Metro DC DSA Steering Committee Candidate Forum - Jan 26 2021
Metro DC DSA Steering Committee Candidate Forum - Jan 26 2021: Audio automatically transcribed by Sonix
So we're going to start off with each candidate giving just a little small pitch, telling the numbers a little bit more about themselves. And then we can go into questions and I'll be monitoring or I'll be taking stock for those.
So let's start with Runal.
And you have about two minutes, but I won't like hardhearted cut you off, but try to keep it as close to two minutes as possible.
Awesome, thanks. Good evening, everybody. All my comrades, fellow candidates and everyone else, my name is Runal. I use him pronouns.
And one main reason why I'm running is because I strongly believe that leadership roles should be given just to chat to members who are known by folks in leadership positions. I strongly believe that newer members and including new members should have leadership opportunities. And so I joined this chapter last April, April 20, 20, and during a short period of time, I've become a very involved member of the chapter. I'm currently on an internal organizing subgroup coordinator of the different MPD working group. And recently I was the mobilization lead for the Fight for a Lives Action, that funny action with the huge Joe Biden puppet and all that stuff. So I was the mobilization leader and before that I was a campaign organizer for Ed Lazear, for the D.C. Council at large and Mickey Valentine for the NC State Board of Education. So those are primarily leadership positions I've been involved in, but I'm also a member of the Montgomery County branch and Eco Socialist Caucus and the Socialist Caucus and red sparrows. I don't know that's supposed to be secret. So I might be a member of red sparrows, but yes. So that's kind of like what I've done in this chapter so far. And so my goals are to always, as I mentioned, to make sure more leadership positions are available to newer members, because I believe that will help us on this chapter in gaining fresh perspectives and new approaches to addressing our goals and will also help new members feeling more welcome across the chapter. In addition to that, I also want to increase collaboration between different chapter formations, working groups, caucuses, committees, because I believe that socialists aren't single issue people and this needs to be demonstrated more in the work that we do in this chapter. Like, for example, we know that neoliberal politics really sucks, but it's also very on the path towards prison abolition and green new deal.
So it'd be awesome to see like the Socialist Caucus show up in solidarity at different empty events and vice versa, because I believe that each group can achieve a lot more when we have the full backing of each other in confronting many of the same institutional roadblocks. And I also want to make this chapter a truly diverse I know a lot of us believe in diversity of voices. We say that I think we should be represented in our membership. So I would work very hard to go on diversity, doing recruitment while working extra hard to make sure the voices of members are marginalized. Communities, including those who identify as non by non binary and or be EPOXI are heard. And yeah. And in addition to that, I also want to build transparency in a chapter. I want to develop a more horizontal organized organizational structure throughout. For example, I want to build more transparency between the steering committee and the chapter AdCom, the administrative committee, which has a lot of work. I recently found others like 70 people. I don't know that's a secret either. I'm probably not good at keeping secrets, but they have 70 people, 70 hardworking people. So I want to help build more transparency between steering and all the other committees while also helping to mitigate any bottlenecks in AdCom and other formations. And lastly, I want to build and strengthen relationships between chapter members, especially when we are in a virtual world thanks to pandemic. And it's definitely more difficult to maintain camaraderie and good, strong relationships with each other. So I'm going to help with the creation of more social covid safe events.
And I'll also make sure that our chapter members have in high morale and sense of involvement so we can all operate as a very efficient volunteer organization.
That's all for me and I appreciate it. Consideration and I look forward to working with you all as the next steering committee member.
It's you know, next up is Frank, and just the way I look at it for Runal, I'll just type in like once it's been two minutes in the chat, so I won't cut you off. But at that point, you can start winding down. Go ahead.
Right. Thank you so much, Irene. Thank you to all the other candidates. Stephanie, I really like your shirt, the hammer and sickle motif. That's really great. So I want to just say it's an honor to be here. I want to thank everyone who nominated me for this position. It's an incredible show of confidence that I really appreciate. I want to also acknowledge the hard work that one of our members, Gabriel, are who we will be, who will be filling. I've known Gabriel for many years. He's a great comrade. He's done a lot of work, most recently making sure that our convention was a great success. We sit at an inflection point in history, and this is an exciting moment to be having these debates. We are at the end hopefully of the Trump era and let's keep it that way. And we really have the opportunity to show what the left can be, that when the neoliberal politics of Joe Biden fail, that there is an alternative to barbarism and it's called socialism. We need to transform this energy, this moment that we've built over the past four years into something that can actually translate into material concessions for working people. That requires a steering committee that is a strong partner to all of our working groups, our branches and all the formations, and also is in constant dialogue with the groups like an administrative committee that keep the work of our organization moving forward.
I've I was in I've been honored to serve on the Montgomery County branch for two years. I've been sheriff for the last year. Since that time, we've seen membership double. I worked with the organizing committee in Prince George's County to build a branch there as well.
