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Vol. 80/No. 14      April 11, 2016


Who the Socialist Workers Party candidates are

In addition to Alyson Kennedy for president and Osborne Hart for vice president, the Socialist Workers Party is running candidates across the country. The party has announced U.S. Senate candidates Eleanor García in California, Sam Manuel in Georgia, John Staggs in Pennsylvania, Jacob Perasso in New York, Dan Fein in Illinois and Cindy Jaquith in Florida. Other candidates include David Rosenfeld in Minnesota and Glova Scott in Washington, D.C., for U.S. Congress, as well as Mary Martin for governor in Washington state. In this issue we reprint biographies for Staggs and Perasso, released by the Socialist Workers Party National Campaign Committee.

John Staggs, U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania
John Staggs, 69, was born and raised on a farm in Illinois. He participated in fights against foreclosure and for government-funded cheap credit and price supports for working farmers.

He took part in civil rights movement struggles of African-Americans and their supporters in the 1960s and ’70s.

A Walmart cashier, Staggs is part of the fight for $15 an hour minimum wage, full-time work and a union for fast-food, Walmart and millions of other workers. Staggs has used his campaign to support and join rallies and picket lines of Steelworkers who were locked out for seven months by Allegheny Technologies Inc., and of workers at ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel fighting against concession contract demands.

Staggs is an opponent of Washington’s imperialist wars — in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. He calls for protests against the US-backed Turkish bombing of Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria and assaults against Kurds inside Turkey as well.

A supporter of the fight against police brutality, Staggs has joined protests against the killings of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Eric Garner in New York, Frank McQueen in Chester, Pennsylvania, and others.

Staggs joined the 2015 Philadelphia march celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and backs continuing fights to win equality and access for those with disabilities, including millions of veterans maimed by Washington’s wars.

Seeking to expand the space for working people to organize and fight — from the picket line to voting rights — Staggs used his 2006 campaign for State Assembly to successfully overturn a Pennsylvania “loyalty oath” law barring ballot status to communists and other opponents of U.S. government policies.

Jacob Perasso, U.S. Senate in New York
Jacob Perasso, 39, is a freight rail conductor for CSX railroad and a member of United Transportation Union Local 1447 in New York. He grew up in a working-class neighborhood in San Jose, California. As a 19-year-old student there he witnessed the cops cover up the killing of an unarmed worker on the block where his family lived. Perasso joined the fight to jail the cop and has been part of similar struggles ever since, including the case of Mohamed Bah, killed by police in Harlem in 2012.

As a high school student Perasso became active in struggles to defend immigrants from deportation and other forms of victimization. He joined the Young Socialists in 1996 and the Socialist Workers Party three years later.

Over the past two decades, Perasso helped organize activities in defense of Cuba’s socialist revolution, demanding an end to Washington’s strangling embargo and the return of Cuban territory at Guantánamo. He was part of the successful international campaign to win the release of the Cuban Five — revolutionaries framed up and imprisoned by Washington for defending their country against violent attacks organized from south Florida.

Perasso is using his campaign to speak out in defense of rail workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie, who face frame-up charges for the deadly oil train wreck that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. The 2013 disaster put a spotlight on the disregard of the bosses and government regulators for the safety of workers on the railroad and the communities near the tracks. Perasso opposes bosses’ efforts to cut train crew size and he points to the need for strong unions to enforce safer working conditions.

Perasso is active in fights to win $15 an hour and a union, to defend women’s right to choose abortion and in the struggle to free Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican independence fighter jailed in the U.S. for nearly 35 years.
Related articles:
‘Working-class alternative to brutality of capitalism’
SWP candidates say ‘Join today’s struggles
‘We need a workers party independent of capitalists’
Join in campaigning with the Socialist Workers Party!
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