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|Full Biography for James R. "Jim" Smith|
Jim Smith was drafted into the army in 1966. He served honorably even though he was opposed to the Vietnam war. He has been an advocate for peace and against U.S. military adventures ever since.
Upon his discharge, he settled in Venice and became active in Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He organized a chapter in Venice and became a national leader of VVAW, serving on its national steering committee.
Smith grew up in a working class family. His father was a factory worker and his mother was a housewife. They were able to own a home and provide for all the needs of their three children on one salary. Today, it's nearly impossible for a factory worker to provide for a family's immediate needs on one salary, let alone buy a home. He wants to change that.
While putting himself through college and raising a daughter, Smith worked as a shipping clerk, machinist, letter carrier, telephone installer and taxi driver. He obtained a degree in journalism, and a Masters in Sociology from Cal State, Northridge.
While working on a Ph.D. in Economics at UC, Riverside, Smith was offered a job as a union organizer by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. He was soon directing a statewide campaign to unionize all UC campuses.
Over the years, Smith organized and represented state employees, hospital workers, newspaper workers, doctors, nurses and college professors. He has been associated with a number of unions, including AFSCME, SEIU, CNA, Teamsters, CFA, and CWA. He has always stood up for the rights of workers, even when it meant putting his own job at risk.
Smith has been a rank-and-file union member, as well as being appointed to positions of director, coordinator and administrative officer on numerous occasions. He has been elected local president, vice president and secretary-treasurer, never losing a union election.
He is a founder of the L.A.-Long Beach Harbor Labor Coalition and has also served as a representative to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor for most of the past 20 years.
He's also worked as a journalist. Writing about the struggles of working people in Z Magazine, L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles View and other publications. Since 2002, Smith has been a regular writer for the Free Venice Beachhead, one of the oldest alternative newspapers in the country.
In recent years, as Democrats moved to the right and George Bush became president, Smith has become more and more frustrated with the lack of progressive political action in labor and in California, in general.
This is why he became active in reviving the Peace and Freedom Party, a democratic socialist party, which had been formed in opposition to the Vietnam war back in the 60s. In 1998, it lost its ballot status and was written off by most pundits. Smith initiated the Peace and Freedom Organizing Committee to help rebuild it and win back its ballot status. This unprecedented event was achieved in February, 2003. Smith was elected Los Angeles County Chairperson of P&F and served a two-year term. During his administration, the Party became the fourth largest in the county, with more than 35,000 members. It ranks behind only the Democrats, Republicans and the right-wing American "Independent" Party.
In 2002, he was an initiator of Venice Progressives, whose nominees have dominated Venice politics and constitute a majority of the neighborhood council. Smith was elected Treasurer, in June 2003, in a landslide election. The coalition is dedicated to expanding affordable housing and to community control of development. He is currently a member of the Venice Progressives Steering Committee.
Meanwhile, he has been active in opposing Bush's war policies and the anti-democratic Patriot Act. Smith has organized a total of 94 marches and rallies against the war since 2001.
This year, together with Pastor Tom Ziegert of the Venice United Methodist Church, Smith founded a community-based, free educatonal institution, the University of Venice. The UoV provides classes and training on a variety of subjects that can be useful to students who want to build a more cohesive community.
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Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 30, 2006 15:32
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