2021 TCDSA Convention candidate statements

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The following candidates are running for various positions in the Twin Cities DSA 2021 Convention this September. Descriptions for each of the positions can be found here. Bylaws with rules governing each of these positions can be found here.

Co-chair

Ian R.

he / him

I joined DSA in November 2016 and have been involved in Twin Cities DSA since then. I was the founding chair of the labor branch and served on steering committee in 2017 and 2018. I have been involved in a number of DSA projects locally and nationally including mentoring the UMN YDSA chapter, the Red Rabbits security group, a member of the Labor Branch Organizing Committee, serving as a 100k recruitment drive captain and PRO Act liaison, facilitating Socialism 101 events and have served as a delegate to the national convention in ’17, ’19, and ’21.

I believe Twin Cities DSA has a key role to play as an organization by and for workers, committed to a radical horizon through tangible, immediate steps to confront capitalism. We are at a moment of vulnerability in our recent history where our explosive growth seems to be slowing nationally, COVID has made our traditional forms of organizing and community building unsafe, and a year of crisis in Minnesota — from Line 3 to COVID to the police murders of George Floyd, Duante Wright, Dolal Idd, and Winston Smith–have necessitated crucial but exhausting organizing. I am running to keep Twin Cities DSA on our path of growing socialist thought and organizing in the Twin Cities. I believe in maintaining a multi-tendency organization that can be an organizing home for everyone from social democrats energized by the Bernie campaign to anarchists excited by tenant organizing. On the other hand, an organization that tries to do everything won’t do anything particularly well, and will result in burnout. We need to continue our efforts to engage members, make it easier for everyone in TCDSA to know what our core campaigns are at any given time, and bring a new generation of socialists into leadership — particularly with an eye to countering racial and gender hierarchies in our organization.

I believe that I bring a lot of experience in our organization to this position, and I’m invested in building relationships across our chapter for the long-haul, across disagreement and difference.

Recording Secretary

Benjamin G.

he / him

I’m running for Recording Secretary because my experience with DSA has been so positive, and I want that to continue. It’s an organization that can be the structure for focused big tent and truly democratic organizing without a culture of gatekeeping.

I know I am not an especially good organizer, but there are many roles within an organization that are not direct organizing. I believe DSA is capable of creating actual power both through itself and very much through supporting those who are the better organizations of their domains of reality and actions.

My history with DSA is helping to start the New Orleans chapter, and serving for a time of the Steering Committee there. My money making hours are spent as a project manager with most of my experience being improving technical stuff to make it easier for people to use. ??For a wonderful year I was part of a technology worker cooperative and learned a lot about how bylaws, democratic governance, and operational work can create the bedrock for every other effort an org wants to undertake. It definitely helped me see how a better world is possible.

As Recording Secretary, I would hope to maintain the involvement of those already on communications and bring new people into the comms roles to develop TCDSA’s capacities.

To me, DSA is the organization that has the greatest diversity of inputs and the backbone of democratic governance to withstand the traditional pitfalls of left organizations and achieve not success for itself, but be a place for people to begin and continue a vision of a better world. And maybe cry a bit when they sing a song together.

Please share why you are running, your experience in DSA, any other relevant experience, and what strengths you would bring to this role.

Javier M.

he / him

Hey comrades!

My name is Javier Miranda (he/him), and I I am running for the role of Recording Secretary
because:
(1) The role of secretary should be performed by cis men comrades whenever possible – and it
is possible!
(2) Because as a former secretary for Heart of Iowa DSA, I would be good at it.
(3) Most of all, because a comrade I respect and trust encouraged me to run.

As our outgoing recording secretary described, it’s vitally important to send out notices ahead of
general meetings, as well as keeping our meeting agendas legible for members who can’t
attend every meeting.

Our comrades do incredible things, and I want all TCDSA members to know what our chapter
looks like, what we’re doing, and where we’re going. It makes it easier to recruit, too!

In 2016, I co-founded Iowa State University YDSA, and in 2019 I became the secretary for Heart
of Iowa DSA. During that same time, I was a tenant organizer and co-chair of the Ames Tenants
Union. In these roles, I was responsible for regularly crafting agendas, attending steering
committee meetings, and emailing the entire chapter & interested non-members. I take pride in
crafting a clear agenda, keeping neat, readable meeting minutes, and getting it out to members.

The expression goes, “Everyone wants a revolution, but no one wants to do the dishes.” I would be thrilled to do some dishes and work with the rest of our steering committee to make sure everybody has a plate at the table.

Technology Coordinator

Eugene B.

he / him

Hi there! Somehow it’s been two years already, and I’m running again for technology coordinator. During my last term, we set up new tools such as the chapter wiki website and EveryAction that helped us organize chapter material and information more effectively. During the early months of the pandemic and the uprising, I worked to ensure that our tech infrastructure, including our Spoke texting platform, stayed online and up-to-date. Since the passing of our treasurer earlier this year, I have also been involved in treasurer activities. Once a new treasurer is elected, I hope to have more time to spend on techops. If re-elected, my priorities for the next term will be to relaunch the tech operations committee, redesign our WordPress-based website, look for more low-cost, self-hosted tools we can adopt, and work towards more actively involving other members in techops.

