These statements were provided by the candidates to outline their background and vision for their respective officer positions. For descriptions of the roles of each position, click here.
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Hi everyone. I’m Frances (she/her). I’m running for co-chair of the chapter. Over the last three years, I’ve served in local and national leadership positions in DSA, and I’ve represented our chapter as a delegate to the national DSA Convention twice.
The intensity and uncertainty of our current political moment is like nothing most of us have ever seen before. With Bernie’s loss, the Left suffered a historic defeat. Simultaneously, the pandemic emerged, laying bare deep inequity and instability within our society and our health care system. A month later, Black uprisings across the country pushed politics forward in ways that we have barely begun to fully feel out. Things are moving and shifting around us with incredible speed. We hardly have time to think about the next day, let alone the next year.
But we have to stop and face the big questions, or we’ll spin our wheels until we are too exhausted to go on. What is the role of a socialist organization in New Orleans? What are the material and political conditions that constrain us, and where can we intervene most effectively to transcend those constraints? Where are our opportunities; what are our strengths? No one can answer these questions alone. We have to grapple with them collectively, in a process that will require a culture of trust and camaraderie, an engaged and empowered general membership that reflects working class New Orleans, a shared understanding of our political context, forums for political debate that are accessible and safe, and a disciplined optimism. To that end, as co-chair, I want to prioritize:
- Strengthening our chapter’s internal culture and processes by implementing:
- A chapter-wide Code of Conduct and a robust Harassment & Grievance process that can proactively keep members safe and generate a culture of trust, respect, honesty, and kindness
- A robust anti-racism educational program that includes varied opportunities for discussion, readings, trainings, and reflection on concrete ways we can combat white supremacy and patriarchy in our organizing spaces and beyond
- Monthly (not bimonthly) General Meetings to allow for greater input from the membership on the political direction of the chapter
- A Membership Committee that is tasked with leading membership engagement and recruitment, facilitating organizer trainings, building leadership development trainings for emerging Black and brown leaders within the chapter, and working with the DSA National Translation Team to translate our materials into Spanish.
- Campaigns and projects that create opportunities for us to build working class power alongside Black and brown workers and with Black-led organizations, such as:
- Defunding and disarming the police in Orleans and surrounding parishes
- Pressuring electeds to declare racism a public health crisis and to articulate Medicare for All as the most powerful policy tool that can address racial health disparities
- Joining the Sunrise Movement’s efforts to pass Green New Deal resolutions in cities and parishes across Louisiana
- Building out a strong mobilization infrastructure that can provide rapidly deployed protest solidarity in the form of street medics, trained marshals, protest supplies and AV equipment, and more
- Building, strengthening, and centering our chapter’s labor organizing work by:
- Supporting and growing the City Waste Union’s unionizing efforts
- Creating more training opportunities for workers interested in organizing their workplaces
- Recruiting workers into our national sectoral organizing networks, such as the DSA Restaurant Organizing Project or the DSA Health Workers Collective, and supporting the development of local formations of these national industrial caucuses
Lastly, I want to highlight the fact that I’m a founding member of our chapter. Things might seem chaotic and impossible now, both within and outside our organization. But three years ago, this chapter was basically a half a dozen people in someone’s backyard trying to figure out which brake light bulbs to buy. Since then, we’ve grown to over 300 members, run two electoral campaigns, organized countless health fairs and brake light clinics, passed a City Council resolution, entered into powerful local coalitions, and struggled through intense conflict together. We need honest reckonings about our limitations, our blind spots, and our weaknesses. But we don’t need to—and can’t, in good conscience—lose hope.
I’m Benjamin (he/him). I’m an unemployed service industry worker, a comedian, and a lifelong leftist. I grew up in The Twin Cities of Minnesota and have lived in New Orleans for the past six years. I stay in the 7th Ward. I’ve been an active member of New Orleans DSA since its creation in 2017. I’ve served as a co-chair of the Direct Service Committee for the past two years, and I’ve served on The Local Council as Direct Service Steward for the past year. I’ve helped organize campaigns, fundraising drives, designed and led organizer trainings, chaired meetings, knocked doors, spoke publicly on behalf of the organization, and changed brake light after brake light at our clinics. Without question, being a part of this chapter has transformed the way I see the world. The more deeply entrenched in the fight for a better world you become, the more strangers start to look like comrades; the more the fight looks not only necessary, but winnable.
