This was originally published in Partisan issue no. 26, printed September 2008.
Long-time rank-and-file activist and sometime officer in SEIU, Linda "LR" Roberts worked for the State Teachers Retirement System from 1983 to 2000. She is in the Federation of Retired Union Members, and is often at meetings of school boards, city councils, the Board of Supervisors, and the state legislature. A founding member of the SEIU Lavender Caucus (LGBT) twenty years ago, she devotes considerable energy to senior causes, defense of civil liberties and peace, and organic gardening. Having given birth to two children, she raised three more as well.
Doris Matsui, a Democrat currently representing this district, voted repeatedly to fund the Iraq War. She refused to stand against torture or to defend our rights under habeas corpus. She also stood with Nancy Pelosi and refused to support the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. Linda engaged in citizen lobbying in an attempt to educate Matsui on these important issues. She went to see her, wrote letters, and sent e-mails. She got responses, but little satisfaction.
"What is she afraid of?" Linda asked. "Matsui represents a safe Democratic district. She could have defended our liberties, and opposed these brutal wars, with no political consequences Why not show some guts?" At the urging of friends, Linda decided to challenge the seat.
"There are periods in history when you have to show courage," says Linda Roberts. "This is one of those times." In addition to the wars, and civil liberties, she would push for a single-payer national health plan. "I was an Air Force brat, raised on bases around the country and the world. I had socialized medicine growing up. It was a good idea then, and it's a good idea now for everybody."