Treasurer

Timothy H.

he / him

I’m running because the duties of treasurer are essential aspects to the effective running of an organization, and I believe I can competently perform those duties while enabling the smooth operation of the chapter. I have been active in DSA as the Electoral Co-chair and in developing the regional groups, and my outside work experience is in evaluating non-profit organizations and providing recommendations for maintaining best practices, as well as reviewing financial documents.

Political Education Coordinator

Per chapter bylaws, there are three co-facilitator up for election, one of which is a Steering Committee seat. Additionally, there may be no more than one co-facilitator identifying as cisgender white male at any given time.

Richard A.

he / him

If you told a more youthful 21 year old me back in 2014 that one day I’d be running for Political Education Coordinator in the Minneapolis chapter of Democratic Socialists of America I’d have said that’s strangely specific, and been combative over the whole “socialist” thing. Many of us in this community would like to pretend that we have always been as far left as we are now. We’d like to exist in the comfortable false memory, that we were not absolute libs at one point in time. Unfortunately, the reality is quite different, and for many of us, before Bernie Sanders made his initial primary run in 2016, we were casual neo-liberals led astray by the realities of living in a capitalist system where everything is curtailed or molded or manipulated to fit within the narrative. Breaking free from that narrative is incredibly difficult, and in many cases requires a guide, a friend, a neighbor. Our job as socialists is to facilitate that process, it’s to be knowledgeable beyond theory alone, to be able to communicate, to listen, to help others realize that their wants and needs are legitimate, and just. As a collective we need myriad skills to be political facilitators, and I am confident that I can help build a community facile in these many roles.

I studied political science and history at DePaul University in Chicago, and returned home to Minneapolis to finish off my bachelor’s at the University of Minnesota. In 2014 interned for Keith Ellison for Congress and after two months was hired on as a field organizer for the DFL Coordinated campaign. I worked with two other organizers from the Al Franken for Senate campaign to maintain field operations in 11 cities across the West Metro. Every one of our candidates secured victory in that election cycle. That winter I was recruited as an organizer to work for Independent Democrat John Arena in Chicago’s 45th ward. The race went to a runoff and I had to return to school but he went on to win in April of 2015. In 2016 I briefly worked for Angie Craig for Congress in an unsuccessful bid, although I deeply regret my involvement with her campaign. In the same year I volunteered for the Bernie Sanders campaign, and canvassed in both Iowa, and Minnesota. Although that feels like old history at this point, I found that time to be integral to reforming my politics. Everything that is discussed in soundbites, and never acted upon is much more relevant when you’re forced to confront it every day. Anyone who has faced medical bankruptcy, homelessness, or other forms of violence, is all too aware of that.

I want to see change happen in our country, and I know there’s no better place to start than Minneapolis. It would be an honor to work as Political Education Coordinator, and I know that if given the opportunity I will make us stronger as a community, and more successful in our political endeavors.

Chris F.

he / him

I’ve been a TCDSA member since 2017 and have been involved with a variety of projects in our organization, but most especially the Health Justice Working Group and Red Rabbits. In 2021 I participated in the Capital Reading Group, including facilitating and scheduling a few sessions, and found it to be extremely rewarding and engaging. Materialist analysis and socialist political thinking isn’t something we can (or should!) do in isolation; we need to engage with our comrades to move forward, building our own toolboxes, and develop the skills and perspective to achieve our goals. I view the pol ed coordinator role as a person who can help make connections between new and long-standing members to help our chapter better understand our world and how to change it.

My hope is that I can bring my experience in the organization to the pol ed coordinator role and help both new and old members understand what we’re fighting for and how to get involved with socialist politics in their community. If elected, I will bring a strong sense of organization and reliability, as well as a passion for helping other translate their ideas/hopes into tangible projects and programs. I think we have a tremendous amount of passion, perspective, and experience in our chapter and that our political education program can draw on this more effectively to build a culture where we are always learning from each other.

Kip H.

he / him

Political Education is one of the key ways to inspire people to a lifetime of socialist activism. Helping to deepen comrades understanding of how the world works and how it can be changed is how we can turn paper membership into real commitment. My special interest in running for this position is to make available more educational programs on the history of the working class, how workers have changed the world and how mass, multi national, multi racial working class movements have been built in the past. I have been active in the TCDSA labor branch for the past 3 years and now function as the co-chair of the labor branch. I bring 5 decades of experience in the labor and socialist movements to this role and many years of study of working class movements.

Sneha N.

she / her

I am running for Political Education Coordinator because I believe there’s plenty for us all to learn when our goal is to transform society. I’ve been involved with TCDSA since 2019, and previously helped run the Tech Action reading group (until it dissolved around when the pandemic began). I believe I’d be a good fit for this role because I teach higher Ed as my day job and have a fair amount of experience designing and presenting educational materials. I’d be excited to use these skills within DSA, especially in the context of bringing newer members into the organization with regular socialism 101 sessions and discussion groups.