I was so proud that they were that their charter was ratified at our convention and now one in three Marylanders is in an organized branch of Metro D.C. DSA by jurisdiction. And that's the first thing that I want to work on. On the steering committee. We only have half a term to complete, but I want to get the work started of actually having a conversation of how do we actually make our branches reach their full potential.
Our branches cover massive swaths of area. Prince George's County, Fairfax County, Montgomery County, all have larger populations in the District of Columbia and combined have an area of around fifteen hundred square miles. That's about that's larger than the state of Rhode Island. So we are, in effect, a state organization in size just as much as we are a chapter by ourselves. I want to take the experiences that I've had in the Montgomery County branch fighting for against austerity, fighting to start our own defund Montgomery County Police Department campaign. I want to spend my time.
And that's the first of many things that I want to work on. I want to thank everyone for attending. And I look forward to talking about the rest of my platform when we come to the Q&A portion.
Thanks. Thank you. Sorry. The time is of like a super hard cut off. It's more just like just, you know, how long we've been talking. Next up is Diego.
Hello, comrades, my name is Diego, how lucky I am, a twenty six year old Latino organizer living in Fairfax County, and I'm asking for a vote in this special election to replace a great Comrade Gabriel who is stepping down from the steering committee.
Obviously, I currently serve the administrative committee as a digital content strategist and social media steward for chapter.
In that position, I hope to modernize with the communications team our digital communication strategy to increase our engagement and build connections with potential coalition partners in D.C. And I implemented that strategy while managing our Instagram platform to grow our following from six hundred to eighteen hundred or so followers, almost nineteen hundred now in only the past four months. And so some of you have worked with me already to make sure that your digital content is put up there and sometimes on Twitter as well.
I'm running for a position on the steering committee because I believe that my experience as a former staff member for the political department would be. BERNEY Twenty twenty campaign has given me a unique perspective in coalition building skill set that will allow me to be a strong asset for our organization moving forward. In this post Trump World, I wish to use my knowledge on coalition building and communications experience to help us develop closing closer working relationships with the labor movement and other other leftist organizations that operate in our region.
I know that oftentimes our hesitation to endorse candidates, for example, or because the candidates we want to endorse don't have strong labor backing it, and that that changes through developing those relationships through local department or local communications team.
If elected to the steering our steering committee, I will work to develop closer ties with the labor movement through the creation of a dedicated global political committee. Increase Metro D.C. participation in multi aid, multi or mutual aid projects, educational projects and direct action events, as well as increase their participation in our events when appropriate, elevating the work of our regional branches, working groups and identity caucuses that they're doing and elevating them both internally and externally through our social media in order or chapter as a whole to understand what everyone is doing in our chapter from every branch and be able to make it much easier to coordinate and share resources across a chapter.
I also pledge to help ensure that every new member becomes an active participant, participant in one or more of our working groups or administrative committees or branches by partnering with them within a more experienced mentor to help make sure at least that they open that first email, that they participate in those onboarding soon calls and are able to meet members of working groups to figure out what they want to do. And then I also lastly pledge to give every member a voice at our steering committee meetings.
I fully intend to essentially have an open door policy that if you have a concern, just message me and I'll make sure that's addressed. That's brought up at our steering committee meetings, even if even if I don't necessarily agree with it just because I believe everyone should deserve that chance to have their voices heard there and to read about how I plan to accomplish these priorities. Please feel free to check out my full candidacy statement, which I'll be posting in our chat in a second. We have four excellent, excellent candidates here.
We really do. And so no matter what. I'm very excited about the prospects for chapter and I appreciate all of you so much for your consideration of all these candidates for running, because our ideas have been excellent and I've been very inspired by what they've written in the past few days. So thank you very much. Solidarity.
Thanks, Diego. And then lastly, we have Stephanie.
And I have three very difficult acts to follow, so I guess thank you and Irene for making me last on this one. My name is Stephanie. I'm from Denver, Colorado. Originally, I moved out here about seven years ago or so. I'm DSR has been kind of a nice haven for me, honestly. I was a little bit politically lost and radicalizing and finding this has been really great for me. I'm currently working in the ad, come up with a lot of groups and a lot of teams. I'm currently the event's steward. I'm also working in the newly formed Security Department. And also one of the founders of the Red Square was that Renault had mentioned the other day, if you don't know, Red Sparrow's works with the red rabbits to provide a sort of eye in the sky to help our comrades on the ground know what's going on around them, since they can't necessarily see everything all the time. And I'm really, really proud of the work that they continue to do. They've been increasing their offerings, including our virtual buddies, which help people stay connected and safe to someone that's not there.
So they have a little bit cooler head about what's happening and can provide some kind of assistance necessary. My main reason for running is to ensure the security of our members. All of the other candidates have brought up very good points and have wonderful ideas about how to make this chapter better. What I would say is we are at an inflection point, as was mentioned, but none of our work isn't going to be as effective if our members aren't safe. And that includes on the ground and our data. As you know, while we're not right wing, things like parler and whatnot have been getting kicked off the Internet. And it's not it's historically been the case that leftists have been targeted by the government as well. And it's very important for us to recognize that our online presence, especially during the pandemic, is just as important as anything we do in person. And therefore, I'm very, very centered on making sure that we are secure. We're currently testing out a new platform that will replace FLAC.