When people ask me what DSA is, I could tell them that we are an organization with a mission to expand democracy where it exists and create it where it doesn’t. I could tell them we are here to fight within the working class to free ourselves from the tyranny of the rich. What I usually say is that we’re an organization where people who want to help their city and the world can come to be supported whether they need guidance or they need people to help make their vision a reality.
As Co-Chair, I will work to:
- Make it a priority that this organization is a safe, welcoming, powerful, inclusive, actively anti-racist, and joyful environment where any and every member can have the full force of our collective efforts behind them
- Work alongside Black-led organizations and activists on a long term campaign to defund and disarm the police in Orleans and Surrounding Parishes by pushing for the formation of a strong enough coalition to do so
- Create a leadership development program within our chapter, specifically focused on addressing the lack of Black and brown elected leaders in our organization
- Develop a strategy that allows our committees to both carry out their own campaigns and projects, and also to serve as wings of the chapter, helping it to act cohesively as one entity on chapter wide campaigns and projects
- Help grow our chapter in strength and numbers by integrating workplace organizing, neighborhood organizing, and political education into all of our efforts
- Encourage a new, intentional media strategy from our chapter designed to further amplify our message
- Center the understanding that solidarity comes from shared struggle; that the working class must be liberated through the shared struggle of defeating white supremacy, patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and all other divisive tools of the capitalist class
Hey everyone. My name is Sean Duplantier and I use he/him pronouns. I am a middle school math teacher in Jefferson Parish and proud member of Jefferson Federation of Teachers. I’ve been a member of DSA New Orleans since October of 2019 and I am the current Internal Mobilizer of our labor committee, WPL. I was born and raised in New Orleans, Chilly Gentilly to be specific. My family has a long history of organizing. From Homer Plessy, who changed the course of racial justice in the US, to my grandfather who fought many years with the Orleans Parish Teachers union, organizing runs in the family.
We are at a critical moment in our chapter’s history. Despite the limitations of the current pandemic, the chapter has done amazing work, including but not limited to, the Convention Center Campaign, where we built a huge coalition with like minded organizations in the city, the Medicare for All bill passed by New Orleans City Council, the Direct Service committee working closely with GNOCC who’s feeding families across the city, the creation of the Political Education, Anti Racist, and CWU Support working groups, and somehow being able to navigate this new mainly online space.
However, the chapter has internal struggles that need to be addressed. With the resurgence of Black Lives Matter movement, we need to reflect on and correct how our chapter, and all structures we occupy for that matter, perpetuates the very same systems of oppression that we fight so hard against. Racism being the most violent sin of capitalism, we have a responsibility as socialists to our comrades to undo and eliminate racism in all of its forms. In addition, due to the sense of urgency for many of the causes in which we stand in solidarity, many of our most capable organizers are left burnt out and unable to engage membership and build leadership. Finally more recent events have revealed a noticeable disconnect between Local Council and General Membership.
I am running for Membership Chair position, and if elected, I plan to take on these struggles with the help of General Membership and the Local Council. As stated in the Chapter Officer Roles Description document, the Membership Chair is “most focused on the well-being and organization of our chapter membership.” To that effect, when a resolution or proposal is submitted to or by the Local Council, I will ask these three questions: “How will this proposal engage members? How can we make sure that this work is sustainable for our members? How will this proposal build leadership?” As a democratic membership based organization, our biggest resource is our members and we must sustainably activate and grow our members every chance we have if we want to create an organization that outlasts our capacity to organize.
And when membership is exhausted and unable to attend Local Council meetings, I will remind our officers to consider membership’s capacity before launching anything that will demand more from our already stretched members. To maintain a relationship with our members, I will continue being a presence and recognizable face in meetings of various committees and working groups and coordinating closely with our stewards to better assess the needs of our members. Lastly a strong membership is not simply built from the top down, and so I plan on working with groups like social socialists to continue to provide spaces where networks and friendships among our comrades can flourish.
To help delegate the more traditional roles of this position, the mobilizing team, which is charge of introducing new members to the chapter and plugging them into current projects or campaigns, I will formalize their currently informal working relationship to Membership Chair with the creation of a Membership Committee that would be tasked to:
● Welcome and onboard new members of the chapter, involving them in work that is most relevant to them.
● Recruit current or former phone bankers throughout the chapter and its working groups and committees, prioritizing enlisting members from all spaces in the chapter, so that this essential work does not rely on only a few members.
● Build comradery and leadership within the newly formed committee by not simply sending these members spreadsheets of numbers to call, but by also hosting phone bank zoom calls.
● Work closely with the Anti Racist Working Group to ensure that we provide a welcoming experience for all people and continue to build a chapter that is representative of the city in which it exists.
