If you have questions about any of the information below, please ask in the #2019-local-election channel on the chapter Slack.
Voting will take place online (using the OpaVote platform), starting Friday, May 17 and will conclude at 8 PM on Tuesday, May 21.
If you are a member in good standing as of 8:00pm on May 5, you should receive your ballot via email (from email@example.com) on May 17. Space for open debate on all candidates up for election (as well as other items up for a vote related to the chapter’s May 19 general body meeting) is provided on Metro DC DSA’s Discourse forum at http://forum.mdcdsa.org/
If you do not receive an email from OpaVote and/or cannot log in to the forum, please contact TempElectionWG@mdcdsa.org so that we can verify your membership.
If you need to renew your dues, please sign up for monthly rather than annual dues so the chapter can benefit from dues sharing with national! (We are now verifying membership through data requests to the national DSA office, so the May 6 deadline for dues renewal is non-negotiable.)
Official descriptions of Steering Committee (9 at-large, 1 secretary, 1 treasurer) and Internal Organizing Committee (2 co-chairs) positions, and diversity requirements for Steering Committee elections, can be found in our chapter bylaws.
The following informal descriptions from former office holders describe their own experiences to provide potential candidates with additional guidance and context:
Austin K., Steering Committee
The duties of Steering – At Large, include: first and foremost ensuring that adherence to the bylaws is maintained, and that good faith efforts are made to fulfill resolutions; answering questions of process and organizing by the rank and file; assisting in setting up and organizing events; writing statements and resolutions; working with leads of other organizations to recruit to DSA, and building relationships with leads of movement organizations.
A Candidate Forum was held 5 PM Saturday, May 11 at the Friends Meeting House. Nominations for all open positions were accepted until 8:00pm on May 12. Metro DC DSA’s election rules require each nominee to receive 5 nominations by chapter members in good standing (self-nominations count!) to qualify as a candidate.
The following candidates have received the requisite number of nominations and accepted their candidacy:
Steering Committee At-Large Candidates
- G Paul Blundell
- Cassandra C
- Ben Davis
- Zach E
- Chip Gibbons
- Liz Golden
- Stuart Karaffa
- Irene Koo
- Kim Lehmkuhl
- Drew-Marie Lewis
- Aaron Marks
- Gabriel Rodriguez
- Nate S
- Eric Sommers
- Danny Turkel
- Brian Wivell
Internal Organizing Committee Co-Chair Candidates
- Brandon Hinke
All candidates were asked to respond to the following questions:
- Please describe your involvement with Metro DC DSA. (750 characters)
- Why do you believe you are a good fit for this position? (750 characters)
- What do you hope to accomplish for the chapter if elected to this position? (750 characters)
Questionnaire responses will be added to this page as they are received. (Last update: May 17 2019)
Some nominees have also submitted separate candidate statements, which can be read in the May 17 edition of the Washington Socialist‘s Weekly Update.
Candidate Responses: Steering Committee At-Large
G Paul Blundell (he/him)
(see Treasurer section below)
Cassandra C (she/her)
- I have been a member of the chapter for approximately one year and organized both within the chapter ― like with Migrant Justice ― and with other local groups, always centering solidarity, sustainable communities, and ever expanding our capacity for work ― values requisite of all socialist organizing. I have repeatedly stepped up to lead when necessary, most recently to coordinate security for our queer members after threats from local fascists. My status within the chapter as an active trans woman of color and effort to build ties with the DC trans community, has led to a flourishing trans cadre in the chapter by centering one-on-one relationships with new members, fostering new active organizers, confident in their ability to lead.
- My professional experience over the past five years includes managing operations for organizations with a few hundred active members, digital infrastructure and security, and driving change within an organization to improve its effectiveness and capacity while eroding oppressive structures. Today, I put this knowledge towards helping capitalists better extract value from their workers and it drains my soul, something I could not do if I didn’t see the benefit of my work on my coworkers daily. I would like, instead, to put this praxis acquired from the corporate world towards our chapter, thereby accelerating the genesis of a just and egalitarian world. This experience uniquely suits me to a role on Steering and I bring a lens others lack.
