The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Working Class Needs Its Own Party:
The First Steps Taken

Dec 4, 2020

The American working class is not politically organized as a class, in its own name, expressing its own class interests. There is no mass party of, by, and for the working class, and there never has been—with a few, brief notable exceptions.

The first step in the political education of the working class, in its gaining consciousness of itself as a class and of its possibilities is to have its own political organization. This was true throughout the history of the working class movement in Europe in the 19th century, and in other countries ever since. This necessity was expressed clearly in the 19th century by Friedrich Engels, looking at the experience of Chartism in England and the development of the Social Democracy in Germany. Trotsky reiterated this necessity in the 20th century, when he examined the situation in the U.S., where there was no party but where the working class had engaged itself in explosive fights to create the CIO. In 1938, he argued that this first step was overdue, that the development of the class struggle showed that these new unions had already come to an impasse, and that the only way out was for the working class to organize itself politically. Here we are, almost a century later, and that first step hasn’t yet been taken.

The small forces that exist today in the left cannot pretend they have the means to bring this party into being. But it is possible to find a concrete, practical way to put the issue in front of working people.

This is what Spark did when we began working with other people to get Working Class Party on the ballot in Michigan in 2016, and then in Maryland in 2020. Our goal was to carry out electoral campaigns around the necessity for the working class to build its own political organization, based on a program of transitional demands.

Having managed to steer through the complicated requirements for obtaining ballot status, we carried out election campaigns in 2016, 2018 and 2020 in Michigan and also in 2020 in Maryland. The name on the ballot, Working Class Party, itself became a political slogan, a call for the working class to organize itself politically and to carry out a fight to do that.

What is notable is that over 40% of all our votes in Michigan came in areas where we were not able to campaign in person. This was true in all three of the elections where we took part. Some people, after finding our party name on their ballots, may have looked us up on the internet or in social media forums. For others, the words, working class party, were enough. The name spoke to them. This spot on their ballot allowed at least a small part of the working class to express their desire to have their own party.

The fact that the working class is not organized today politically, does not mean this cannot happen. It should be obvious that things could move much faster than anyone expects—that the working class even here in the United States may rush forward, not only to organize itself, but, what is essential, to carry out its historic mission to get rid of this class society, capitalist society, and build a new collective society, based on the capacities and the needs of the population.

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What follows is the 2020 program of WCP of Michigan, plus speeches from the main candidates at an October campaign rally in Michigan, as well as post-election statements from both the WCP in Maryland and the WCP in Michigan.

This material, as well as biographical information about all the candidates and speeches by all 12 of them in Michigan and one candidate in Maryland, can be found on the independent website https://workingclassfight.com.

A Working Class Program For a System Stuck in Crisis

We have been living through the spread of a deadly virus – made more deadly by the capitalist system.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people will die because the public health system was not prepared to deal with the virus – or any deadly disease.
  • For decades, every government, Democrat or Republican, raided funds from public health just like they stole funds from roads, dams, water and sewage systems, and education.
  • Every government gave that stolen money away in tax breaks, subsidies and outright gifts to a greedy capitalist class. Public money went to their private profit.
We are living through an economy in collapse – made worse because government policies let the virus get out of control.
  • Even when their economy was “expanding,” the capitalist class was slashing jobs, cutting wages, making jobs temporary, part-time or contracted out.
  • The money made in production went into bigger profits, more wealth for the top 1%, and more speculation on Wall Street.
  • The uncontrolled virus just exacerbated all the problems of an economy already in crisis.

There IS an answer to this crisis – an obvious answer

Take the money government gives away to corporations, banks and the very wealthy 1%.
  • Use it to fund all the public services, including public health and education.
  • This would create a better, more sanitary, healthier and more fulfilling society to live in.
  • It would create jobs – including all those necessary to make every workplace safe.
Take back the wealth the capitalist class steals from our labor every day.
  • Use this wealth to guarantee everyone a job – with decent wages that keep up with prices.
  • If the bosses can’t hire everyone full-time, then slow down the pace of work, reduce the hours of work for everyone – with no loss of weekly pay for anyone.

The working class can fight to make this happen

Working people are essential. We make everything run. We know how everything works. Organized together, the working class can change the world.
  • No one else will do it for us. No one will hand us jobs and wages and a healthy country. Not the Democrats, not the Republicans, not Trump, not Biden. No one else.
  • But WE have power – when we stand together as one class, ready to fight.

