How will you pay for that?
I want our community to have resources for environmental restoration, better wages for all, social services, and mental and physical healthcare, including services for drug-users and people suffering from addiction. That can sound like a lot, and, especially given that Athens is the poorest county in Ohio, I know that for every initiative we propose, I will need to answer the question of how we will pay for it.
However, while Athens County is the poorest county in Ohio, it is also one of the most unequal. That means that resources do exist here that can be put to better use.
That’s why, sometimes, like when we demand more resources for code enforcement to protect tenants from slumlords, we can build in mechanisms to pay for the policy relatively easily. In this case, it’s about fining slumlords more for violations and chipping away at the profits they make at the expense of tenants’ living conditions. Similarly, when we talk about higher wages for private-sector workers, it just means less profits for the bosses exploiting them.
But other times, like when we talk about higher wages for municipal workers or working with community partners toward a clean injection site, we either need to come up with new resources or take resources away from someplace else. Part of that will involve all of us fighting for higher income and property taxes on the rich. City council can’t actually raise those taxes though, so all of us will need to fight together to pressure authorities at the county-level to do so.
What city council can do, though, is take resources away from portions of the city budget which are demonstrably ineffective, like the police budget, and transition those resources toward evidence-based initiatives that will keep us safer by improving local living conditions for the working class and oppressed.
Can city council do that?
Occasionally, the answer is yes. City council can pretty feasibly expand composting in Athens through community partnerships, for instance.
Likewise, most of the concrete policies we propose can technically be achieved by the city council, like Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions against Israel and working to reallocate resources towards care that are currently used on criminalization. However, I don’t believe we will actually be able to achieve those policy demands through city council alone. Instead, I think that workers and oppressed people will need to organize collectively to leave the relevant authorities (whether City Council members, county government officials, or unelected and unaccountable forces like businesses) with little choice but to heed to our demands.
If elected, I will be a voice on city council, with the weight of my organization behind me, which can support those mobilizations of workers and the oppressed -- and hopefully help to get some good reforms passed along the way.
You say you’re a socialist – do you mean like Sweden, or more like Cuba?
Actually neither. I stand in the tradition of ‘socialism from below.’ This means that, to me, socialism is about the fullest expansion of democracy into every realm -- including the workplace and the economy at large.
That sort of radical democracy cannot be achieved through this or that policy, let alone through some sort of dictatorial regime. Instead, socialism can only be achieved by workers and oppressed people standing together and building that radical democracy themselves -- through militant labor unions, for example.