- I’d use my work experience to guide process changes, centering accountability and transparency, so work requisite for chapter functioning can get done without burnout. Cultural change comes from within, so I’d model effective patterns from Steering so other formations can benefit, slowly evolving the chapter towards healthy effectiveness. My accomplishments have only been made possible because of the tremendous support and love I’ve received from the chapter’s community, to which I would like to give back as a member of Steering ― sharing what I’ve learned and putting it into practice so we can all lead healthy, fulfilled lives despite a capricious world that daily strives to grind us to dust, a healing praxis of love that may shield us all.
Ben Davis (he/him)
(see Secretary section below)
Zach E (he/him)
(see Secretary section below)
Chip Gibbons (he/him)
- While I have been a socialist since the Bush years, I joined DSA shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump. The bulk of my work has been with political education. As co-chair of the Political Education Working Group, I helped found and run the Socialist Night School. We routinely have 35 to 50 people attend our sessions. With the Night School, I’ve helped us make programming selections that explore how racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression are intertwined with class exploitation and socialists can not fight one without fighting the other.
- Having helped run the Socialist Night School, I have had to balance tasks like arranging speakers, booking venues, and navigating Red Desk. I understand the basic administrative side of making something like the Night School run. Having helped build the Night School from scratch, I understand how projects are created within our chapter structures. This not only qualifies me to perform the work of the steering committee, it also gives me a perspective on how organizing is done within our chapter.
- As I explain in my candidate statement, Another World Is Possible, But Only if We Win It, socialism is is more than a constellation of causes. It is a way of understanding the root causes of our problems and a prescription for transformative change. Delaying an eviction for a single day, nonetheless programs like Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, is a tremendous victory. But we also must fight for a socialist future. My priorities on steering would be to:
- Continue and expand our existing political education programs.
- Make sure that we use historic opportunities to grow DSA and the socialist movement.
- Uphold and promote our culture of autonomy for member-initiated projects
- Promote more opportunities for chapter wide unity and mobilization.
Liz Golden (she/her)
- I have been an active MDC DSA member for about two years now. After becoming really active in Stomp Out Slumlords in 2018 I was approached to run for steering. Well, I ended getting elected to steering and then I was internally elected within steering as Chair. The past year was full of a lot of lessons and hard work. I was able to help plan several different socials, our annual picnic, and monthly happy hours. I also got to knock some doors in Montgomery County and attended some Migrant Justice Protests and art builds. Outside of campaign work I helped plan our local convention by making sure everyone got dinner. I assisted in executing our regional conference, by working with national to book space, meals and other items.
- As chair for the past year, I feel that I got to learn about our chapter and its internal working but not enough. The term, unfortunately, was met with a lot of hiccups and while I feel we did a good dealing with those and fixing those problems, we as steering were not able to move the chapter forward. I believe that I have the leadership and organizational knowledge to make sure items in the Toward Power slate come to fruition. I am skilled at event planning large scale and small. As a program coordinator by day, I am familiar with creating and executing retention programs for volunteers and I pride myself on my interpersonal skills and I feel I can reach across to all people within the chapter in order to build a better world that we need.
- As outlined in the Toward Power slate there are several different goals I would like to accomplish if elected to steering. When I ran last year, recruitment and retention along with establishing a new member program were one of my main goals. While steering took on many administrative tasks, project VERITAS, the local and regional conference all happened I was not able to accomplish this. However, this is my top priority for the coming year. I want member engagements to increase by 25% and I would like to see our chapter (one of the largest in the country) develop chapter priorities so our work aligns with each other and our collective goals through a democratic member-driven process, have a successful chapter fundraiser and much more.
Stuart Karaffa (he/him)
- I joined DSA in January 2017. My recent work in our chapter has included the following: Winter 2018 to Autumn 2018. Elected co-chair of the Metro DC DSA Electoral Caucus, which coordinated the chapter-wide endorsement of six candidates in Maryland and one candidate in DC (4/7 candidates won their elections). Spring 2018. Elected to (and currently hold) an at-large seat on the Steering Committee. Autumn 2018. Led the push for improving our chapter’s electoral endorsement processes, by implementing new bylaws that make endorsement decisions more accessible, transparent, and democratic. Winter 2018 to present. Advised and supported the chapter’s 2019 Virginia Elections Working Group as new electoral organizers took on leadership roles.