We have a new platform that's going to be replacing Trello, Google Docs, Google Calendar, you name it. We're trying to replace it with something that is self hosted and either encrypted or very, very secure. Our CELAC replacement is encrypted.
So all of our messages are every message we send is encrypted and that means that people can't be hacking us. We've also. Put into place a single sign on. Which would mean that you would only need one thing to sign on to rent the red desk if you use the Red Desk and all the other services I mentioned, you just need that one.
And I would also point out that.
I would like to bring some reparations to the Piscataway people, and I apologize if I'm getting that pronunciation wrong. I would like to bring a new perspective on that, because I think it's something that we can actually do quite well. And lastly, I want to make sure that, like my other candidates, we have better representation of marginalized people of all kinds by being trans. And it gives me a particularly unique perspective, though I'm not the only trans identified person either on the committee or in the chapter, but I certainly want to bring that to the steering committee. And I hope that you will vote for me and consider my statements as well. I'm really screwing up and I hope you consider me for steering and I think.
Thanks so much, everybody. So now we'll open it up to everyone on the call for questions. If you have a question, just type stock and I will call on you.
And the questions can be directed at every candidate, or they can also be candidate specific, if you heard something or read something that you wanted more clarity on Zachary.
Yes, hello and thank you all for running for this position. I'm excited for whichever one of you ends up winning. But the question I'd like to ask is that DNA tends to be a very young and often college educated group of people. And if we're going to make inroads into the working class that we like, ostensibly represent, what do you think we need to do as an organization to to actually do that and to really not only be a advocate for working class policies, but help a class come into being and being the vehicle for that movement and whatever order you'd like to add to that end.
Or we called on, do we how how does that work again, do we just answer if we have an answer?
Yeah, we can we can work it out of, like a bunch of people talking at once, but I think we can just go ahead.
And then also just to clarify, but I typed in the chat, please try to keep the response to a minute so we can get to as many questions as possible and make sure everyone has a chance to speak. I will give a forty five second warning and then hard to cut off around one 30.
Well, thank you, Irene, thank you very much for that question.
I think that one of the solutions is and there are many solutions here, but one of them at least, would be through that political department, political team that I proposed, it would serve essentially as a vehicle to develop direct connections with activist organizations, even issue or address the needs of older voters that might be lean left, but might at the very least, appreciate our perspective, appreciate our participation, and that they can always contact us in some way. This is the sort of the the strategy that a lot of different Auxin and candidates have made in the past to really develop stakeholders across multiple a multiracial, multi generational sort of perspectives, multi issue things.
And so I do think that developing those connections, like, for example, I work with our evolution as well, and that work is actually primarily older voters or progressives with a primarily older.
And so we might benefit from doing a joint meeting of social or something like that that will help us sort of interact with what other or other perspectives and essentially get our reach further.
Frank, go ahead.
Yeah, so, yeah, thank you, Zack, this gets to the second point in my platform, which is racial justice and any conversation of how we become a mass organization in the district, Maryland and Virginia area requires an analysis that includes a strong affirmation of racial justice. We build upon the work of a lot of great organizers here in this region. Jesse Jackson served as a shadow senator for the District of Columbia. Julius Hobson was a council member. Hilda Mason was a DSA member and a member and a councilwoman, and Marion Barry was an organizer with Snik.
We can build upon the great radical black organizing tradition of our area. You know, we are one of the hearts of the black American politics and we need to understand that. So racial justice and actually talking about how are we interacting, as Diago says, how how are we interacting coalitional? How are we recruiting? How are we retaining? How are we developing leadership? How can we actually change the composition of who we have organized? Because currently we are a self or we are self-interested organization. And by that I mean we all took the affirmative step. Most of us probably saw something online and said, oh, I think I am in line with the politics. I want to join the USA and be part of that movement. But what we need to be going towards is a mass party organization model where people actually see us as a vehicle to achieve real changes in their life, not not in the long, distant future in some sort of 130. Thank you. But but really in this moment.
Thank you. Next stop.
Zachary, thank you so much for the question. I'm glad you wrote it in the chat as well. So one of the things I want to make make clear here is while being college educated is nice, it's not the basis for any it's not necessarily the basis for being socialist. And I think if we can make our platforms and our policy goals a little bit more accessible and not so based in ten dollar words, I think we can we can do a better job of.
Getting not necessarily college educated people in our movement, and I would I want to echo what freight's that Frank was saying we should really take a page from organizations like the Black Panthers and and other great groups like that so that we can grow our movement into something a little bit more diverse and at the end of the day. And working class.
