2019 Chapter Convention Candidate Statements

Co-chair:

Trey D:
Over the last several years, I believe we’ve witnessed a genuinely rare moment: for the first time in decades, we have the chance to truly build a unified, durable and powerful workers’ movement in New Orleans and nationwide. Generations of stagnant wages, the Great Recession, and the endless fiasco that is our political system have swept underfoot generations of old lies about socialism (and a lot of other lies besides). As a result, our organization has grown from a tiny sect to the largest anticapitalist organization in the country in at least 50 years.
I am running for co-chair because I believe our chapter, and DSA at large, now faces a profound and crucial question: what comes next? How do we turn this moment into a durable, powerful and multiracial workers’ organization?
I believe we must prioritize, above all, both sustained membership growth and democratic durability. Growth that will continue regardless of who is in office or what happens on election day; growth which actively and tirelessly reaches beyond the heavily white demographics of our current membership. Democratic durability that is built on creating opportunities for involvement in our movement beyond committee-centered, single-issue organizing; durability that is founded on making democratic self-organization a part of the fabric of working peoples’ lives.
I hope that some of my work over the last fifteen months as membership chair, such as creating the chapter Mobilizers Program to ensure every person expressing interest in our chapter is connected with an established member, leading development on the chapter website, and co-authoring the Collective Power Network’s Regional Representation plank, has contributed to beginning to address these goals. But as a chapter, I feel we must deepen our commitment to them, and if elected to co-chair, doing so will be my priority.

Michael E:

I’m Michael (she/her). I’m a restaurant worker and student who got my start in organizing as a rank-and-file labor activist, and later as an organizer for United Labor Unions, working primarily with school custodians. I’ve served as co-chair of New Orleans DSA for the past year, working on new member onboarding, navigating our coalition work in the Three Point Platform campaign, and helping to lead our chapter program process. For us to stand a chance in the struggle against the rich power players who run our state, and win working class victories that materially change peoples lives, we have to build our chapter. We’ve got to pair campaign activity with strong systems for growth & member development.

If elected to a second term as co-chair I’ll work to

  • Collaborate with the Labor Committee to build working class power through support for organizing in major industries
  • Team up with the Membership Chair and Mobilizers to implement a strategy for growth – one that emphasizes reaching and building trust with working class communities of color and working class women
  • Create tools to help incorporate political education and organizer training into all of our activity
  • Help guide our work in coalition with membership based organizations and working class communities whose priorities align with our own, especially on key issues like education, healthcare, labor and environment

Jordan F:

We are at a rare moment for the socialist movement. We’ve continued to grow through ongoing political crises because more and more people believe that we are going to win. Our role as organizers is to show people that we will win. We do this when we create material changes for our neighbors and coworkers. And we make these changes by building real power. We must always be thinking about our work in relation to how it builds power, and as co-chair I’ll continue to challenge the membership and chapter leadership to think in these terms.
I’ll do this by focusing my efforts on a small set of concrete goals:

  • Pushing the chapter to do more outward-facing events and outreach to build trust in our work and make it visible to our neighbors.
  • Creating and supporting an internal body focused on onboarding and welcoming new members.
  • Creating and supporting the Growth & Diversity Working Group to organize our neighborhoods beyond specific issue areas.
  • Developing a Leadership Development strategy. To identify informal leaders, create a succession plan for elected leadership, and create tools and trainings.
  • Centering political development and education in all our work.

Read Jordan’s full Statement


At-Large Council Member:

Zack D:

A year before joining the New Orleans Democratic Socialists of America, I read news articles on the internet and felt hopeless about the world’s situation. Shortly over a year later the issues seem no less dire, but I know that there’s a group of dedicated people that are fighting for a more equitable world. I want to expand our chapter’ base to include all of our working class allies, who may feel as powerless as I did. I also want to listen and learn from our chapter members, many of whom have ideas that can bring a more just world to fruition.

Sophie K:
No short statement.

Cate R:
I am Cate Root and I organize with New Orleans DSA because the members of this chapter have convinced me that we can win. Of all the beliefs we share — in justice, democracy, and kindness — that we can do something is what unites us. Lots of people share our politics, but they don’t think we can win. And we can change that. I believe that within the next year, we can double our active membership. If elected, I will propose that a new Welcoming Committee coordinate recruitment and onboarding, social planning, and accessibility (including child watch, meal preparation, and transportation).

I believe in leadership development through structure, such as creating “membership trustee” positions to maintain security of member data while creating for a smoother, centralized process for contacting new organizers. I believe in the members of this chapter. I believe that we can build a bigger and better organization here in New Orleans.


