James Harris is a meat packer at Farmer John. He has been a longtime union activist who has supported strikes and organized efforts by workers for years.
He was also the Socialist Workers Party candidate for President of the United States in 1996 and 2000.
Daily Bruin: Why are you running for mayor?
James Harris: I’m running for mayor because of the need for working people to take power.
We are in a really bad economic and social crisis that is at least as bad as the one in the 1930s, and it’s just getting started.
We need people in politics to think outside the box and consider the interests of all people. Right now no one in politics is talking about ways to advance the interest of working people.
This needs to be changed.
Working people can’t live off of investments. They don’t own companies. We are people that work for a living.
This is a class-divided society. The working class produces the wealth that society utilizes.
In politics there is not going to be any real change unless working people organize and start a movement in favor of their interests, take away the control of politics from the wealthy and work to fight for justice.
DB: What are the most important issues facing Los Angeles right now and how will you address them?
JH: Unemployment is a major issue.
People are losing their jobs on a massive scale.
A public works program is needed to employ workers at union scale wages.
There is not a lack of work to be done but capitalists won’t be involved in anything that won’t make them a profit.
Immigrant workers should not be forced to leave their jobs and be deported. I believe in immediate legalization of undocumented workers.
I also want to prosecute cops who have killed unarmed people including Christian Portillo, who was shot by Los Angeles County sheriffs when he was unarmed in his parked car outside his house.
Change only comes about when there are movements like the civil rights and anti-war movements.
The issues facing people in Los Angeles are the same people are facing both nationally and internationally. I want to go to the people who are struggling and help them strengthen unions and build up the labor party.
This is how the movement will begin.
I want to use the power of my office to unify working people.
DB: How has Villaraigosa addressed or not addressed these problems?
JH: He has not addressed them at all. He helps the rich but not the working people.
DB: From where have you received funding, and how has this affected your campaign?
JH: I receive funding from people who make small donations.
It is all based on what working people can give. This is what happens when you are not part of a rich political party like the Democrats or Republicans.
DB: What experience in your track record can you point to that suggests you have the leadership skills and understanding of issues necessary to be an effective mayor?
JH: I was a part of civil rights, anti-war and union movements so I have the ability to talk about these issues. And I am a worker myself; I am part of the labor in this country. I know the problems affecting working people because I am one.