Gloria La Riva, the Peace and Freedom Party’s candidate for governor of California, visited San Diego on Feb. 24. Her second stop to San Diego in three days, La Riva held a forum at the San Diego Justice Center to discuss her campaign and learn about local concerns. Dozens of people attended, and the audience represented the diversity of struggles and industries that exist in San Diego County: students from community colleges and universities, unemployed and homeless members of the community as well as organizers from the Party for Socialism & Liberation, Industrial Workers of the World, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Automobile Workers, and the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism).
Understanding the crises particularly important to the area, Gloria La Riva’s talk emphasized housing insecurity, labor rights, and the failure of the two-party system. With over half a million homeless people in the United States, solutions to the issue of housing are more important than ever. La Riva’s campaign promises to prioritize shelter over profit and to work toward ending laws like the Ellis Act and the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act — two California laws associated strongly with the state’s housing crisis.
On the topic of labor rights, La Riva highlighted the extraction of prison labor and the impact of union organizing. Her insight into mass incarceration brought focus to ongoing struggles in California prisons, particularly the use of solitary confinement (SHU) and the low wages paid to prisoners for their labor. She illustrated the effects of California voting laws that discourage the growth of alternative parties, noting that the Top Two Primaries Act has been a hurdle to the visibility of her own party. La Riva called on members of the community to organize against the domination of the established two-party system by registering for alternative parties and voting “down-ballot” even if they vote for a gubernatorial candidate from a main party.
La Riva also asked students to demand accountability and transparency by asking their colleges and universities to host debates for all candidates running for office. La Riva stressed that her party believes change is affected not just by individual candidates such as herself, but by mass people’s movements.
For all of Gloria La Riva’s achievements and aims, much of Saturday’s discussion focused on the local community’s needs and concerns. She heard from each person in attendance and learned of the struggles of their industries. From students to electrical workers to tech professionals, every concern was addressed. She observed that “capitalism cannot solve its crisis” and that socialism, with its history of labor movements and civil rights successes, is the answer to these problems in California.
The Peace and Freedom Party was established in 1967, during a time when people were particularly disillusioned by the two parties available to them. PFP has represented the working class for decades, and Gloria La Riva, as their candidate for California governor, intends to continue this representation. To learn more about the party and to register to vote, visit www.peaceandfreedom.org. Video of Gloria la Riva’s speech can be found here.