- My experience in organizing has taught me that if we fight alone for economic, social, and racial justice, we will fail. This has led me to build coalitions–both inside and outside our chapter–which I think makes me a good fit for the Steering Committee.In DSA, I have built coalitions by: Working with the DC Reinvest coalition and the former MDC DSA Environmental Justice Committee to develop the ANC engagement campaign. Coordinating with the Montgomery County branch of MDC DSA — along with immigrant advocacy groups and unions — to jointly endorse DSA candidates in Maryland.Engaging members in our chapter to draft, critique, and revise a new electoral endorsement process, which passed near-unanimously at the 2018 local convention.
- When I ran for Steering last year, my priorities for the chapter were (1) online voting and (2) revamping our electoral endorsement procedure. We achieved both of these goals. My priorities now align with the Towards Power slate. Our slate’s platform seeks to recruit new members and develop new leaders through the following initiatives: (1) Transparent, democratic process to define chapter priorities. (2) Deliberate recruitment and leadership development effort. (3) Co-governance group to stay connected with elected officials. (4) Hosting more accessible, alcohol-free social events with childcare provided. New Orleans DSA operates under a similar model and has high member engagement levels. I look forward to achieving similar results for Metro DC DSA.
Irene Koo (she/her)
- I’ve been heavily involved in our chapter’s migrant justice working group, particularly throughout our series of direct actions against deportation profiteers. I’ve participated as a speaker, contributed to our research, served as a marshal, and was part of the arrestable action at ICE headquarters in Fairfax. I also led the migrant justice organizing session at the 2019 regional convention. Over the past few months, I have been a member mobilizer and served on electoral WG leadership as an organizer to elect Irma Corado and Yasmine Taeb. In the latter role, I’ve helped to mobilize chapter members for weekly canvasses, organize fundraisers and events, coordinate our campaign strategy, and work with our candidate to develop her platform.
- Over the past year and a half, I have had the opportunity to participate in various campaigns and actions across the chapter, from canvassing, to international solidarity actions, to A12. One of the most valuable experiences for me as a member has been organizing alongside and building relationships with people from different working groups and political tendencies. I am deeply committed to working with and learning from everyone in the chapter. I believe that my leadership experiences within DSA, as well as my role as a union lead in my local (IFPTE 70), have given me insight into effective organizing, ways to bring in new people and support their growth as organizer-activists, and strategies to build and strengthen MDC DSA.
- If elected to Steering, I hope to prioritize intentional recruitment, with the goal of building a more diverse and inclusive chapter that is reflective of the working class. I plan to help formalize leadership development and member engagement, particularly through organizing trainings; empowering and providing support to members who volunteer their time, energy, and labor to this work; and coordinated work with Socialist Night School and the Member Mobilizer program. Finally, I am committed to fostering stronger collaboration among working groups through the development of a democratic, members-driven priorities process. I’m really excited and hopeful to be running with the Towards Power slate to introduce initiatives to that end.
Kim Lehmkuhl (she/her, they/them)
- I’m a current member of the Steering Committee, and in that capacity focus my efforts on administrative work supporting chapter tech needs, including updating content for and planning a redesign of our website, writing chapterwide emails, verifying and cleaning up member data, implementing our new online voting process, and launching the chapter Discourse forum as a space for open debate. I facilitate the monthly Socialist Feminist Reading Group, wrote an inclusive participation guide that has become a model for other chapter bodies, and act as co-convenor of SocFem Caucus activity. I’m a member of the anti-authoritarian Libertarian Socialist Caucus, and advocate to smash hierarchy, interpersonal dominance, and gatekeeping in the chapter.
- Steering is an administrative body responsible for scaffolding the chapter needs to function: we must safeguard members’ money and data privacy, file taxes, comply with campaign finance laws, ensure physical security at events, and make or refrain from public statements on behalf of the general body. Steering should serve to grease the wheels, rather than increase needless friction, for rank and file members to feel truly supported in the internal and external organizing work that is most meaningful to them. I am a vociferous advocate for developing competency and accountability for those tasks Steering must do and against a Philly DSA-style “boss caucus” approach that is about exercising political control and neglecting these core duties.
- I joined DSA to find community and respite from the atomization, competition, and despair of life under late capitalism. I came here because I want solidarity, which requires inclusionary cultural norms, a baseline of trust and willingness to be vulnerable, investment in each others’ emotional and material well-being, skills in deescalation and healthy conflict, and commitment to building a better world together that leaves nobody behind. We have a tremendous amount of work to do to interrupt the replication of oppressions we experience in our jobs, interactions with the state, and families that grind us down and make organizing for change so difficult. Repairing harm and building resiliency is my number one priority for the next year.
