IN FAVOR: Peter G.
Our chapter has just won a monumental victory with the election of Janeese Lewis George to the DC Council, as the single most active supporting organization – making over 5,000 calls – for the new member representing Ward 4. Janeese’s victory marks a turning point in DC politics, replacing one of the Mayor’s closest allies with a Black socialist and DSA member who supports defunding the police and investing in our communities.
Earlier this week, Janeese spoke at a rally alongside another Black socialist, Del. Gabriel Acevero, who we also supported and assisted in getting elected – a rally that Metro DC DSA organized alongside Black-led community and tenant organizations. Acevero was elected alongside Vaughn Stewart – two socialists working together in a state house to introduce legislation that defends the interests of the working class and communities of color.
Our chapter has an honorable record of electoral work which is now paying off in our ability to mobilize political leaders in support of working-class, socialist demands – including the demand to defund the police to preserve Black lives and invest in our public schools, public housing, public transit, and non-carceral public safety.
Endorsing Ed Lazere is another important step towards winning these demands. Ed has been a tireless advocate of progressive public policies throughout the last several decades, fighting against corporate tax breaks for real estate developers and the wealthy, and pushing to increase funding for affordable housing and public schools. He has, through his leadership of the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the city’s budget process that he promises to use to be an effective advocate for working people in the District of Columbia.
But beyond this, Ed has also moved with the times. His advocacy in times past existed within a far more constrained political space, one where the ideals of socialism had been largely banished from the DC political scene. It is understandable that someone who has been in the trenches of fights over the city budget in times where there was no mass movement for radical change sometimes had limited horizons of what was possible.
But as our movements have grown, so have Ed’s ambitions for what can be achieved in this city. Before he even launched his campaign, Ed joined DSA for a town hall in support of Reclaim Rent Control. He has been steadfast in his demand to expand and strengthen these essential tenant protections, and during COVID-19 he has supported Ilhan Omar’s federal legislation to cancel rents and local measures comparable to DSA Supervisor Dean Preston’s legislation to prohibit evictions based on rent not paid during the COVID crisis.
He has also supported applying rent control (as defined by the Reclaim Rent Control campaign) to every housing unit in the city for a significant period of time after the crisis, in order to prevent attempts to evict tenants who benefit from moratoriums through unjust rent increases. This would protect thousands of group house tenants from evictions and was secured directly through detailed policy discussions with DSA’s Rent Control Working Group. The fact that Ed Lazere has engaged DSA in such discussions and has been willing to expand the ambition of his policies gives me hope that as a leader, he will be accountable to our movement.
Ed has also marched with us to defund the police and publicly highlighted this on his social media. He is a proud member of DSA and on endorsement calls has committed to use his knowledge of the DC budget to develop our own capacity to productively engage with Janeese and himself on the council by providing trainings and night schools to DSA on its mechanisms and how we can be most impactful. This shows a deep commitment not just to winning an election, but to building DSA as a real force in DC politics in the long run.
We should not constrain our ambitions. In future, we want to see a majority of DSA-endorsed candidates on the DC Council. And we want to be able to use that majority to pass policies that reflect our democratic socialist values and build a city – and eventually a state – that serves working-class people instead of real estate capitalists, landlords and big businesses.
We must therefore put our focus on electing democratic socialist candidates who are running to win. Ed already has a proven base in the District, having won a third of the vote in 2018 when he was challenging Phil Mendelsohn in a DC-wide election. In a crowded field, where moderate forces will be divided between Chamber of Commerce boss Vincent Orange and Bowser ally Marcus Goodwin, all socialists and progressives should unite behind one candidate who has raised huge sums of small-donor money and is widely acknowledged as one of the frontrunners for the single independent seat (the other seat is guaranteed to be won by a Democrat, Robert White). That candidate is Ed Lazere.
We can continue the movement towards a socialist- and movement-led Council by electing a second democratic socialist alongside Janeese Lewis George in November. Ed will be a vital support for Janeese on the council, will help to build DSA’s political capacity, and will stand alongside our campaigns to defund the police, organize workers and tenants, and build collective power for our class.
Vote Yes on endorsing Ed Lazere.