot pointed out that Washington is preparing for more wars abroad--both against its imperialist rivals and against working people resisting the worsening conditions imposed by capitalism. He pointed to the U.S. military's use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques for practice naval maneuvers and the billions being spent "for the development of Washington's nuclear first-strike capacity" through its antiballistic missile program. "War, racism, police brutality, and assaults on our unions is what the Democrats and Republicans have to offer," he said.

In the debates Mailhot pointed to the growing resistance among working people to the effects of capitalism. "Many of you may think the big-business candidates here are more realistic than I am, " stated Mailhot. "And they are, in the sense that they offer more of the same of capitalist degradation, economic crisis, war, and racism. My campaign is the only realistic one because it offers the only solution for workers, farmers and youth today: joining the fight to replace the capitalist government with one of workers and farmers that will be part of the worldwide struggle to get rid of capitalism once and for all."

Mailhot was mentioned in several newspaper articles as the candidate who points to the Cuban Revolution as the example for working people. Several of Mailhot's co-workers at the meatpacking plant where he is employed are following the campaign. After reading Mailhot's campaign brochure, one co-worker said he thought it was great that the socialist candidate talked about international struggles, including the fight for independence of Puerto Rico and defense of the Cuban Revolution.
Related article:
Socialist in Massachusetts seeks ballot slot in Congressional race  
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