Drew-Marie Lewis (they/them)
- My first involvement with Metro DC DSA was the planning meeting for A-12 and then the action itself. (It’s possible that I had attended one happy hour. I’m not certain of the timeline.) I had recently joined through national after reading about DSA in an article on AOC’s primary victory. During the introductions at the planning meeting, with the normalizing of pronouns during introductions I immediately knew that I was in a comfortable, welcoming place that would include trans people in their analysis of intersectionality.I have been involved with the socialist feminist caucus, and am in the process of re-booting the queer caucus. I have been to several happy hours and met many comrades, general body meetings, socialist school sessions, NoVA branch general body meetings and happy hours, and one MoCo branch event. I was a delegate for the Metro DC chapter at the Regional DSA convention, and was a representative of the chapter at the socialist feminist convergence. I hope to be able to assist in the door knocking campaign for Irma Corado.
- I can help bring diversity to the chapter and suburban (NoVA) representation. As a Gen X, Queer, nonbinary trans person, I will help to represent the diversity of the chapter, which I believe is needed for outreach to marginalized communities, and as I’ve become acquainted with the chapter over the past 10 months, I realize that increasing the diversity of the chapter (at least among the most active/involved members) is essential. This can be done in two ways. The first is asking among the current membership what issues are of importance to them/their communities, and giving them the mentoring and assistance they would need for organizing internally, and helping them educate other members about their issues and communities. The second is focusing/targeting outreach and organizing to under-represented marginalized communities to increase the diversity of the chapter and make it’s membership more representative of all segments of the population.
- Organize to increase the diversity of the chapter. Focus more on intersectionality. Help the membership grow, and get more members actively involved, not where they come to one or two events, feel put off or that they’re not in the right place/that DSA is can’t do anything for them and just ghost the chapter. Finding out what other people want the chapter to do, and helping them accomplish those goals.
Aaron Marks (he/him)
- I joined DSA in Spring 2017. I created the Health Care WG, where I organized a week of rallies outside the Capitol to stop the Obamacare repeal. I also helped organize a Health Care Town Hall to talk about the importance of Medicare for All and health justice. In 2018, I served as a marshal for 3 of the Migrant Justice actions. During the A12 antifascist counterprotest, I organized housing for out-of-town marshals who were protecting the protesters at Freedom Plaza. I’ve also helped National DSA plan for its 2019 Convention. I located and helped negotiate the contract with the venue, and I helped write the preconvention rules. I have also revived the Palestine Solidarity Working Group and our coalition to end police exchanges with Israel.
- Since 2017, I’ve gained a lot of experience with both the internal and external functions of the organization, and I am used to interacting with a variety of tendencies. I’ve worked on various projects in both the local chapter and the national organization, including the Health Care WG and the National Convention Planning Committee. I will use my skills learned from external organizing and internal administrative work, to help the Steering Committee streamline the work it needs to accomplish, as well as to build relationships between our chapter and the DMV organizing community. I am also the only candidate based in MoCo, and I’d like to serve as a liaison between the MoCo Branch and the rest of the chapter.
- The Steering Committee is primarily an administrative body. Right now, our chapter’s administrative structure is not organized in a clear way. It’s not clear what work needs to be done, who needs to be doing it, or when any of it needs to get done. We have no real workflow, but we need a clearly defined and efficient workflow to function as a chapter.Our external political goals cannot be accomplished effectively without this. Our chapter and organizing work need to be re-built from the bottom up, but that can’t happen if we are still structured like a 200-member organization, instead of a 2,000-member one. For the chapter to build itself, the structures that allow the chapter to function need to be updated and improved.
Gabriel Rodriguez (he/him)
- I am on the current Steering Committee as Treasurer for the 2018 term and have continued to develop the local’s finances. Previously I was the campaign representative for Danielle Meitiv during the 2018 MoCo elections, for which I also drove and canvassed for. I have also participated in the 2018 ANC elections organizing by leading a “How to Campaign” training and canvassing, helped organize the anti-fascist rally during A12 by helping with procuring equipment and building the event venue, am active in administrative work, drove and canvassed for the 2017 Virginia elections, and have attended many actions by other campaigns in solidarity. I also assisted National DSA with a “How to Fundraise” training during the 2018 Regional Conference.