For far too long, the Membership Chair has been seen as the master of lists, someone you approached for curating a list of names that your team can reach out to. While that role is still important, the position is needed and capable of much more if we delegate and empower our members with some of these responsibilities. If you elect me, I hope to bring your voice to the Local Council, energize our untapped membership and assemble a new group of leaders that will take our chapter to the next level of class consciousness.
My name is Amanda (She/Her/They/Them) and I’m running for Membership Chair. I’m a New Orleans native that grew up around the Lakeview area and currently live in Metairie. I’ve been an active member of DSA for about two years now. Like many people, my entire world view was shaken with the election of Donald Trump, and I was lucky to have a partner who introduced me to New Orleans DSA. This allowed me to learn what it means to be a socialist and shake off any negative connotations I had with being vocal when it comes to politics and challenging authority. I believe in our messaging and mission fully, and now know how to express this to family, friends, co-workers, and people I met every day in this city.
A lot of that knowledge and confidence has come from working within our mobilizers program—as both a mobilizer and helping coordinate cycles—for most of my time in DSA. Having one-on-one conversations with those newly interested in organizations like ours is crucial to growing and evolving our membership to accurately reflect our city. At our last convention, we voted to have a focus on growing and diversifying our membership. This still needs to be an ongoing focus for our chapter.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests open larger conversations about systemic changes that need to happen in our country; it also spikes interest in DSA with signups sometimes doubling and tripling within a few days. I want to see our mobilizers program to continue to evolve into a more rapidly responding program when spikes like those happen. Keeping people waiting for information for weeks at a time can affect their interest or make us as an organization look like we are not interested in welcoming new members. We must continue to develop a welcoming committee to help keep new members engaged and get them plugged into further work with committees and working groups. Maintaining lists and cutting them for certain tasks needs to become a clearer and more centralized process as well. This work needs to have as much transparency as possible while maintaining the privacy and safety of our members.
With other information and developments that have come about, I want to affirm that I will do my best to act as an unbiased party should I need to be called to break a tie between the co-chairs. There is a heightened need for transparency with regards to the Local Council, and, should I be elected, I want to be able to push for those changes so our general membership feels involved and informed when it comes to decisions the LC makes. This incoming Local Council has a lot of work to do immediately that will shape the future of our chapter, and I hope I can be given the opportunity to make those changes happen. I believe in our membership fully and thank you for your consideration.
Hi! My name is Lori Di Giovanni, and I’m a lifelong resident of the New Orleans metro area. I live in Gentilly with my daughter Theda and our cats Stella (CeCe) and Luna. I have been an active member of DSA New Orleans since the 2019 convention. While I’ve always leaned to the left politically, being a single parent and having to navigate that with lack of support made me realize how important social justice is. Having housing insecurity, job insecurity, low wages, and lack of medical coverage makes it impossible to provide a trauma-free environment for children, therefore perpetuating the unfortunate cycle. I want to build an organization that addresses these issues, especially in the way they affect the Black community in combination with systemic racism.
I am strong-willed, eager to learn, passionate, curious, and look forward to the possibility of serving as Secretary of DSA and the Local Council. Thank you so much for this opportunity.
My name is James P. and I am a candidate for Treasurer. Originally from Florida, I moved to New Orleans in 2009. I joined New Orleans DSA in 2016. I’ve worked as a chef for over 20 years, and that is plenty of time to get angry at the cruelty my brave and essential food industry siblings suffer at the hands of capitalist barbarism. I have done organizing work with DSA and New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee. Organizing has taught me so much about myself, but I’m most grateful to my comrades for teaching me humility. Growing up as a white male in America, humility does not come standard.
Our chapter is also growing up and the world is not going to wait for us. I am excited about the growth of our membership and, if elected, I will work closely with our Treasury Trustees and Local Council to support our organizing efforts and keep our chapter growing. By being honest in critique of ourselves and earnest in our work, I know New Orleans DSA can grow in a way that is respectful of everyone. Thank you for your consideration, stay safe!
I’m Nadia Eskildsen, and I am running for Council Member At-Large. I have lived in New Orleans for 13 years. I am the coordinator of the New Orleans Syringe Access Program, a needle exchange that provides harm reduction materials as well as healthcare services and referrals for people who inject drugs. I am a first generation american, and black queer woman who grew up in the south and I am committed to the fight for power and autonomy for all peoples, especially through the liberation of the working class. New Orleans DSA is at a critical place in not only its own evolution, but during a time of unprecedented uprisings globally and at home. This is a time of reckoning and our chapter must have our house in order. Accountability to ourselves and to this city is paramount. This is why as an At-Large Local Council Member it will be my priority to collaborate with others to create protocols and systems that allow for all of us to work together without unacknowledged conflict or pain festering and stymying not only our goals but our care for each other. It will also be my priority that these protocols will be transparent and easily accessible to all members.
