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Albany’s Socialist Workers Party Running Candidates For Mayor, Common Council President

Kathie Fitzgerald and Ved Dookhun
Jacob Perasso
Socialist Workers Party Campaign
Kathie Fitzgerald and Ved Dookhun

The Socialist Workers Party has entered two candidates for November's Albany city elections.Kathie Fitzgerald, a retail cashier, is running for Albany Common Council President, a citywide position. Fitzgerald says she was inspired by the civil rights movement as a young teen; in 1964 she joined CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, and has participated in protests against police brutality and racism.

Fitzgerald expresses concern about the common council's role pertaining to conditions faced by workers in the city.

"Specifically, I'm talking about the nurses at Albany Med. This hospital has staffing ratios that are unsafe, that they the nurses are forced to work long hours, they had terrible time with PPE during the COVID crisis. And they are still in a battle, it is unresolved. The city council and the city council president in particular, should use his or her position to mobilize support for organized workers or organizing workers within Albany or environments. That is not being done by the present city council president who actually has union connection."

Common Council President Corey Ellis is also an Upstate Political Director at New York State Nurses Association. NYSNA represents over 2,000 Albany Med nurses who have been engaged in a months-long stalemate with the hospital involving contract negotiations.

Fitzgerald criticized Ellis' proposed Public Safety Commission, unveiled Wednesday with activist Alice Green on City Hall steps, saying such a panel will do little to resolve the problems Albany faces in dealing with police.

"Dr. Green said was that this commission would get input from the community. Well, I think that changes will come from input from the community, but I struggled with, 'led by and of the community.' That is what happened during the Civil Rights Movement. And that's what I think should happen here. A movement needs to be built, working people who are Black, as well as working people who are white, need to become self-confident in themselves as workers see, that what they produce, the wealth they produce, is stolen from them together and build a movement to rectify that situation. And one of the things that we'll take up is racism. And until that time comes I don't think you'll see any change."

Ved Dookhun, a freight rail conductor, is running for mayor. Dookhun says he wants to give working people a voice in the upcoming election. He is calling for the creation of "a new type of police force" to serve, not control, city residents.

"The police force cannot be reformed. No amount of review boards can make it a gentler, nicer institution, no amount of racial sensitivity training is going to change what its role is under a class divided society, which is to maintain the rule and keep working people in line. That has always been its role. And that will continue to be its role until we are able to transform society to get rid of capitalism and build one that's based on social solidarity and transformed social relations. “

Dookhun believes the idea that there is a rise of racism in the United States is false.

"It's aimed at scapegoating Caucasian workers as somehow being inherently backward racist. And that's what's the problem. The problem is not white supremacy. The problem is capitalism as a system that's based on exploitation of labor, that uses racism to divide working people along these lines. We point to the example of the massive social movement of the civil rights, that fought for, that broke the divisions between Black and white, and dealt keen blows to attitudes and consciousness that changed. And that's still register today. You look at the size of the response and demonstrations against acts of racism, police violence, it goes across racial lines."

Dookhun will face the Democratic primary winner in November along with Independent candidate Greg Aidala, Republican candidate Alicia Purdy and write-in hopeful Marlon Anderson. Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan is seeking a third four-year term.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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