We need all our forces to fight

The racism spewed by our enemies works to divide us, to weaken us as a class – whether it is spewed from Wall Street or corporate offices or the State House or the White House.
  • Our whole class has come under attack.
  • But the black population has suffered particularly, through the indignities and violence of racism locked into the way the system was organized from its beginning.
  • Recognizing this reality doesn’t take anything away from anyone else.
  • Facing reality, we will bring ourselves together as one class, ready to fight for jobs and a decent life for everyone.
We won’t change our situation with an election. But we can use this election to say there are people, tens of thousands of people, who agree with this program for the crisis.

Vote November 3 for Working Class Party candidates

Gary Walkowicz: Normal Was Already a Crisis

Excerpts from Speech at October 2020 Rally, Candidate for U.S. Congress, District 12

.... Everyone is wondering when we will get past this pandemic, when things will return to normal. But “normal” before the pandemic was already a crisis for the working class. Normal was an economy increasingly offering only low-wage, temporary jobs. Normal was a society where the infrastructure was crumbling and schools weren’t given the money needed to educate our children. Normal was a health care system that didn’t keep working class people healthy—even without the virus....

We don’t know when we will be past the pandemic. But today, we see the capitalists already preparing for the “new” normal, the one they want, where the working class will be further impoverished, so that wealthy can get even richer.

The blood-sucking speculators on Wall Street are saying that they expect to keep getting even richer in the future, no matter who is elected president. Meanwhile, company after company—Disney, Allstate, Exxon, Boeing, American Airlines, United Airlines, to name just a few—recently announced layoffs for the near future. These new layoffs will be coming on top of the tens of millions of workers who still have not returned to work.

Governments at all levels are already proclaiming that due to the pandemic they will be reducing spending on public services. That means roads, bridges, water systems, schools, will further deteriorate. And that also means that many more people who are working on public service jobs will be thrown out of work....

This is the new normal that the capitalists and their government are planning for us.... But it doesn’t have to be OUR new normal. The working class can prepare and needs to prepare to bring our forces together to fight for the future that we want and need.

.... There are many millions of people without a job today, wanting to work. The bosses say that there is not enough work for everybody, fine, we can divide up the work, put the workloads back the way they used to be, or even less, so the jobs are reasonable. If the bosses say they still don’t need everybody, OK, everybody can work fewer hours per week to produce the things needed. And if the bosses say less hours means less pay, we say NO, pay everyone a full living wage every week, which would be equivalent to what we make in 40 hours, plus all the overtime they used to schedule us for.

When the bosses say the money is not there, we say YES, it is there. Take it from the capitalists’ profits and from all the profits our labor has produced in the past.

These profits and wealth could also be used to make sure that our wages don’t fall behind prices. When inflation goes up, our wages should go up.

.... Take back the tax money stolen from public services. Restore public services. That would put people back to work. Hire the teachers, the maintenance people, the bus drivers, the counselors to run the schools safely. Hire the construction workers to build more schools. The same thing with fixing the roads, bridges, getting everyone clean water and good sewer systems. Hire all the workers needed to build and maintain this infrastructure.

.... It could be done. The money is already there. But it is going to take a fight to get a hold of that money.

To make that fight we must stand together as one class, to have all our forces together, to not be divided.

This is important, we can’t let ourselves be divided by racism.... Racism is part and parcel of the capitalist system. The capitalists exploit the whole working class, and the black population has always been the most exploited part of the working class. But black workers have also led the kind of fights that the working class needs to make to really change things.

When we refuse to be divided, when we stand together, the working class can make the kind of fight that can change the whole society. No politicians or anyone else will do it for us. Only the working class has the power to make a better future for everyone.

Mary Anne Hering: It’s Vital that Working Class Party Is on the Ballot

Excerpts from Speech at October 2020 Rally, Candidate for State Board of Education

.... We are told, we have the right to vote. But what does it matter if we don’t have someone who speaks for us, who addresses the real problems the laboring population faces? We are told, vote as if your life depends on it. But what does it mean when the only choice is between two big parties, both of whom, at the end of the day, defend this very system that rests on the exploitation of labor? What have these two parties brought us?