Membership Chair:

Logan Y:

I’m Logan (they/he), and for the last year I’ve been active in the mobilizers program and the Socialist Feminist Caucus. From running mobilizer cycles to organizing clinic escort trainings, I’m excited to bring new folks in and find ways we can help each other. I’m running for membership chair to structurally strengthen that work, to internally organize our growth towards a mass organization full of leaders. Specifically, that’s already happening in a few projects taking shape: organizing from within our neighborhoods, unifying a set of mobilizing tools with welcoming and welfare work, and improving the processes that maintain our community agreements. These will expand our concerns beyond the chapter, activate our members around chapter priorities, and help us struggle together through conflict safely. Beyond maintaining and cutting lists, I’ll take on this work as membership chair to set up multiple paths for our members to build their agency.


Secretary:

Ryan S:

I’ve been an active member in our chapter since August 2018. I’ve changed brake lights, helped execute last fall’s Statewide Summit, talked to people about their medical debt at our health fairs, and contributed writing and graphic design to our Communications Committee’s projects. As Secretary I’ll prioritize communicating our chapter’s decisions and actions to the membership in an equitable and accessible way. We are at a crucial point in our chapter’s growth where the people who helped build this chapter may not be as available to provide background and context to us, so we need good records. I want to provide summaries of our chapter’s decisions that give members a better way to keep up with our work and begin an archive of significant documents that chart our chapter’s history and growth. I will always look for ways to motivate democracy, transparency, and feedback through all aspects of our Local Council’s work.


Treasurer:

Alli D:
I’m Alli DeJong and I’m running for treasurer. Many of you know me, as I’ve been a member and leader in our chapter since the beginning. Our chapter is experiencing growing pains, and I can provide the support and stability to ensure that our chapter is an effective steward of resources that help us grow our organizing capacity.

Treasurer is not an exciting or sexy position, but it’s super important. We need to maintain compliance with our bylaws as well as with national governance documents. We have a lot of work to do to institutionalize policies and procedures that will keep our hard-earned dues money safe from misappropriation. The treasurer will have to lead the finance committee, develop and implement these policies, and work with each committee individually to make sure that they are planning, budgeting, and accounting for the funds they need to do their work. I also believe that the treasurer should lead a chapter-wide budgeting process, starting with the committees, and then coordinate chapter-wide fundraising pushes to raise the appropriate amount of funds for the year to accomplish our goals.

I’m the right person to do this because these are my skills, and I’m excited about this work. I have an MBA and professional experience coaching and supporting nonprofit organizations. I wrote our chapter’s bylaws, wrote the bylaw revisions to strengthen our financial controls, and have been serving as a treasurer trustee since January. If elected as Treasurer, I will not only keep our funds safe and transparent, but I will move our chapter to a budgeting and accounting system that will be a model for other growing chapters. We will learn and grow together as we develop budgets that show where and how we want to grow, and then we’ll raise money together to meet the need. Members will be reimbursed on time, and processes will be clear, documented, and replicable. Every dollar will be accounted for and every member will be able to access reports on the current financial state of our chapter.

Steve P:

Nobody joins the revolution to do the bookkeeping. What brought each of us to socialism were injustices that made us incandescent with passion and righteous anger, not the prospect of balancing spreadsheets. However, as we mature into a movement truly of the working class, we will need to grow into new strengths and capacities, indeed as many of us are doing every day in this chapter. Not least of these is managing our collective financial resources according to our socialist ideals, such as democracy and transparency.

I think the position of Treasurer has two sides. One side is being the person that prepares spreadsheets and reimburses people. The other is about being a part of a democratic effort to chart a shared future. This chapter needs to design and implement a participatory budgeting process that teaches self-governance. We need to raise funds as a collective, not as committees and caucuses competing over a limited donor base. We need to institutionalize knowledge so members aren’t continually reinventing the wheel. I want to have a hand in helping our chapter achieve all this. I hope you will consider voting for me and this vision of what we can build together.


Delegates:

Trey D:

I am running for delegate because I believe what is decided at this convention will have a profound impact both on our work here in New Orleans, and on the long-term health of our  organization nationwide. In talking to members of other chapters both as a chapter delegate to the recent Dallas and Atlanta regional DSA conferences, and as a charter member of the Collective Power Network (CPN), it’s become clear to me that urgent structural reform is needed if DSA is to continue to grow and build power.

DSA’s current national structure, which above the chapter level consists only of the 16-member National Political Committee and a small paid staff, has become increasingly more untenable as the organization has grown. Chapters large and small remain isolated and unable to effectively share resources, knowledge or workloads.

