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Originally published May 26, 2013 at 8:00 PM | Page modified June 6, 2013 at 10:43 AM

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Factory worker turned mayoral candidate strives for working class

Seattle mayoral candidate Mary Martin answers a few questions about her background and plans for the city.

Mary Martin

Age: 60

Occupation: Factory worker

Education: B.A., political science, Georgia State University, 1974

Home neighborhood: West Seattle

Family: Married to Edwin Fruit, City Council candidate

Hobbies: Studying the working-class history not taught in schools, fishing

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Nine candidates are vying to be Seattle mayor. Times City Hall reporter Lynn Thompson sat down recently with factory worker Mary Martin to let her introduce herself and tell voters what’s important to her. The answers have been edited for length.

Q: You are the only Socialist Workers Party candidate in the race. Can you tell us about your background and the experience you would bring to the mayor’s office?

A: I work in a popcorn factory in Kent. I’ve done seasonal work, temporary work. I worked in a meatpacking factory in the Midwest. I’ve worked in a garment factory. I bring a lifetime of being involved in working-class struggles. But most important, my campaign calls for organizing and unifying the working class to take political power out of the hands of the capitalist class.

Q: How would you balance growth with quality of life and protecting single-family neighborhoods?

A: We would fight for jobs. We would find the money to put people to work. We would demand and fight for a massive public-jobs program, paid for by the federal government, to rebuild our infrastructure — roads, schools, bridges, hospitals and community centers — that working people need. I would utilize the office of mayor to improve the conditions of working people’s lives.

There’s currently an eviction blockade in South Park organized by SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction) to prevent an ironworker from being evicted from his home. He lost his job, fell behind on mortgage payments. He’s working again, but the bank won’t accept his payments. Housing is a commodity under capitalism, but it’s a basic human need. Evictions won’t stop for millions of workers until capitalism is overturned.

Q: What would you do to ensure the Seattle Police Department had strong leadership and undertakes the work of reform?

A: I don’t think the Police Department can be reformed. It has to do with its role under capitalism. Its role is to keep workers in line. We see this at picket lines. All the police cars parked outside the factories, they’re on the side of the company against the union.

The police are not reformable. Look at all the high-profile incidents in Seattle over the last few years of deaths and brutality at the hands of the police. When people are in crisis or need medication, their families call 911. What happens? Too many times we see the cops come and shoot them. The working class is seen as the enemy.

Under a workers’ and farmers’ government, policing will be controlled by the people who live in the community. Their job will be to maintain order and protect people. The cop who shot John T. Williams was fired, but he didn’t face any trial or punishment for murder.

Q: Seattle has a $1.8 billion backlog in deferred maintenance for transportation infrastructure such as roads and bridges. That’s despite passing a $365 million levy in 2006 that was supposed to catch us up. How would you address that?

A: Transportation and other construction projects now are organized solely to make money for the bond holders, paid for by working people through taxes. We’re for mass transit, but we need to fight for a massive federally funded public-works program that pays union wages and has safety controlled by the workers.

It’s no surprise that these pork projects don’t end up helping the workers.

Q: After one of the first candidate forums, reporters described you as relentlessly serious. Do you have a sense of humor?

A: I find it so disrespectful to working people that these candidates are asked questions on the level of “What song is on your iPod.” Really? When people are really hurting? There’s a lack of connection between the candidates and the lives of working people.

Q: Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont, is probably the most successful socialist politician in the country. Have you learned anything from him?

A: We’re not reform socialists. We’re not the left wing of the Democratic Party. No other candidates except those from the Socialist Workers Party advocate the goal of working people taking political power out of the hands of the capitalist class. There won’t be a revolution because we say there will be, but because history shows us that working people will fight. We will have our chance. We will have no choice.

Lynn Thompson: lthompson@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8305. On Twitter @lthompsontimes

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