.... Both parties carried out huge cutbacks on the public health system. And we need to say that—to tell the truth about this health care system—that it is based on profit, and is responsible for the huge toll that the coronavirus has taken on the population and disproportionately on working people.

Today, the working class is caught in a severe economic crisis, where tens of millions are unemployed, and there are more to come. This crisis is related to how both parties in this government have served a wealthy class that has received billions in subsidies, gifts to big corporations and big banks, financial and real estate speculators. And we need to say that.

We live in a deeply racist system, one that since its beginning, was built on slavery.... Almost every political administration, no matter Democrat or Republican, has continued to reinforce this system, including passing all those repressive laws which created the pipeline to prison, and which have been enforced unequally. And we need to say that.

For decades both of these parties have starved our children’s schools, starved roads and bridges, starved workers’ neighborhoods, starved public transit, for money. For decades, the wealthy have increased their stash, accumulating what the two big parties squeezed from us in taxes. And we need to say that.

Workers are essential. Workers do make everything run and know how everything works. We are the only ones who are saying this. Our program says working people have the power, when we stand together as one class, ready to fight. The only way forward for the working class to defend itself, is to make a fight.

When you vote for Working Class Party, you’re voting for those ideas. You’re not voting for one or two people to get into office. You’re voting to show that there are people who agree that the working class has the power, when it is organized, to solve the problems we face, and that it can build a decent society for everyone.

It’s not only important that Working Class Party is on the ballot in Michigan, it is also vital that Working Class Party stays on the ballot. The vote that will keep us on the ballot is for our candidates for State Board of Education.

Andrea L. Kirby: Standing for Something Real

Excerpts from Speech at October 2020 Rally, Candidate for U.S. Congress District 9

.... Not one of our candidates grew up thinking about the day they would run for political office. But here we are. The working class has been quiet for too long in this country and because of that silence, the race to bottom is getting faster and faster.

We are not here as individual candidates but together for a common message. The Working Class Party actually stands for something. We are a group of candidates that are from so many different backgrounds and upbringing. And to me mostly importantly Race.

I was driving home with my 16-year-old daughter the other day. And there was a rally near my home. I told her before we got there just so she wasn’t too surprised. She said something to me that really stuck with me and made me realize how important the Working Class Party was for the future. She said “Mom, it’s scary because all those people are voting for Trump. People voting for Biden just don’t want Trump in office.” Wow. How often do we really have a chance to say we really want this person to represent ME, that they know and understand my issues? Even when we do, we are still stuck fighting a system that thrives on the oppression and control of the working class.

I think it is very important for my children to see someone that looks like them stand up for them and what matters to them. For our Black and Brown friends and family to see that WE can stand up just like our ancestors did, to take control of our futures and fight for what we know is right. To be able to stand with others who don’t look like you, because division makes us weak. Let me tell you, being poor don’t care what you look like.

The candidates of the Working Class Party, with all of our differences realize we have more in common than different. We are tired of being the wealth creators that don’t see the benefits of that wealth. Tired of waiting for legislation to provide the basic needs of life. Clean water, air, food. Don’t be fooled though, neither this election nor the next will provide what the working class needs to make permanent change for equality (racial, economic, sexual, and so on). Those changes will come when the working class demands the coffers be opened and we are able to fund and organize the society to fit our needs....

Who would have thought in 2020 I would be talking to my children about lynching, not as a part of history but as part of their everyday. Explaining to them what it means to drive while black. And how to act in the presence of a police officer. These are the same concerns our ancestors fought and died to get rid of. But here we are today, suffering the same challenges and issues our ancestors suffered from.

Not addressing the issues of the working class as a whole will keep us divided and acting like crabs in a bucket.... In the end with this capitalist system, the corporations are the only ones that win. The working class ends focused on the crumbs on the floor when there is a whole pie up on the table.

Please remember it is not the election that will change our society. Only when the forces of the working class are pulled together, will we see the change that everyone says they want. Your vote for Working Class Party candidates will show the world that we want something different. But your actions will be what makes the Working Class Party a success.

Kathy Goodwin: Our Candidates Are from the Working Class

Excerpts from Speech at October 2020 Rally, Candidate for U.S. Congress District 5

.... Every election season, the Democrats and the Republicans pretend to care about working people. They want our vote to legitimize their horrible leadership.

