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 firstname.lastname@example.org to reach us!