I'll go, thank you for the question. So I think, first of all, it's not exactly racist in his question. It's not enough to just say that we want to represent working class folks or being an advocate. I think it's very important to also actively recruit them. We want them to be part of an organization, part of a movement, part of our activities. So I think that's very important. And while we are doing that, we should actually present a plan or goals regarding more working class involvement to the people we're recruiting.
And this is something I did when I was in Mississippi. Bernie Victory Captain, we were actively looking for working class folks to join in rather than just are for working class folks. So does that. And just shown that D'Sa is in solidarity. You see all these shows up, a lot of events across the spectrum, but we just show up like working class events because I know like Bernie actually started here before you ran in twenty sixteen. He was testing the waters. I love that term. I recently learned it. So he actually started Mississippi by going to like a union thing there. That's we started this thing. And I was so surprised by all the working class support in Jackson, Mississippi. That's where I lived previously. So, yeah. So this go to the root of it, actively recruiting them on doing that.
And lastly, this is an old kind of old chapter, and this one's been here since like twenty seventeen.
But different forms of it have existed. So I think we have a lot of, I don't know, alumni's the word legacy. I want to mess it up. People would be in this chapter so we can actively charge them, taught them how they recruited working class folks and work towards a policy in the 80s, 90s.
And that's one thirty.
Thank you. Sorry to cut you off, OK.
Yeah. Thanks for the question, Zakari. Next on stock is Curtis. So you can ask your question and then if you can just take it in the chat as well.
Perfect. I've already written and typed up, I'm going to provide some context. Read it out, put it in, and then I think I mean, as you mentioned it. Yeah, if we could just do stack from the candidates in the chat, that might help. So the context here, in December, we passed new bylaws. This was something that like 90 percent, if not running 99 percent of the chapter passed the voting chapter passed in the convention. And the new steering committee member would be tasked with kind of following what we've been doing now, which is implementing the new bylaw rules, putting into place the structures and the different pieces that have been mandated by the the chapter. So my question for all of you is, what are your general thoughts about the new bylaws with follow up questions? What are the strongest parts and what do you believe could be improved?
Frank, you can go ahead.
I know I was I was very happy to serve with Curtis on the Bylaws Reform Commission, I've also worked on two iterations of the bylaws in Montgomery County, which were the basis for the bylaws in Prince George's County. So I definitely am a nerd for the procedural aspects of being on the steering committee. And I think the strongest part is and this is a great question, is the fact that they were built on consensus that that that we really listen to a variety of different viewpoints with a lot of different ideological underpinnings, and we try to figure out what a middle path could be that really our whole chapter could get behind. And as Curtis noted, you know, they passed about ninety eight to three, and that's really due to the hard work of the committee. Some other committee members are also here actually listening to members, taking their feedback into account. When people want had things that they want to change, we had to do it together. So that is really the most important part. I think the weakest part of any bylaw, not just these ones, but the weakest part of any anybody is that they're not self enforcing votes can be sometimes at best taking the opinion of people saying that this is a good idea, but you actually need the force of internal organizing. That would be the third part. What I want to accomplish in my term is internal organizing. We need to educate our entire membership on these new bylaws, every single portion of them, as if it was a union drive. We want to have real contact. Sending an email is nice, but we need to have relationships with every working group, every branch, and maintain them and grow them and support one another. So the people know how these bylaws are a tool to build upon their organizing, not regulations.
One thirty on them. Thank you so much for the question.
Thank you, Stephanie.
Curtis, great question, first of all, I want to thank the Bylaws Commission for creating such a comprehensive and frankly much simpler bylaws, if anyone is familiar with the old bylaws. They were they were quite bad. There were some even contradictory information in there. They were pretty poor. So I like to thank everyone for that. That's my general thought on them, the strongest parts, they think are the creation of suctions, actually, because they think that there is there are certain groups within DNA that don't currently have access to all the resources that they could and strengthening and strengthening that aspects and making sure that groups can easily create sections and actually encourage them to do so. It's something that I would definitely focus on on on the council or on the steering committee of society. And what I think can be improved is delineating a little bit better how working groups in different branches work with each other. I don't want to see US fractionalized, and I would like to see a lot of our working groups work together towards goals instead of being so piecemeal that we kind of waste we don't waste resources, but put them to better use.
So thank you, Nexxus Diego.
So I very much appreciate that question. I think it's very important, actually, and I find myself in broad agreement with what Frank and Stephanie have said already.
I do think it's important that in a democratic organization, a bylaw structure is not simply brought about by a few people working in obscurity and just kind of unleashing it out on the members. We had broad participation, broad sort of input, and I think that is going to lend us to lend a lot of strength to our organization moving forward. I do think that in order to ensure that those bylaws are adhere to and ensure that they that they are a strong, unifying force, I think we should use the mentorship process I brought up earlier to ensure that there is wide adherence and understanding of our bylaws with every member coming in. It's obviously that's not going to be the very first thing that they tell them, but something that they get informed of over time, that mentorship process. I also do agree with the need to increase our working group collaboration by essentially ensuring that their work is being aired across all four channel, that there's wide understanding across the whole chapter, not just those branches or all those working groups of what they're doing. There's universal understanding of information so that they can have proper collaboration going forward. And I think that's something that should be sort of structural to put into our bylaws structure.