In Congress right now, there are 436 members. A wealth study by the Center for Responsive Politics found 279 of them are millionaires. I find it hilarious that this many rich people are pretending to speak for ordinary working people!

Our 2020 candidates, like the majority of people in this country, are working class. Our candidates have held multiple jobs. Our candidates started working early—in their teens. As 2020 candidates we have auto workers, teachers, restaurant/kitchen/hotel workers, healthcare workers, an insurance worker, a construction worker, a maintenance worker, a student, and a retired state worker—just to name a few of the jobs our candidates have held during their lifetime. Our candidates, like our working class community, do valuable unpaid work, taking care of their community, taking care of family—which includes raising children or caring for family members who are ill. In 2020 caring for family now includes becoming a teacher’s aide as students learn from home....

Disdain for people who have less formal education is a disgusting prejudice in this society. It is a putrid prejudice that needs to be called out just like racism and sexism. This prejudice is one of the ways that those with billions of dollars pretend they got their obscene wealth because of “merit.” “Merit” is like a magic wand billionaires like to wave over their piles of money to pretend they “earned it,” instead of admitting they used exploitation to “steal it.”

Yes, education is important. It should be free and easy to obtain for all. All types of education and training. My idea of intelligence—the intelligence that I value—is not based on a piece of paper. It is all the knowledge that it takes to make the work flow correctly on the front lines. It is the construction intelligence it takes to create and build something new. It is the mechanical intelligence it takes to fix what is broken. It is the physical agility, engineering intelligence and logic it takes to build a vehicle. It is the medical intelligence it takes to care for the sick. It is all the unique abilities it takes to be a teacher. It is the mathematical intelligence it takes to follow the money. It is the social intelligence it takes to plan a fun party. It is the emotional intelligence it takes to make wise decisions. It is the artistic and musical intelligence it takes to create beauty. It is the tactical intelligence it takes to protect others. It is the organizational intelligence it takes to bring the working class together to fight.

It is all the ability and all the experience it takes to do all the jobs that our candidates represent and for all the functioning of society to happen that the working class makes possible....

I am here to say workers will have to make a new party to fight for what we all need. We have to change ourselves so that we become the leaders that the working class needs. We have to become the fighters that our class needs.

Sam Johnson: We Can Stop this Violence

Speech from Meeting, August 2019, Candidate for Congress District 13

Well, those violent attacks the brother was talking about, I’ve been through some of that, I know what it will take to stop it. Working people have to come together to stop it.

We have to stand up and bring our forces together. The police, troops, all that, they’re part of the working class. When we fight, we can bring them together with us. We can bring those forces they use to protect them, we can bring them with us.

We can stop those right-wing maniacs from shooting at us. I know what happened with the KKK. They were in Alabama when I grew up. My family had a problem with them. My auntie had a juke box, people came over to listen to it, have a drink. The KKK told her to get rid of it. She said, it’s not going to happen. They told her, when we come back that better be out of there. When they came back, my family was organized—family and friends around the family. They were organized in a two-block area around my auntie’s house, waiting on the KKK to come back. My family was there with their rifles and their shotguns. But the KKK had got the message what was waiting for them. Unh, un, no, they didn’t come.

I’ve known about those fights. I know it will take a fight again. In California, I was there in ‘65 in the rebellion. Two years later, I came here, I was here only two months, and Detroit blew up. I was living right there, in the area where it started, we were living right there, my nephews are still living there. I saw what people did, how the cops backed off.

That’s what we have to understand about those people shooting at us. We’ve got the forces to stop that. They’re not going to want to come close to us, when we’re organized.

But now, some people are just sitting back waiting for some politician, some Democrat to do something about this violence. Get rid of Trump they say. Yes, get rid of Trump, but then what? They say put a Democrat in office. But what’s going to happen? The Democrats are going to have the same old policy they had before. And we’re going to have the same problems we have now and worse.

If we understand all that, then we understand that when we come together, we can stop all the problems we’re having today. We’ve got the power and the forces that can do that. We can do that. We can take back everything they’re taking from us. That’s what I know, we have the power to do that.

We have to understand where the problems come from. They come from that capitalist class that wants to keep raising their profits, put their profits before our lives.