- Going from a dormant member who did not know anything about DSA to leadership during the past two years has given me perspective on the efforts and information gaps that face new members that wish to get involved, which are substantial. Having no previous activist or organizing background beyond interning for Obama in 2008, I take an attitude of constantly learning about DSA and left organizing. I keep a willingness to listen and comradely discuss with those who differ, wanting to take disagreements to a decision making body when possible instead of turning it personal. I have experienced one of the most tumultuous periods in MDC DSA and would bring experience on issues that are important to the committee but are not seen at a member level.
- I believe we should constantly be evaluating the systems and structures in the chapter. As stated above, I feel the new member experience is difficult and wish to change it beyond, “making things works better.” An assessment of all practices should be undertaken. There are things that chapter-wide can be done to promote a level involvement beyond the dynamic of dormant member vs organizer. This only heightens the representation issues of active members, heavily favoring young white professionals who have time to participate. I would like to see the chapter exert itself in line with our size. A priority is working with IOC to develop a chapter mobilization plan for internal/external events that takes into account the desires of our members.
Nate S (they/them)
- I joined MDC DSA in February 2017 after coming to the Left via Bernie. My focus has been building the internal structure of the chapter and strengthening our org. In 2017, I was delegate to the National Convention, wrote several bylaws reforms, and founded our Member Mobilizer program. I am Steering Committee/Secretary since Jan 2018. We implemented the Admin Committee (which I helped create and co-chair) and various democratic chapter reforms such as the Red Desk ticketing system, regular meeting minutes, and Google drive documentation. I also helped address events such as the Nielsen protest and A12. I am running for At Large to continue that work on chapter reform and capacity building.
- As Secretary, for the past year and a half I’ve worked to ensure our chapter has improved its admin capabilities to be more functional for our membership. As a union organizer, I have experience taking membership organizations from inactive/disengaged states to more engaged, thriving orgs. Our past Steering Committee has been so focused on fixing basic foundations and putting out fires that we haven’t had a chance to think about how we can truly make our chapter thrive with active membership, tons of capacity, strong onboarding, and a strategy. As part of the Towards Power slate I look forward to building that plan and program, creating a truly thriving chapter and not one that is just keeping the wheels on.
- Our slate’s analysis is that the chapter has a crisis of active membership declining and burning out. This has led to lack of capacity and will quickly result in a funding crisis. We need:
- A serious focus on recruitment and retention, using Bernie 2020 and political education to onboard new members and proactively diversifying our org to reflect the working class. We need to revamp the Mobilizer program and train our new and inactive members into organizers and leaders.
- A democratic member-driven process to develop chapter priorities so our work aligns with each other and our collective goals.
Steering must be fully committed to these solutions and I encourage everyone to vote for our full slate. Platform at bit.ly/towardspower.
Eric Sommers (he/him)
- I joined Metro DC DSA in July 2016, I have seen the chapter grow immensely since that time. At first I was trying to figure out my involvement within the Chapter, having joined via the book group. Since that time, I have been involved in numerous support roles such as participating in panel discussions, direct actions (including Migrant Justice, the Women’s March, and the Poor People’s Campaign) and discussions. Currently I am a founding member of the Socialists of Faith caucus within the chapter, and a promoter of caucuses as a way for people to creatively express who they are in a socialist organizing context. I am also involved with the Disabilities Justice caucus, knowing full well how people on the autistic spectrum fare under capitalism.
- I bring a unique perspective and vision that I believe is needed within the chapter. I am acquainted with all the various ideological factions within our chapter and see that as a way to bring everyone to the discussion table to craft a strategic synthesis which can work given our local conditions. My work with the Poor People’s Campaign has taught me the value of understanding the need to build relationship with coalition partners as a viable political strategy to gain power. My religious background also has informed me that in addition to a material analysis of current conditions one must put forward a vision that comrades can believe in order to create the world we wish to live in. We must believe that a better world is possible, and that we are actors in its creation.