That's one 30. Thank you. Thank you. Next is Bruno.
First of all, thank you, Curtis, for the great question and thank you to everybody who contributed to this wonderful document.
So I think, in my opinion, the strongest parts were it happened while the document was being put together. We have mass involvement, people from all the branches, new members, all members. Everyone felt that they had a document they could contribute their voice to.
That was amazing seeing everybody talking about what they want and then it will come together, work into a middle ground. I hate the term, but. Making doctrine that works best for everybody. So thank you for that. What I think could be improved is go back, step up.
I like how it outlines how working groups, caucuses, committees can be supported is wonderful. All the information is out there, but it's not very clear how we can get access to it. I think Stephanie brought that up, too. So it would be awesome if steering members could personally reach out to working groups or other formations about how we can implement, implement or make use of all these available resources. Then another thing is what I personally experience was I had a question actually when the new bylaws came out and then I reached out a state member and I didn't really get clarity on how about the bylaws? And then I was confused. And then I saw some hypocrisy because I was asked to take out a post. And then I was like, what about this other person? But I never got a response and stuff like that. So, yeah. So I think improving clarity provided from steering members to everybody else in the chapter on Leya. That's how I think we can all sorry.
That's one 30. Sorry to tell you.
Ok, next, we have Daniel on stock with a question.
Dana, would you like me to read it out or would you want to?
So Danielle's question is, what will be your top priority if you're elected to the steering committee with a focus on speaking to concrete goals that can be achieved in the six month short term to a year to take advantage of the political moment we're in?
So if people can get on stock to answer your question, Stephanie, go ahead.
Daniel, thank you for the question, I'm really glad you asked it. One of the things that I think we can achieve in the in the short term is shoring up our security. Like I said, that's one of the main reasons I'm running.
And I think that because of all the work that's already gone into shoring up our digital security, we can definitely take the next steps in creating an environment where everyone's safe.
Both their data and the conversations that we're having online as well are or working documents are are organizing documents, our meetings, all of those things can be secured. And as well as creating relationships with groups to ensure some more physical security during protests was protesting, is not going to stop. The fascists aren't going away.
And I I've thankfully gotten a very good report as far as that's concerned. And I have to tell you, we have a lot of work to do to make sure that the fires don't get the better of us.
Sorry, next is Diego, if you are much I mean, I think that one priority that's very important that will essentially allow us to take care of the all the other priorities that I expect to to be mentioned before after on this is that I believe we need to institute that mentorship process.
I've mentioned earlier as quickly as possible. There's a time is of the essence in regards to all these new members that we perceive through our recent membership drive and really making sure that all of them who may have simply signed up aren't active participants yet. It took me a few months to become an active participant when I first joined. We need to go out and reach out to them and start bringing them into our organization to increase our manpower and to increase our ability to transfer to other platforms to bolster the work of branches are doing, et cetera, et cetera. I think that part of that could be we can make a talent, a mentorship pool of people that will encourage people to add their names to and especially for people who might be longtime members of the organization.
It give them a chance essentially to meet a new person, a new chapter member, new comrade, and really get them involved. I think it's a good social opportunity and a good opportunity to increase our manpower and our effectiveness as north of the border.
And we can do that very quickly. So that's what I'm asking for, to accomplish our other priorities. Thank you. OK, next up is real cool.
Thank you for the great question.
I think something I told my priorities, especially thanks to new priority campaign process and the opportunity to do that would be to the.
So once the five priority campaigns are decided, I think will be important for working groups to cut and caucuses, other formations to come together and kind of back each other, because like I mentioned earlier, it's great when we can all come together and work towards fighting against the same institutional roadblocks. So that would be a priority for me. More increased collaboration across the chapter. And then obviously thanks the recent resolution and the.
The debate that happened during the.
The convention, slack and whatnot, it was brought racial justice issues were brought to the forefront. So I think I would definitely work with members of this chapter to kind of bring back that resolution to to do with reparations for indigenous communities and including a land based on a land acknowledgement and beginning of each other formation. So I think that's enough forefront. I think we should all actively work together to kind of bring a resolution to the front of its supporters. We all work together and bring it back. That's a second priority. And then the last thing, third top priority would be making sure that we always play a bigger role in onboarding new members, because thanks to the recent recruitment drive, we have all these people. So I think this act on it now, let's make sure all the time and everyone know.
Sorry about that. Thank you. If you want to just type the rest of that thought into the chat. Feel free. Next is Frank.
I believe Stephanie unsnap, I don't I don't know, Stephanie was on Stacho she my first or. Yeah, sorry.