We must acknowledge our shortcomings and errors to grow and grow stronger as an organization. Growth can be painful. It can be uncomfortable. But by pulling back the veil on the mistakes of the past, we allow ourselves to move forward into the future. I must say this plainly, that future will be the working class. And the working class of this city is black. If we want to be the vanguards of a new anti-capitalist world in our hearts, we must focus on collaborative roles for our organization alongside and supporting the people who made this city what it is. In building our membership, it must be a foregone conclusion that our organization must reflect the wants, desires, and demographics of the place we live. I am a transplant. A lot of you are transplants. We have to acknowledge our place in this struggle with open hearts and humble strength. My second priority as Council Member At-Large will be to work with others in our chapter’s POC caucus to be an organization that prioritizes the struggles of Black and brown workers but Black and brown locals specifically. Those with homes and families here and in the post-Katrina diaspora.
Lastly and in summation I believe that alongside my soon-to-be fellow Local Council Members we have the ability to improve the capacity, effectiveness, and strength of this organization. We will need to assess the way campaigns currently operate, siloed off into committees and causing undue pressure and burnout on a select few, while isolating many in general membership who want nothing more than to be more active but find it difficult to comprehend the byzantine ins and outs of our chapterwork. I am committed to working with others to create a more sustainable model—much of the groundwork has been laid but there is more to be done. By healing the very real harm that has occurred here and moving forward with practical goals for actively anti-racist and inclusive membership growth we will allow for a space that all members feel buy-in not only to the work that we do as an organization but as a group of people who collectively decide to create an enduring legacy of class resilience.
My name is Andrew S (he/him) and I am an academic worker and union member of AFT Academics. I am a socialist because I don’t see a way for capitalism to produce a just and equitable society for anyone but the privileged and the elite. I believe we need an intersectional approach to dismantling the unfair class structure in the United States, which means we cannot ignore things like racism, sexism, transphobia, and other forms of oppression to achieve the world we both want and deserve.
I do believe that anywhere, but especially in our city of New Orleans, we as an organization need to heavily commit ourselves to antiracism if we want to achieve any sort of solidarity with the working class. This means two things: 1) we must commit ourselves further to anti-racist theory and practice, both within our chapter and the work that we do, and 2) we must find ways to support BIPOC-led organizations and establish trust within our community.
New Orleans DSA does great work in direct service and in the fight for Medicare for All and I am so proud of those efforts; they are truly a model for DSA chapters across the nation. I think we now need to model how best to be a good organizational ally in the fight against racism in this country. We should not take the lead in these efforts, but instead support BIPOC-led organizations in whatever way they need our support. We don’t need to lead every effort, and especially not this one. But that doesn’t mean we must sit on our hands. I am encouraged to see us already supporting strong, BIPOC-led organizations, and I look forward to us finding more to support, and getting better at it too.
To complement this effort, we as a chapter need to commit ourselves now and indefinitely to improving our understanding of anti-racist theory and practice. This does not just mean a book club, but trainings, workshops, discussions, and actions—hopefully much of which will be led by our own members. As a former teacher, I hope to put my skills to use in organizing some of these readings and discussions in particular.
If elected, I pledge to be a resource for new members in our organization who want to get involved. I pledge to involve general members in the work of the chapter as much as possible, both to reduce leader burn-out and increase the power of the general membership. I pledge to help strengthen our chapter’s commitment to anti-racist theory and practice. If elected, I pledge to work as best I can to win that better world we all know is possible.
My name is Alli D. and I’m running for Treasurer Trustee. I’m one of the founding co-chairs of New Orleans DSA and I have served as Treasurer for the last year. During that time, we have put in place financial controls, developed the chapter’s first-ever participatory chapterwide budgeting process, streamlined our reimbursement process, improved our financial reporting to the membership, and steadily increased our bank balance and cash reserves. I’m running for Trustee to assist the new treasurer, maintain continuity over our financial controls, and to continue to improve and evolve these systems over time as we grow.
William (Bill) Murphy
No statement submitted yet. Attend the June 27th meeting at 2 p.m. to hear candidates speak.