- First and foremost, to allow voices which due to privilege by dominant groups do not get heard often within the chapter. A GBM dedicated to understanding of gender and race within the context of deconstructing cis white male privilege is necessary. Second, we must as a chapter craft a strategy in which the energy of our working groups can be better directed (without infringing on their autonomy). Third we must continue to create more social events to boost fundraising and also to promote solidarity with each other as comrades. Related to this is the need to impress on our membership that introspection is necessary especially by people with privilege, in order to be truly revolutionaries we must create within ourselves the habits and behaviors that will make for a better world. We must guard against and chip away the baggage we all bring due to the capitalist world we have grown up in.
Danny Turkel (he/him)
- I am a member of the chapter’s media team, which serves to both promote and defend the chapter in the media. Our team has placed stories featuring chapter members and the work MDC DSA does in prominent newspapers across the country. We’ve also been a frontline defense against political attacks and plots to undermine MDC DSA’s work. The media team also provides regular media trainings to educate and prepare members on how to best engage with the media.
- As a member of the chapter’s media team, I have a unique perspective on the chapter’s work. Being in contact with the various campaigns and working groups allows us to better represent the chapter in the press. That view of the entire MDC DSA tent provides me with a big picture view of our work and how it fits together, both within the chapter and within the broader region. Steering has also had a dearth of members who can competently and consistently speak to media. Having a media-fluent Steering member will better position the chapter and further elevate the work we’re doing.
- I’ve been a member of MDC DSA for two years. In that time, I’ve seen new, enthusiastic members come into our chapter looking to get involved and put their energy towards the chapter’s goals. The vast majority of those members have eventually left, discouraged and disillusioned, because the chapter lacks the necessary infrastructure and commitment to adequately onboard new and inactive members. I’d like to use my time on Steering to enhance the chapter’s systems and processes for recruitment, engagement and mobilization. This is a position I share with the rest of the Towards Power slate and I encourage all members to vote for the slate in order to renew and invigorate our chapter.
Brian Wivell (he/him)
(see Treasurer section below)
Candidate Responses: Treasurer
GPaul Blundell (he/him)
- After a decade and a half in the egalitarian communes movement, I joined MDC DSA in September of 2018 to join the fight against capital and build mass power. I’ve been most active in SOS participating in and leading canvasses, working to improve the backend data handling system, and taking lead on organizing a building. I have been working to get involved in Campaigns Council, IOC, and Member Mobilizers to try to use my organizational experience to help the chapter be more accessible, empowering, and effective. I’ve also, as my schedule allows, been sampling other activities within the chapter to get a sense of the breadth of activity that our members are organizing to both see where I can be useful and to get a better sense of what we are.
- I have been the treasurer or accountant for every organization I’ve been a part of for the last 15 years, almost all of which were consensus run cooperative groups and almost all of which were more financially complicated than MDC DSA. I have run participatory budgeting processes for groups with low levels of financial literacy and learned ways to present financial information accessibly. I have a lot of experience with building and maintaining democratic leftist organizations, particularly in recruitment, onboarding, engagement, and in crafting empowering, inviting, participatory culture. I’m an experienced and skilled facilitator and mediator, have huge patience for meetings, a head for detail, and a facility with logistics and systems.
- We are a democratic volunteer organization. I believe that our strength comes from educating, empowering, and supporting our members as they use the chapter to explore ways to organize for working class power. I am excited to continue the work of IOC, to continue to develop Campaigns Council, and to expand Member Mobilizers. The outgoing IOC co-chairs have done great foundational work and laid out a great vision which I am chomping at the bit to continue to implement and develop. As I new member I am painfully aware of how difficult it is to figure out how decisions are made in the chapter. I will work tirelessly to improve transparency and accessibility to all our members, particularly less well represented demographics within the chapter.
Brian Wivell (he/him)
- I joined MDC DSA in March 2016 after Bernie won the Michigan primary. Since then I’ve dedicated countless hours to helping build the chapter. I spend most of my time on electoral campaigns and am currently the Co-Chair of our Electoral Working Group, trying to get Irma Corado and Yasmine Taeb elected in Virginia. I’ve also served on the Administrative Committee since its creation and have run three chapter elections. I’ve also planned several social events for the local, including DSA outings at DC United and Nationals games. I also led the charge to hold a Local Convention in 2017 and then helped plan it. I’ve also served on the YDSA Presidium in 2017 and 2018, helping them run their yearly conventions.