Climate-threatened chapters along the Gulf like ours need formal venues to share expertise and develop strategies for disaster relief; chapters along the border need venues to coordinate resistance to ever-escalating ICE raids; new and emerging chapters need venues to call on the resources or experience of larger ones. And all chapters lack a formal way to bring issues, projects, or requests to regional or national attention within DSA.

I co-authored the CPN Regional Representation Program to begin addressing these issues, by outlining a path to ensure representation for every chapter in a DSA Regional Organization by August 2020. CPN’s other planks address a number of concrete and much-needed reforms, which I have had the opportunity to help advocate for as a member of CPN’s Communications Team. If elected delegate, I will work to pass these reforms, and strongly support any other measures focused on deepening DSA’s commitment to democracy, diversity, and  uncompromising radicalism.

Alli D:

I’m Alli DeJong and I am running to be a delegate to the national DSA convention in Atlanta. I would be honored to represent this chapter again at the national level after also being a delegate in 2017. Delegates have two key responsibilities: voting on political resolutions and electing the next NPC. I am a member of Collective Power Network (CPN) and, like many others in our chapter, will be supporting our political resolutions and working to build support among other chapters. I also plan to support NPC candidates that align with the CPN platform. I’m experienced with Roberts Rules and parliamentary procedure, and actually get energized from long debates and amendments. Finally, I would like to represent this chapter as a delegate so that I can be a trainer for other chapters on financial policies and procedures. Financial management is a shortcoming of many chapters, and training other chapter leaders at the convention will be critical for building this capacity across the country. I’ve already been in touch with the national office about this and would like to represent our chapter in this capacity as well as through resolution debate and voting.

Michael E:

My name is Michael (she/her) and I’m running to be a delegate for our chapter at the 2019 DSA National Convention. Over the past year I’ve served as chapter co-chair and would be honored to represent our membership at the Convention. I’ve acted as a New Orleans delegate at regional DSA gatherings in Atlanta and in Dallas, I’ve chaired countless meetings in our chapter, and I’m familiar with the rules of parliamentary procedure that we use in DSA. I’ve also acted as a core member of the outreach team for Collective Power Network (CPN), the national political formation to which I belong, and in that capacity have organized one-on-one meetings with dozens of chapter leaders across the country.

If elected as a delegate, I would work diligently at the Convention to spread New Orleans DSA’s ideas, experiences and knowledge. I’d advocate for policies that would strengthen Louisianan and Gulf Coast chapters, as well as those that speak to the needs and experiences of DSA’s women and black members. I’d also work to support CPN resolutions — to establish regional bodies within DSA, to grow to 100k members by 2021 and more — that our members have played a key role in promoting, and that I believe will be critical for growing DSA into a mass, working class organization.

Jordan F:

Hello! I’m running for delegate to represent New Orleans DSA at the 2019 National Convention. I’ve been involved with New Orleans DSA since spring of 2018. I’ve contributed to the growth of our health fairs, brake light clinics, and helped write sections of the brake light clinic manual. I was also on the coordinating committee to help organize the first Louisiana Statewide Summit of DSA organizers. I’ve been a part of chapter leadership as one of  the At-Large Local Council Members since December 2018. I helped develop the process for the Chapter Program strategy sessions and facilitated strategy meetings in that capacity.

I want to represent New Orleans DSA at National Convention because we have an incredibly strong chapter and I want to share our organizing style and successes with organizers from across the country. Our chapter had a very strong showing at the preconvention conference in Dallas. We presented clear ideas of what organizing in DSA should look like and steps on how to get there in a cohesive and unified way. I want our chapter to be a leader nationwide.

I’ve also been organizing with all the candidates as part of the national formation, Collective Power Network. I’ve helped the team develop resolutions for the convention and was one of the principal authors of a resolution calling for DSA National to create a national plan for recruiting and retention. I drew heavily from conversations during our Chapter Program strategy meetings on this project. I’ve also been part of the team doing outreach and calling other chapters and delegates to share our resolutions with them and get them to support us. In doing this, I can say firsthand that our chapter has as a strong reputation and that organizers across the country are watching what we are doing!