Debra R.

she / her

I have held the role for a year now. I am at work mainly on three projects now: getting consistent monthly pieces, called Snippets, into the LRL, building an irl TCDSA library with an automated lending process, and advocating for more low-bar-to-participate fun events – speakers, films, free-form socials.

Member at Large

There are three Members at Large up for election. Per chapter bylaws, at least one Member at Large must not be a cisgender male at any given time.

Nica C.

she / her

I joined DSA because I wanted to find people who shared a paradigm for bettering our world, but also who earnestly believed that a better world is possible. I’m grateful to have been a part of the regional group organizing this past year as a Northside regional steward. Seeing the way the regional groups have evolved has reminded me of the capacity we all have for growth and connection in this movement. I want to embody a sustained commitment to empathetic and effective organizing, and in practical terms, I have both the time and energy to commit to such a role. In personal terms, I can carry empathy, compassion, and person-centered thinking into this space, which I hope will contribute to all of us staying earnest and moving forward.

Aurin C.

she / her or they / them

Hi, I am Aurin Chowdhury I use she/they pronouns and live in the Lowry Hill East neighborhood of Minneapolis. I am a renter, working person, and queer first-generation Bengali-American. I joined DSA in early 2020 and helped to organize efforts pushing the Governor for an eviction moratorium, cancel rent, and supporting our essential workers. At a time where there was so much uncertainty in our world and our politics, I found a political home in DSA. 

The organizing that I have been most passionate about recently has been organizing around public safety, specifically talking with community members on what we can imagine beyond the current system of policing. I have been organizing and thinking about public safety policy since 2019 and I am most recently working on the Yes 4 Minneapolis campaign to pass a new department of public safety. I believe that abolition is abundant and it means that we can have more for our communities, it means that we can make sure every person can live a dignified life and that we can address the systemic racism and classism that has hurt our communities for far too long. 

I am running for the steering committee because I believe that I can be a helpful and insightful asset to our collective in the Twin-Cities DSA. I want to help make sure our foundation is strengthened as a chapter, build new and necessary structures that will help us function efficiently and equitably. Most importantly, I  would like to be a part of expanding our members deeper into Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Immigrant communities and make sure when we expand we are giving the people who join the agency to lead and a sense of empowerment to make decisions in our collective. I have sat on a few boards and steering committees in the past and I believe that experience paired with some good relational organizing will help the chapter achieve these goals. 

Tim J.

he / him

Hi Twin Cities DSA members! My name is Tim J. and I’m running with hopes of becoming one of your three Members At-Large.

As an active DSA member for 4+ years, I would be dedicated to fulfilling this role by helping our chapter build out our internal organizing efforts, increasing our operational effectiveness as a body, and being available for all rank-and-file members as one of your representatives on the Steering Committee.

If elected, I’m excited to get to work with the rest of the incoming Steering Committee — helping DSA move toward becoming the mass socialist organization the multiracial working class needs it to be.

My DSA volunteer work since 2017 includes: Medicare for All organizing and canvasses, neighborhood organizing as a Steward, former chair of the Health Justice Working Group, DSA for Bernie and other electoral volunteering, helping with the Eviction Moratorium pressure campaign, Upper Midwest Regional Organizer for both DSA M4A + DSA for Bernie campaigns, technical support with several digital chapter tools, etc. I hope to earn your vote!

Please share why you are running, your experience in DSA, any other relevant experience, and what strengths you would bring to this role.

Mara K.

she / her

I am running for re-election as a Steering Committee Member At-Large, a role I have held since January 2021. Since joining DSA in 2019 and becoming an active member in 2020, I’ve learned a lot about how our organization works and where I think it needs to change. My candidate statement from last winter still stands: I want DSA to be welcoming and participatory, where we develop new leaders through clear campaigns and build capacity for future work. I learned a lot as a newer member forming the Hi-Lake Organizing Committee last year, where I saw how important 1-1 organizing conversations are in activating members and sustaining a group. The skills I learned in 2020 were a crucial part of the success we’ve seen in the Hi-Lake and St Paul groups, where we have many new leaders learning organizing skills just like I did a year ago. I’m especially proud of the role DSA members have played in the St. Paul rent control initiative (HENS). Organizing is challenging and it’s only possible when we work as a collective body rather than disconnected individuals. Bringing groups together and sharing responsibility is one of my strengths.

Now, entering my third year as a DSA member and after almost 1 year in elected leadership, I feel deeply that DSA must address white supremacist culture in our organization. Despite our best intentions and political beliefs, DSA spaces regularly recreate the same conditions of racism, capitalism, and sexism that we’re trying to fight against. All of us fall back into these habits, including me. Our organization is not sustainable in its current state; we are losing leaders and organizers of color both locally and nationally. Challenging our white supremacist tendencies and changing the culture of our organization is a critical task for the next Steering Committee. I’m running again because I want this to be a priority in our chapter and will push for it if re-elected.

Ali R.

she / her

I am a fan of helping out my fellow person with life.

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