- As treasurer, I would be bringing my past experience on political campaigns to helping craft a budget for the local. On campaigns, I have helped raise and spend over a million dollars in the last two years, all while making sure that everything is meticulously tracked. Through my chapter work, I have also learned how important it is to follow campaign finance rules and carefully way our options. But first and foremost I think it is essential that all Treasurer candidates commit to publishing a budget as required in the bylaws that allows us to begin the participatory budgeting process as was passed at the 2017 Local Convention. Members deserve a say in budgeting so that we don’t spend money on a “First Come, First Served” basis.
- I am proud to be running on the Towards Power slate and platform with many great comrades. We chose to run on a platform because we recognize one person by themselves on Steering isn’t enough to fix some of the problems we face in our chapter. We have committed to convening an inclusive process for developing chapter priorities, modeled off the work of New Orleans, Boston, and Southern Maine. As Treasurer, I would be a very important part of that process because of the positions’ relationship to the budget. I will also commit to voting for a recruitment, retention, member engagement, and leadership development strategy in coordination with the IOC. I believe that this is the only way to directly work towards fixing DSA’s demographics.
Candidate Responses: Secretary
Ben Davis (he/him)
- I have been honored to participate in MDC DSA as an active member since 2017. I have done a wide variety of organizing in the chapter. I served as the Compliance Officer for our Montgomery County Elections Working Group in 2018. I was also nonvoting member of the National Compliance Subcommittee, helped design and lead a training for ANC candidates and a training for working class candidates in Virginia with La ColectiVA, and was a lead organizer on our successful Emily Gasoi for State Board of Ed campaign. This year, I have been a member of the Administrative Committee and a member of our Northern Virginia elections leadership team. I have participated as a rank-and-file member in a number of other events and campaigns such as volunteering at the YDSA conference and assisting other chapters with their electoral programs.
- As secretary, I would bring a wide array of experience, both volunteer and professional, in doing the administrative work that keeps organizations running. I worked professionally for several years as an HR and payroll specialist, administering the records of thousands of people. This year, as a member of the Administrative Committee, I assisted our current secretary with tasks such as taking minutes on Steering Committee meetings.
- I am running with as part of the Towards Power slate with some incredible comrades. I see the role of Steering Committee as empowering rank-and-file members to be able to participate and have as much say in our chapter as possible. As secretary, I will help our administrative work run as smoothly as possible. I will make sure minutes are timely and sent to all members, so members know exactly what decisions the Steering Committee is making, and to make sure all resolutions, amendments, and debates are available to all members. I pledge to help our members by supporting a democratic priorities process, and a recruitment, retention, and leadership development plan.
Zach E (he/him)
- I joined Metro DC DSA in July of 2017, getting involved in the DC ReInvest campaign through the Environmental Justice Committee. My year as a core organizer in that effort led to me developing the strategy and structure of our ANC Elections Working Group, where I organized canvassing and recruiting candidates for our slate. Since November 2018, my main organizing focus has been the Ecosocialists Caucus, which I am co-chair of. I helped spearhead the Community Gardening Working Group and put on monthly meetings for discussion with other parts of the chapter or with outside speakers. In addition, I have been working with the Red Cubs Child Care program, both volunteering for childcare and helping run trainings.
- Comrades across the chapter can trust me to do the nuts-and-bolts administrative tasks — managing spreadsheets, taking minutes, etc. As Secretary, I will work to create infrastructure that helps members collaborate democratically and build power in their campaigns. Also, as the climate crisis deepens and its impact on the working class accelerates, it will be more important than ever that we center ecosocialism in our understanding of the future beyond capitalism. Finally, I have frequently worked in coalitions, starting with but not limited to the DC Reinvest coalition. That coalition work has given me experience in emphasizing points of agreement and resolving conflicts constructively so that collectively prioritized work can continue.
- I want us to have an expansive vision of what socialist organizing and an empowered working class can look like. We must help people struggle in the political arenas that capitalist ideology trains us to ignore — our relationship with our bosses, our landlords, and everywhere. That means encouraging political education and programs that bring DSA members into close contact with community, whether that means tenant organizing, labor struggles, or electoral campaigns. As mentioned earlier, I believe strongly in the potential of DSA as a coalition partner. I believe that DSA can be a vital center for the left in DC, and I hope to connect to other organizations to assemble a broad coalition that can bring real left politics to the forefront.