Chapter’s New Leaders Look to the Future

DSA New Orleans’ first majority-online elections swept in a wave of new officers last week. New Co-Chairs Frances G. and Benjamin H. and Membership Chair Sean D. said their top priorities include finalizing a code of conduct, expanding and engaging the general membership, and empowering members.

Other election winners were:

  • Secretary: Lori D.
  • Treasurer: James P.
  • At-large Members: Nadia E. & Andrew S.
  • Treasurer Trustee: Alli D.

“Even though this is a really challenging time within our chapter and outside, it’s also a moment of incredible opportunity,” said Frances, who’s served in the past as Health Care Committee Chair and chapter Secretary. “I want to see as much work and decision-making as possible done by the general membership, with the Local Council facilitating.”

Benjamin, the Direct Service Committee Steward, agreed that empowering members should be a top goal of the new Local Council, along with building formal processes for identifying and developing leaders.

“We’ve already created an environment where you can come in green and learn how to be a solid organizer and leader, but we should do some formalizing of that process,” he said.

To that end, Sean suggested building/formalizing positions within a Membership Committee that engage and motivate new members, including membership trustee, mobilizing team head, and social organizer.

“Membership isn’t built top-down. Membership is grown when people make those connections one-on-one. The biggest thing we can do is to provide spaces where people can meet and exchange ideas,” said Sean, who has experience organizing with the Interfaith Prayer Vigil and as an internal mobilizer on the chapter’s City Waste Working Group.

All three of the chapter’s new top leaders identified a lack of diversity among the leadership as a critical obstacle in the coming year. 

 “We have to figure out structural solutions to these systemic structural problems,” Frances said. “We have to do externally-facing work that puts us in the trenches with other working-class organizations alongside black- and brown-led organizations.”

Benjamin said he wants to work quickly on establishing a long-term defund and disarm the police campaign that would engage the entire chapter in anti-racism work.

“Can we claw back the funds that the city is putting into reactive, racist policies and put them toward health justice or a green new deal or housing justice?” he asked.

Educating new members on the chapter’s politics by creating a political program would be a critical goal for Sean in the coming months.

“It’s one thing to provide a space for people to learn, but if we don’t have a framework to work with it, we can lose sight of where we stand as democratic socialists,” he said. “The membership political spectrum can vary as far as Marxist to Anarchist, so we need to clearly define and come to a consensus on our chapter values”

Frances had her eyes on a large-scale political campaign: a City Council seat in 2021. 

“Even a long-shot campaign would still solidify our knowledge base and get us out there more,” she said. “In any campaign, we can drag the whole thing to the left by staking out further leftward positions.”

How Can I Help?

Message Frances, Benjamin, Sean, or any of the chapter’s officers on Slack with questions and suggestions, or email to reach us!

Nominations for 2020 Local Officers’ Election is Open!

Each year our local chapter holds a convention for the purpose of electing new officers to the Local Council and debating proposed amendments to our chapter bylaws and political resolutions that can shape the direction of our chapter. Due to the public health crisis of COVID-19 and social distancing measures, our chapter must find ways to do both important elements of the Convention in virtual spaces. 

The Local Council has created our first ever Election Committee to undertake the work of planning an election that is fair, transparent, and accessible despite the fact that we cannot meeting together in a physical space. The Election Committee is currently meeting weekly on Tuesdays at 5pm, and anyone who is interested in contributing is welcome to join. You can join the #election-committee-2020 channel on Slack to participate or register for the Zoom call here.

While we are still researching voting platforms as well as how to collect votes from members with little or no internet access, the Election Committee is pleased to announce that the nomination period is now open!

New Orleans DSA will have elections at the end of June. These positions are a chance for members to take a more direct role in guiding our chapter. It’s an opportunity for our chapter to develop new leaders and get fresh perspectives on our work. It’s also a chance for members to gain experience as leaders in a democratic organization of more than 250 people. 

Candidates must be nominated by another member to run and must be a member in good standing, which means that you are currently paying dues to DSA National. No one may nominate themselves. To nominate a member, email with the subject line Officer Nomination or let a current chapter officer know your nomination(s). There’s no limit on how many people you can nominate. The nomination period is for the next two weeks, ending May 30th. The Election Committee will reach out to each nominee to confirm their acceptance and give them information on what will be expected of them as a candidate. 

Read this document for a full description of the role of each officer (hat tip to Noah T. for writing this up!).

Special Meeting Announcement

Our chapter will be holding a Special Meeting on Saturday, May 30th (instead of our Weekly Update call) to vote on proposed amendments to the bylaws. According to our bylaws, amendments can only be debated and voted on during Special Meetings. We need to have a quorum of 10% of our membership in attendance, so please mark this on your calendar!

This is not a substitute for the Convention. Another special meeting will take place in conjunction with the election this summer, and we will be providing information on how to write, submit, and debate any proposed resolutions or amendments well ahead of time. At this month’s meeting, we will be debating just a handful of amendments to the bylaws to potentially add new positions to the Local Council and a clause that allows our chapter to reformat or reschedule the Convention under extreme circumstances (like the one we are in now). The full text of these amendments will be emailed and posted to the website as soon as possible so that members can review them.

We will also be giving a general overview of the election process and schedule as well as information on Robert’s Rules of Order, which we use for debate.