So yes this is also a good question and I will say I have to disagree a little bit with some of the other candidates. I do think that member mobilization is absolutely an important task and I know our administrative committee is already working towards that end, but I don't actually think it's on a timeline of the next three to six months of being able to fully engage people with a member mobilization program. Once we set priorities, I think we need to focus on those campaigns. And, you know, there's a variety of different efforts that we can get involved with, including defund efforts. Obviously, canceling rent the green new deal is going to be top priority. Labor solidarity. These are all incredible efforts that our chapter are undertaking. So I want to say that in the next six months, we can't just be focused on internal organizing. Those need to be longer and continuous processes. But what we really need to be focusing is on the work of our endorsed campaigns. One campaign that there might be an opportunity and one thing that we should explore, I think would definitely be engaging with the congressional debate on D.C. statehood. We don't know where it's going to land, but I think that by centering that fight, we can tie in people's minds the fact that DSA is going to fight for socialism, which includes democracy and D.C. statehood as well. So I think that we need to find priority campaigns. If there is an interest in organizing around D.C. statehood, that would be one that I would be interested in. But that wouldn't be the only thing that we need to be doing. Remember, mobilizing should definitely start now, but it should continue well beyond the the six month timeframe.
Thank you. Next stop on stop with a question is Stuart. So if you want to just read out your question and then type in the chat.
You know, let me read a couple of sentences of background from my question. There we go.
All right. So it's a long question, but I'm separated out sort of the background with the two questions that I do have. It's like a two part question. So from time to time, the steering committee needs to make political decisions about the chapters activity rather than just serving as a purely administrative body. And I think Frank touched on a good point here in that we're going to have priority campaigns, which means that some campaigns will get mobilisations when others won't, and they might be events that fall in the same day. Or you might have a canvass one day, an event in another day, and it's just happening at the same time. And so the steering committee will need to decide and prioritize resources. These are political decisions, not just purely administrative decisions. And members of the steering committee are also going to have to serve on the political engagement committee, which will issue yes or no recommendations about whether the chapter should endorse candidates that are seeking our chapter's endorsement. So my questions are these. Do you agree with the steering committee as role as a political body? And how will you handle these political questions that will inevitably come up during the next few months?
So Stephanie is first on stock.
Start a great question, first of all, I want to say just right out the gate that I do agree with the steering committee through all the political body. We have an ad, we have an administration committee already.
So that kind of stuff should be taken care of by by by them. Since I'm on that committee, how would I handle those kind of political questions? I would want to evaluate what's best for the chapter as a whole and try to leave as much of my bias at the door as possible.
I realize that's a pretty milquetoast answer, but since I don't know what questions will come up, I can't really speak to any particular candidate or the one. But I do want to make sure that our candidates are very much in line with social values. And while someone may not be completely in line with my own values, personally, whatever my politics, I want to make sure that they go are very much in line with our work and that candidates understand that being endorsed by DSA has weight and that they should fight for the things that we want to fight for.
Next step is Frank.
Absolutely, this is something that we've had to address in the Montgomery County branch a lot know obviously we don't have, you know, as we are a political body when you're on steering because you don't have the luxury to be able to get a fully fleshed out debate and poll on where a membership will fall in the moment. So, you know, obviously, we need to follow the recommendations of our body, of our other of our superior bodies, the general body and the convention between meetings. But we do have a lot of discretion and we do have to interpret the bylaws and interpret the understandings as well. So when it comes to endorsing candidates, we really need to focus on candidates where we where we think we can have a maximal impact.
Now, that can be either in terms of actually winning the race, that is one form of maximal impact or building relationships and building skills and our own organizational skills. We had a very robust debate and I know all four of our candidates here supported Karishma Amatus endorsement. But one reason why I saw that as very important was because I was talking to branch leaders on the ground on the steering committee, and they were enthusiastic about that endorsement. And I felt that we needed to give them that opportunity to learn how to engage on the second part of the question. I'm sorry, Stu. It's a I don't get extra time for this two part question. Unfortunately, when when these political questions come up, you know, it is important that we try to make sure that we are in line with the membership. But we do have to always you know, I will never hold a steering member who has been democratically elected by the whole membership.
You know, responsible for a good faith decision that they make, we have to make hard, tough times, but if you want to finish your chapter, next is.
So I really appreciate Frank bringing up the XMA endorsement because I was really happy to work very closely alongside, of course, Mel, wonderful Bernie Victory captains in organizing in Northern Virginia.
And so I totally understand that the reasoning of yes, there are two important considerations to be made in regards to whether that they can win, but also whether we can build coalitions around candidates on those that we endorse.
And so I do think that it does make sense to have the steering committee as a as a political body.
I think that, as I mentioned earlier, certain aspects of what it means to be a political body can be delegated to a separate local committee that can work on developing those long term relationships with with candidates and other organizations by being those points of contact.
But I think that ultimately, yes, the steering committee does it is the responsibility of the steering committee to take into consideration what the needs and wants of memberships are of the membership is by making themselves very accessible to them.
But ultimately, I do agree with me that there is a consideration there on Lugazi, the steering committee remaining a full body. I don't think it's possible really to be apolitical in this sense, but we should delegate some of those responsibilities and be more open to membership in that time.