Well, how did we get what we have today? No one gave it to us. Workers really fought against the companies. That’s how we got what we’ve got, jobs, pensions, medical care. It’s how we got schools for our kids.

So if we know problems come from what the capitalist class is doing, we’ll know what we have to do—stop waiting for the politicians that run this government to help us. That’s their politicians, the capitalist class politicians. The president runs it for what the capitalists need, to push their profits up.

Most times, workers today say there’s nothing we can do. But there is something we can do, we are the majority of the population. We are the ones who make this whole country run, but we make it run for what the capitalists want. We can see that it ain’t right, and we’ve got the forces to stop it. But we’ve got to bring our forces together.

Myself, I came up in the auto plants in the ‘70s. We were able to bring different groups together, black, white, Yugoslav, Albanian, Arab, Polish. That division they created among us, we could get past that. When we did, we didn’t stop everything, but we backed the bosses up.

I’ve been around quite a while, I may have slowed down somewhat, but in my mind, I know what it takes.

That’s why I talk to young people. Once, they get it, if they talk to other young people they can deal with it. They’re faster than me. and I know they’ll fight. They fight all the time now, in neighborhoods just about all over the country. But they don’t know what to fight for. They’re fighting each other, killing each other, putting up gangs to fight each other. But those gangs can come together. We’ve got to come together. We can stop all this. But we’ve got to come together. That’s what it will take. To deal with the real problems. Once we do that. We can stop it from happening again.

We’ve got the forces to protect ourselves, to stop the violence from happening. Once we get the bigger picture, we’ll know what we can do. We don’t need to worry about what’s going to happen. The ones causing the problems for us, they’re going to worry about what’s going to happen to them. But we’ve got to stand up and fight. That’s what we have to do, we definitely have to fight.

That’s what I want the younger people to understand what’s happening. Once they get the bigger picture, they can spread it. And that’s what it’s going to take, the next generation, two or three generations after me. Coming together. Let’s do it.

Are you tired of it and don’t want all this violence? Don’t want it to happen? If you understand why it’s happening, let’s do it. Let’s get together. Let’s do it NOW!

Philip Kolody: Working Class Party Is About the Future

Speech at October 2020 Rally, Candidate for U.S. Congress, District 14

The Working Class Party is about the future. But workers need to remember their own history to have a winning strategy. That history shows workers fighting with determination against their exploitation under capitalism.

In the late 19th century, railroad workers carried on a massive strike. They were defeated by the power of the railroad companies, supported by the U.S. government. But many of them flooded into the Socialist Party. By 1920, it had gained over a million votes when Eugene Debs ran for president. The party was attacked during the Red Scare by the U.S. government which feared the revolution in Russia would spread here.

The next big period of struggle came during the 1930s when transport workers in Minneapolis, carried on a general strike against the transfer companies; dockworkers on the West Coast carried out a general strike against the shipping companies; and auto workers in Flint occupied the factories of GM in a strike that brought other workers out to join them.

These strikes forced some big concessions, and gave workers certain union rights. But after the Second World War, the attack on unions began again with another Red Scare.

All of these struggles were incomplete because those leading them, and maybe the workers themselves were willing to make compromises, thinking they couldn’t go any further and believing they had won permanent protections. Instead, after the compromises were made, the government carried out big attacks both on the unions and on the workers’ standard of living. Since then, workers have lost more rights and the exploitation of workers intensified.

The Working Class Party believes the goal for the working class should be to take power in this society and reconstruct this society. Anything less will mean piecemeal reforms and no permanent improvement. The Working Class Party says that workers must remember the fights that their grandmothers and grandfathers and fathers and mothers made. The Working Class Party says we must fight now, so our children and grandchildren will not have to make the same fight.

Someone once wrote, history may not always repeat itself, but it may rhyme. We have to make sure not to repeat and be sure to find our own rhyme.

Post-Election Statement from Working Class Party of Maryland

The following statement was issued by the Working Class Party of Maryland after the 2020 election. This statement and other information about this party can be found on the independent website, https://workingclassfight.com.

David Harding, candidate of the Working Class Party of Maryland, got 3,973 votes for mayor of Baltimore City. This was about 1.7% of the votes cast for mayor.

This was an encouraging vote, given the difficulties of campaigning during the pandemic—which was doubly so for a new party, just starting to sink in its roots. Despite the difficulties, we had a bunch of dedicated volunteers who found the way to discuss our new party with quite a few people.

