Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Socialist Workers Party candidates hope to bring alternatives to presidential race in Washington

Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Alyson Kennedy, third from left, files petition with the Secretary of State's office to be included on the ballot in Washington. Kennedy and her running mate, Malcolm Jarrett, turned in just over 2,000 signatures from Washington voters – more than the 1,000 required. Mary Martin, fourth from left, led the effort to collect signatures for Kennedy in Washington. The party's gubernatorial candidate, Henry Clay Dennison, is second from left. He was eliminated from the race in this week's primary.  (Laurel Demkovich / The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA – Washington voters will likely get to choose from more than two candidates for president after Walmart cashier Alyson Kennedy and catering cook Malcolm Jarrett, of the Socialist Workers Party, filed petitions Friday to appear on the November ballot.

Presidential candidate Kennedy, 69, and vice presidential candidate Jarrett, 50, filed just over 2,000 signatures from Washington voters with the Secretary of State’s office – more than the 1,000 required. The signatures must still be verified by the Secretary of State’s office before the candidates can appear on the ballot.

The candidates’ campaign focuses on building a labor party that represents working people.

“We are capable of changing things in this country,” Kennedy said at the petition filing.

The campaign likely joins other third party candidates on the presidential ballot in Washington, but the exact number will not be known until the ballot is certified in late August, after primary results are complete, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

Third-party presidential candidates had until Friday to submit all required documents and signatures to the Secretary of State’s office.

Kennedy, who most recently worked at a Walmart in Dallas, was the party’s candidate for president in 2016 as well as a candidate for mayor in Dallas in 2019. She worked as a coal miner for 14 years. Jarrett, who ran for Pittsburgh City Council in 2019, most recently worked as a cook for a catering company.

The campaign focuses on giving working people a voice in politics, something Kennedy said has not been the case in this country.

The party calls for a government-funded program to provide jobs to Americans repairing roads, building public transportation or rebuilding shutdown hospitals. Kennedy said this program would get more people back to work while creating better infrastructure and resources across the country.

With the working class in control, Kennedy said she believes many issues that currently exist would be eradicated. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, workers in processing plants should have been given more control to make decisions about the health and safety of their workspace, she said, adding that this could have prevented outbreaks that occurred across the country.

“That’s why we need workers in control,” Kennedy said. “It’s the only way we can assure and produce safe products.”

When it comes to reopening schools, Kennedy said teachers should be the ones in charge of making those decisions, and teachers’ unions must lead the fight.

Kennedy said her and her running mate’s background as workers make them the most qualified to lead this movement as they understand workers and their concerns.

The candidates spent the last few months protesting and showing solidarity to workers striking across the country, including fruit packing workers in Yakima Valley who were striking over concerns regarding safety and conditions during the pandemic. Kennedy was the only presidential candidate to visit Yakima Valley, according to Mary Martin, who led the signature campaign in Washington.

Kennedy and Jarrett currently appear on the ballot in Colorado and Vermont with petitions in other states to be filed in the coming weeks.

COVID-19 changed how signatures were gathered, but the number of signatures in Washington show how much people want to see someone new on their ballot, Martin said.

“We found a lot of people want to see more choices on the ballot,” she said.

People should be able to vote with their interests, Kennedy said, and having two parties doesn’t allow for that.

“This shows how restricted people feel,” Kennedy said.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.