Frances G:

I’m Frances (she/her). As a co-chair of the Health Care Committee, I have been deeply involved in our chapter’s Medicare for All campaign, and for the last year, I’ve been a regional organizer for the national DSA Medicare for All campaign. In this role, I have spent a lot of time talking to chapters all across the South about how to win Medicare for All. I have gotten to know DSA organizers working on M4A in vastly different political conditions, in chapters both big and small, amidst unique challenges and opportunities. But across the region and across the country, one thing rings true: DSA New Orleans’ Medicare for All campaign is an inspiration! Among other things, we have successfully paired a legislative pressure campaign (to push forward the Medicare for All Act) with powerful direct service (Health Fairs + Medical Debt Clinics). If I’m elected as a Convention delegate, I intend to use that opportunity to share what we’ve learned through our chapter’s M4A work with many more chapters, both throughout and beyond the South, because I believe that highlighting our chapter’s vision of organizing for health justice is key to strengthening and ultimately winning the national Medicare for All campaign.

Additionally, my regional work with the DSA M4A campaign has convinced me that developing strong regional infrastructure is a crucial next step for our organization. We need resources, strategies, skills, and decision-making to be disseminated meaningfully between chapters. If DSA is going to build and wield power on a national scale, we need to be strong locally and regionally. The Collective Power Network, which I am a member of, has put forth proposals for consideration at the Convention that will (among other amazing things!) prioritize building regional organizational infrastructure. As a former convention delegate, and as someone with two years’ experience as our chapter’s secretary, I am fluent with the parliamentary procedure that will be used at the Convention, and I will use that experience to ensure that these and other needed proposals are approved by the national membership.

Josh L:

Fellow members,
Important decisions will be made in August at our national convention. DSA grew dramatically over the past few years, and we are dealing with some growing pains. Many chapters are struggling to gain traction in their organizing, but we don’t have effective ways of supporting each other, sharing resources, or developing coordinated political campaigns. We are an organization that aspires to be a serious political force of the working class. To achieve this, we need to make some changes. I’ve been involved with others from New Orleans and elsewhere in to propose several resolutions and amendments that we believe can help DSA grow and diversify its membership in working class communities, and provide more resources for smaller chapters through regional networks and more staff at the national office to support these efforts.

After serving as  chapter co-chair for two terms, and attending the 2017 convention, I believe I can work effectively with others to advance these proposals. As a delegate I would also aim to build greater understanding amongst our fellow members of the issues facing our city and communities across the Gulf South. Our families, our schools, our environment, and our basic rights are under constant attack from the rich and the leaders they control. To transform the destructive system that brought us Katrina, charter schools, and sea level rise, we need members from around the country to understand what we’re up against and act collectively with us.

Sue M:

I’m running for convention delegate for much the same reasons I ran last year for At-Large council member for New Orleans DSA; because I believe that the next year will be a critical one for our organization nationally, and I want to work to ensure that we are building the systems and structures that will serve us well moving forward. Over the past six months, I’ve worked with members of our chapter and comrades across the country to build the Collective Power Network, a formation centered on developing national structures that will create new levels of democratic representation, strengthen southern and rural chapters, build regionally appropriate labor strategies, and grow DSA into a larger and more diverse organization that better reflects the working class of this country.

In the process of doing so, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to members and leadership from chapters across the country as well, a process that has truly brought home both how special New Orleans DSA is and how critical it is that our chapter’s organizing approach: creating systems to support analysis and learning, intentionally building solidarity and common purpose among our membership, and reinforcing an internal culture of kindness and mutual aid, inform the general body of DSA.  We’re a small chapter, but we have built tremendous reach and influence for our size, we have a critical opportunity to leverage that reach for the purpose of building the stronger and healthier national organization necessary to win the future we want to see. If you vote to send me to the national convention, I’ll be fighting for these necessary reforms, for systems and structures that make DSA stronger, and working to execute a floor strategy that helps to expand the influence of our chapter and its culture to punch above the weight of our limited delegate count.  

Cate R:

I am Cate Root and I am a writer. I am usually the person who starts the google doc. I have one of those brains where I walk in the kitchen 30 seconds before the timer goes off. I have at least 3 active notebooks at any given time. I am good at putting a lot of information into my head and turning it into sentences. If elected to go to Atlanta, I will work faithfully with our comrades to represent the best interests of our chapter and our organization.

Emmanuel S:

Hey y’all. I’m Emmanuel, I’m from Louisiana and plan on organizing in the south forever. I am currently organizing with a labor union and have been involved with rank and file organizing for about five years before going on staff. I joined DSA at the end of 2017 because my experience with labor organizing taught me that without a mass working class party our efforts will not be able to scale up in the way that we need. I organize with worker leaders, shop stewards, and organizing committee to put pressure on bosses and to further develop leaders to be able to organize themselves and to navigate their own union. As a labor organizer, I constantly have to work through workers fears, doubts, disillusionment, and hopelessness to be able to work together, push a plan through, and to win issues. I have experience with union elections and working through internal disagreements.