If we did the work to start this party, including collecting 14,000 signatures, it’s because there is not and has not been any party on the ballot that represents the interests of working people, no party that claims allegiance to the working class.

The almost 4,000 votes we got in this first campaign shows that there are people in the city of Baltimore who agree with the basic ideas of our campaign, which are that the working class needs to fight for its own interests and build its own party.

What’s next for Working Class Party of Maryland? In the state of Maryland, election law requires us, over the next four year period to run, first for governor, then for president, and get at least one percent of the highest vote for each position. This is the only way for a new party to stay on the ballot. It certainly is a testimony to the desire of the capitalist class that runs this society to be able to dominate the political scene, without any opposition.

In any case, we will be ready to present a candidate for these top spots in both 2022 and 2024, and we are already planning how to start the work to do it.

We would love to hear from anyone who agrees with these ideas AND is ready to work to put Working Class Party forward. You can write us at Working Class Party Md., P.O. Box 7152, Baltimore, MD 21218 or email us at: workingclasspartymd@gmail.com.

Post Election Statement from the Working Class Party of Michigan

The following statement was issued by the Working Class Party of Michigan. This statement and other information about WCP can be found on the independent website, https://workingclassfight.com.

In the midst of an election campaign presented by the two big parties as a do-or-die contest, the Working Class Party effectively maintained our base, built up since 2016, when Working Class Party first made it on to the ballot in Michigan.

This election took place in the middle of a pandemic created not only by the virus, but also by the actions of the two big parties, which both have drastically cut funding for public health, leading to tens of thousands of deaths that should not have happened. The campaign was carried out in the middle of an economy in collapse caused by the actions of the capitalist class to increase its profits by driving down the standard of living of the population, and by the actions of state and city governments to cut jobs in public services so public money could be diverted to that same capitalist class. And it was carried out even as police continue to act as an invading army in popular areas, particularly in areas where black people live, or where young people congregate.

Neither party has an answer to these crises because each of them, in their own way, support the right of the capitalist class to run the economy, to drain wealth out of it, and to use the violence of the state in support of this outright robbery.

Having no real answer to any of these crises, having carried out no policies that could improve the lives of the population, both parties made the election turn around the person of Trump. Are you for or against him?

Working people do not need any saviors to act in their defense—neither Trump, nor those who want to replace Trump. Working people can defend themselves.

We believe that the working class, based on its position in the very midst of the productive economy, can carry out a fight for its own needs and interests. Working people have the intelligence, the knowledge and the experience of working collectively which comes from producing the goods and services the whole society needs. Resting on this intelligence, knowledge, skills, and capacity to organize, they will in the future organize society to serve the whole population. And we are convinced that its most class conscious members will work to overcome the divisions that its enemies push to splinter the working class.

This is what the Working Class Party stands for. This is what the Working Class Party candidates said as they campaigned this year, even while they were prevented from circulating widely by the restrictions tied to the pandemic.

We know that elections will not change our fate. But we have confidence in the capacity of the working class to organize and fight.

The fact that a fraction of the working population continued to give their votes to Working Class Party in the midst of this situation shows that there are thousands of people who want to see the working class build its own organizations and carry out the fights that need to be had.

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The following are the results of the 2020 votes for the 12 candidates put forward by Working Class Party (Michigan) in 2020.

For State Board of Education, a state-wide contest: Mary Anne Hering, 147,345 votes, 1.46%; and Hali McEachern, 82,700 votes, 0.82%.

For U.S. Congress: District 5, Kathy Goodwin, 8,180 votes, 2.27%; District 9, Andrea Kirby, 8,970 votes, 2.25%; District 12, Gary Walkowicz, 11,147; 2.90%; District 13, Sam Johnson, 5,284 votes, 1.85%; and District 14, Philip Kolody, 2,534 votes, 0.74%.

For State House: District 4, Linda Rayburn, 1,023 votes, 3.37%; District 7, Kimberly Givens, 1,224 votes, 3.51%; District 14, Simone R. Coleman 1,937 votes, 4.75%; District 15, Larry Darnell Betts, 970 votes, 2.41%; and District 75, Louis Palus, 1,234 votes, 3.03%.