Seema Singh Perez

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Seema Singh Perez


Seema Singh Perez is a Knoxville Tennessee activist. Co-founder of Sitara Electric LLC. Works at Alternative Counselling Center.

Background

Seema Singh Perez, born in Varanasi, India, became a naturalized U.S. citizen at age 13. Knoxville, Tennessee, has been home off and on for 40 years, for the last 20 of which she has worked to improve healthcare access for women, people with HIV/ AIDS, and those experiencing homelessness. She runs a jail alternative program for domestic violence offenders. Although a long-time progressive, Singh Perez did not consider herself a socialist before the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign.

“He spoke the truth in ways that I just hadn’t heard...honestly... I cried,” she says. “It suddenly struck me, I could/should be [in] government.” So she ran for city council and became one of its first two women of color. Just four months into a four year term, she counts among her early priorities housing and income inequality and increased training in the trades, particularly for women. [1]

Education

University of Tennessee Knoxville.

Knoxville City Council

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In Knoxville, socialist Seema Singh Perez became, November 7, 2017, the city’s first Indian-American council member, running a campaign focused on reducing domestic violence, ensuring jobs with liveable wages, and instituting fairer economic development.[2]

City Council Movement

In 2019, a local group is growing among downtown and near-downtown residents. The City Council Movement fielded two viable candidates two years ago, electing Seema Singh Perez to Knoxville City Council. Their candidate Amelia Parker also ran a close race as a huge write-in candidate but lost to Lauren Rider when the council chose Harry Tindell after a tie with Parker. Rider went on to defeat Tindell.

The City Council Movement is made up of volunteers who come from social justice organizations in the area and is diverse and growing more active.

“We have another strong slate of candidates running and we need your help getting them into office,” is the plea on the group’s Facebook page. “All funds raised will go towards joint get-out-the-vote materials for our three CCM-endorsed candidates,” the site proclaims.

The group is backing David Alex Hayes, Charles Al-Bawi and Amelia Parker in the upcoming city primary for council seats.[3]

DSA member

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Seema Singh Perez is a member of Knoxville Democratic Socialists of America.

DSA elected official

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) today (11/9/17) announced that its membership now includes 15 new elected officials. This is in addition to 20 elected already in offices around the United States. On Tuesday the DSA was represented in 25 elections across 13 different states. Four of those running have national endorsements from the DSA, and many others were supported by our local chapters.

Seema Singh Perez (I) City Council Third District, Knoxville TN. was on the list.

Singh Perez ran for City Council because she believes the city needs qualified people who represent the population of Knoxville. The city needs the council to reflect the genders, races and socio-economic makeup of the people. Singh is a qualified woman of color who is an immigrant and a naturalized American citizen with a background in social justice. Why does diversity matter? Not because we want to sit around a table looking like a rainbow coalition, but because the local government needs to understand the unique life experiences, challenges and struggles of its many people, not just the dominant culture. [4]

DSA Elected Officials, March 2019

From a March 6, 2019 by DSA National Electoral Committee statement "DSA Elected Officials Support Teacher Power and Working People Everywhere."

Endorsing Democratic Socialists of America members included Seema Singh Perez, Knoxville City Councilwoman.

How she won

On November 7, 2017, Democratic Socialists of America member Seema Singh Perez won a seat on the Knoxville, Tennessee City Council, the first Indian-American and DSA member to do so. She ran as an independent and defeated her opponent, James Corcoran, by over 2,000 votes even though he was backed by the local major newspaper, the Knoxville News Sentinel after he won the primary election in August 2017.

“My campaign was successful due to the volunteering energy of residents of Knoxville that have been involved with social justice work of all kinds shifting their focus to electoral politics,” Singh Perez said. “We made phone calls, we knocked on doors, we had conversations with so many people and actually listened. The ‘trick’ to our success has been that we actually care about the community and are not based on self interests. These are values that the DSA embraces.”

Singh Perez’s parents were both social workers, which inspired her to do the same in her own career. She has worked in women’s reproductive health, with HIV/AIDs patients, the homeless, and currently runs a jail alternative program for domestic violence offenders as the Program coordinator for The Batterers Intervention Program at the Alternative Counseling Center.

A first time candidate, she was inspired to run for political office by Bernie Sanders’ emphasis on social justice issues and getting regular people involved in the political process.[5]

Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing

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Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing, was a nationwide conference call organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Sunday October 30, 2016.

What's the nature of this right-wing threat? What has this election cycle changed about the political terrain we're fighting on? How do we need to prepare for whats coming after the election? Hear about these crucial questions from our panel of top political strategists, including Nelini Stamp, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Linda Burnham, and Sendolo Diaminah.

Those indicating interest in attending, on Facebook included Seema Singh Perez.[6]

References

  1. [1]
  2. [https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/11/election-day-socialists-carter-brisport-jentzen-singh-krasner-dsa Jacobin Yesterday Was a Good Day BRANKO MARCETIC 11.08.2017]
  3. [2]
  4. [ http://www.dsausa.org/15_dsa_members_elected DL 15 DSA Members Elected!, 2017 election Posted by Dsa 🌹 on 11.09.17 By Democratic Socialists of America]
  5. [3]
  6. FB Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing Went 109