Thank you. Next is not.
Thank you for the question.
First of all, yes, I agree with the question and I agree with the student committee's role as a political body, but somehow I would go about making sure that the most voices are considered our opinions and consider why we have such questions of endorsement in front of us. We all know that steering committee meetings are open to all. And so I would like to emphasize that folks come to that.
What let's say when you do vote on a working group endorsing a working group action or putting a statement on that, we need to make it clear and I kind of emphasize the folks are welcome to come the steering committee meetings and kind of make the case, make their voices heard. So I want to make sure that happens. So we're hearing all the different options and opinions while we're considering this. So I would do that with that same approach, with both those kinds of things and even political endorsement questions, just making sure we hear everything. I want to make sure that the folks who presented it feel like they had a chance to say all they could before a decision was made.
That's all I have to say. Thank you.
Next up, we have Michael B with a question.
Ok, thanks, Irene, and I want to thank all the candidates, everyone here to see this kind of also feels generally just kind of like an organizing meeting. I mean, we're thinking about the future of the chapter and what direction we want to go. So I appreciate just all this conversation and all of us collectively thinking about that. Yeah. And so I kind of pose just three questions. You can kind of take them whatever direction you want to go, but it's kind of raising. How do you feel the chapter relates to national politics? So you could be thinking about kind of just the discourse at large, you know, where's what's the safest place in the national political scene? Then thinking about the national organization of the DSA, there's upcoming convention, the summer, which I think people will start to organize around through the spring. So what's your orientation towards that? And then we're in the capital. And so we have a unique role to play in terms of building connections with chapters across the country and helping be representative of the politics at the federal level as we have a world to win very quickly. So take those questions in whichever direction you think makes sense.
Thank you, Michael, for that great question.
I want to say that how we relate to the national organization, first of all, is that we are one of many model chapters for a lot of smaller organizing committees. I've worked with Greater Baltimore, DSA and now the Southern Maryland Organizing Committee. And they look up to us. They look up to our elected officials, Gabriel, Severo, Vaughn, Stewart. They look up to our candidates.
They look up to our working groups like Stomp Out Slumlords. We really are a model chapter in so many different ways that have, you know, that other chapters try to emulate in their own organizing because they have to do a lot with sometimes over much larger areas are much larger or much more hostile populations, to be honest.
So how we should relate to National is that we need to make sure that we're always advocating to help build out those other allied organizations or those other other chapters throughout the country, making sure that other chapters have the resources that they need. But we have a strong regional and and then national framework that allows newer chapters to engage, to partner and collaborate. I will say that I want to be cautious about our relationship to other chapters when it comes to federal actions. Obviously, a lot of our members do not have federal representation and there's only so much that we can influence with protests that can sometimes be symbolic. I think that it needs to be rooted in the one hand, you know, building power as a national organization that can apply pressure on our federal government. On the other hand, we need to stay focused on our local mobilization as well as the local working class here.
Ok, thank you. Next to Stephanie.
First of all, I want to thank you for the question, Michael. It's a great one. I can I think I can roll this question up pretty well as I don't need to repeat what Frank said. I think what he said about our relationship to nationals. True. However, one of the things that I would want to bring to National is a resolution to change the makeup of the National Steering Committee to be composed entirely of steering committee members from the other chapters around the country, specifically because that would give all that would bring all of the chapters together. It would give us all a common purpose. So don't give us the opportunity to have a common vision.
And on top of that, I think it would be very important for us to really think about being connected to our comrades on the West Coast, in the south, up north, and having our having on the steering committee members comprise National would reorient all of our priorities.
And I think it would make our work on the top level much, much easier because we would probably end up having more support for national, I also think five Nationals overall structure. Hopefully that answers majority question and I only.
Well, first of all, thank you, Michael, for the question.
First of all, to answer the question of how this chapter fits into the national political scene and as we said, yeah, people definitely exists, although we have chapters and formations in every 50 states. And the D.C. social media post called it the D.C.. So from my personal experience, obviously, when we had the fight for our lives a couple of months ago, I know that was part of efforts happening all across the country. So that was like fight for the lives action or similarly named actions happening all across different D.C. chapters. So we were all kind of working together and supporting each other, reaching each other's social media posts, kind of saying, we're there for you, solidarity. We're going to signal a boost. You I'm going to live with you. So I think a good thing for us to do is kind of keep continue to do that, try to attend maybe a lot of the national discourse where we have folks from all the different chapters and formations come together just kind of each every chapter kind of telling each other that we can support it with resources, be social media or signal boosting and things like that.
And I guess that's what I was hoping, there's something else for me to say.
Yeah, let's me.
And then Diego.
Well, thank you very much, Michael, for that question. I also want to thank you all for mentioning that.
Yes, I think it's important that also the chapel, we use our social media platforms to essentially signal boost the other chapters there near our region that are across the country, because there is that symbolic aspect, as Frank mentioned, that we are at the Capitol and we're sitting sort of at the top, the core of the imperial empire. So it's important to express, you know, remind remind the country that, yes, we're organizing here, too. And that's actually something that I prioritize as I have managed to Instagram is making sure that I'm boosting those other orders and trying to develop social media relationships with them. On the Michael also mentioned, asked about how I believe we should reform our policies in regards to our relationship with National, how other chapters should be structured around National, I agreed with some Stephanides ideas and I mean asked a question like that actually in our election. And so I wrote a fairly detailed answer of my thoughts on that that I wanted to post in the chat. So basically because there's not a lot of time to answer all the questions. But yeah. And Frank also mentioned that I think that it's important that ultimately we do we don't lose sight of the fact that we don't have a federal representation here in D.C. So we have to be focused in and show leadership when we show that, hey, we're not just doing looking at these broad national issues, but we are looking at issues that are local, specific, and the other branches you can do that to in order to develop in your relationships with your community.
And that's time. OK, thank you. So actually, it seems like we're coming up on time, so you probably don't have time for another question. But if all of the candidates just want to give like a thirty to forty five second final closing statement, we do. We should have time for that. So I will start with just again, whoever is at the top of my screen. So first is Frank.
Well, I want to thank everyone for joining us today to quote Eugene Debs, what little that I am, what little that I hope to be, I owe to the socialist movement.
And having these discussions among comrades is really what matters, the fact that we are forwarding these debates. So I want to bring my experiences, branch leader, to this chapter of leadership forming, offering leadership on Renshon, regional integration, fighting for racial justice inside, in and around organization and building internal organization to make sure that our bylaws are understood and seen as tools for our members to advance their common collective agenda. Thank you so much. I look forward to the forum tomorrow and I thank my opponents for a great discussion.
Next is Stephanie, I'll do a 30 second warning just so everyone can keep track.
So, again, thanks, everyone, for showing up. I'm really glad we were able to have this debate. Are my my fellow candidates brought up really good points and it'll be fun to discuss them more during Alcorn's meeting tomorrow. I just want to reiterate that all the work we do is not only vital, but needs to be secure. And I'm your candidate for that. So I sincerely hope that you are willing to give me a chance and I will work as hard as I possibly can if elected. Thanks so much.
I just want to start with saying a sincere thank you to everyone who's participating in this in this forum, who has attended, who asked questions and all of my fellow candidates, because this is exactly.
During the discussion, we need to be having to.
And our position and I'm thankful for the good work that each and every community, I ask that you vote for me in this election, but win or lose. I pledge to continue to work my ass off for this organization and to put my skills at the fullest possible use, as with my local experience, so that we as an can continue to move ever forward for the goal of achieving socialism. This goal is possible within our lifetime, but only if we work for it. It's now or never socialism or barbarism. So let's do it.
So could you cut out for probably like 15 seconds there? Sorry if that kind of does that off the cuff, but if you'd like to go, I'd go again. You're welcome to.
If you don't want to, that's unfortunate, I have a little bit of a oh, I'll go, I guess what what part did I cut off on to say this about the middle?
Ok, I just ask that you vote for me in this election, but win or lose, I pledge to continue to work my ass off for this work and put in into place my skills at the fullest possible use so that we as an all can continue to move ever forward with the goal of building socialism and advancing socialism.
I believe truly that this goal is possible in our lifetime, but it's only possible if we work together. So it's now or never socialism or barbarism.
Let's do it. Thank you very much for your support. Consideration.
And then last we have right now, I wanted to start off by quoting Eugene Debs to say thanks, you publicly probably said that the folks at some point want to do that.
But yeah, thanks to everybody who is here and all the comrades opponents I attended today, I just wanted to emphasize that I'm a socialist. It's important to say that. And I'm dedicated to racial and economic justice, progressive values. And I have a deep commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion. And I'm also dedicated towards building this chapter's power and are part of part of a movement in general is having more discipline of our elected officials advocating for increasingly radical positions. And lastly, I just want to say that I'm extroverted, I'm friendly, and I excel in warming up, warming people up, people up and making them feel welcome. So I think this will make me a really good addition to the steering committee because it will help new members feel like they always have someone they can connect with to get involved again.
Thank you all. And I look forward to more of these events.
Thank you, everybody, for joining us for everyone on the call, if you're not already in the channel for this special election, please join. There's been a lot of great like longer form discussion and answers to questions happening in there. I'll type in the channel and the track. And people have their statement, like longer statements penned in there, there's going to be like an ad for him tomorrow. So if you have any other questions for the candidates that we didn't get to tonight, you can definitely feel free to ask them offline or in the channel.
So that's all. And we'll post them, according to this, into the member portal. Thanks, everyone. Have a good rest your night.
Thank you, everyone, solidarity.
Stephanie, do you know how to do the recording thing? I've never actually like. No, no, no. OK, cool. They're actually going to send it directly to Ryan, that would be great. I'm sorry, I should know how to do this, but I know if I can tell to.
Thank you. Madian Brendan.
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