Local Officer Candidates & Statements

Please find below the list of candidates & candidacy statements for the DSA-LA Steering Committee. Following the Candidate Forum this Saturday, November 18, the election voting period will commence by online ballot. Please read the below statement for more details on the candidate forum. For an earlier and more detailed write up of the election process, please see this blog post.

All DSA-LA members are encouraged to attend the Candidate Forum from 3-6pm on Saturday, November 18 at UTLA (3303 Wilshire Blvd., 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90010). Candidates will be participating in a Question and Answer session, then members will have the opportunity to express their experiences and opinions regarding candidates. If you cannot attend the Forum or would prefer to remain anonymous, please submit your comments about candidates to elections@dsa-la.org.
 
For the Q&A portion of the Forum, the Nominations Committee will be accepting suggestions for questions to be asked of candidates. Please send your suggestions to elections@dsa-la.org or submit them via this form before the Forum on November 18
 
Voting will begin on Sunday, November 19 and will end on Sunday, November 26. The six At Large positions will be voted on using the Borda Ranking System, wherein members rank candidates in order of preference. The six candidates with the highest combined ranking votes will be elected. All other contested positions are between two candidates and so will be decided by single votes, wherein the candidates with the plurality of votes will be elected. Communications Director and Recording Secretary are uncontested and the candidates will be declared elected by acclamation.

 

Local Officer Statements

Please find statements for all Local Officers below. Note that the YDSA Coordinator is not a Steering Committee position, while all other named positions are.

 

Communications Director

Arielle Sallai

Treasurer

Nick Ballard

Sangita Rayasam

Recording Secretary

Sam Dean

YDSA Coordinator

Mattias Lehman

Carter Moon

At-Large Officer (six available positions)

Max Belasco

Francisco Cendejas

Gabe Gabrielsky

Kelsey Goldberg

Maikiko James

Jack Suria Linares

Brandon Rey Ramirez

Rachel Reyes

Carley Towne

Willetta "Willie" Waisath

 

Communications Director

 

Arielle Sallai

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

I’ve been heavily involved with the Housing & Homelessness committee and NOlympics working group, where I’ve more specifically utilized my communications background to help manage PR and run the website and social media channels for the campaign. Since we launched in early May, our social media following has grown dramatically and, along with our constant engagement with the press, has helped facilitate important conversations and shifted media perception around the Olympic bid in LA. As a result, our online presence and press relations have become a fundamental part of our work. This kind of comprehensive media strategy could apply to every committee, and I hope to facilitate that as Communications Director.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

Leftist communication strategy is now my day job, having left my position coordinating internal communications for a talent agency to work on communications for an anti-gentrification campaign. I also cut my teeth as a writer and editor for my campus newspaper, eventually working my way up to Editor in Chief. In that position, I had to effectively balance managing the holistic strategy of a large organization with the day to day grind of producing a newspaper. That skill-set is directly applicable to the DSA Communications Director position, in which you have to balance the need for every committee to promote their work with a more high-level approach to how we want to be perceived and engage with the working class.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

DSA-LA should always be growing, and our communications strategy is a fundamental part of our outreach efforts. This job is not without its challenges. We can no longer rely on alternative publications like LAist and LA Weekly to cover our work, and we should be critical of social media — how do we break out of the echo chamber and inspire conversations with people offline? To that end, I’m excited to work with the communications liaisons and agit-prop to develop a robust media strategy, to be ratified by the entire chapter. My ideal version of this would include developing our own news site so we don't have to rely on mainstream media to tell our story. At the same time, I’d still like to build out thorough press lists and train spokespeople for each committee.

 

 

Treasurer

 

Nick Ballard

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

Since joining DSA, I've dedicated myself to realizing democratic socialism one committee meeting at a time. Working with the NOlympics LA campaign, healthcare committee, and racial justice committee has honed my organizing acumen and broadened my network internally and externally. As an officer, I would be expected to help this chapter thrive and grow. I intend to take on this challenge humbly but remain confident in my ability to diligently promote our values.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

As an elected delegate to DSA's 2017 convention, I saw what democracy looks like, and also made good connections to socialists around the country. This event familiarized me with the nuances of our organization and with the wonderful comrades of DSA-LA.  Watching the interim steering committee's efforts in shepherding the flock then and outside the convention showed what it takes to ensure the cohesion of such a large group

Contributing to our presence at the Taste of Soul event was rewarding for me and our chapter. Organizing South LA is vital to our goals and reaching out to that audience was a crucial step in that direction. We had many conversations about our vision for society and many attendees expressed their interest in our advocacy.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

As the treasurer, I would like to ensure that our chapter is protected legally and financially. I suggest we incorporate in order to shield individuals from liability in case any litigation arises. 

I aim to encourage the chapter to be efficient while continuing to do great work. I want to be able to empower committees to pursue their initiatives without hesitation over funding. This is a big, strong chapter and I intend to help keep it that way.

 

Sangita Rayasam

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

I am already presently a treasurer and on the board of directors for Pehr Arts, a local 501(c)3 organization formed to serve LA's all-ages music and arts community. I have extensive experience in LA's 'DIY' community as a leader and organizer.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

I am a professional bookkeeper and fundraiser and I presently serve that role for Nolympics LA. I am proficient at Quickbooks, CRM software, crowdfunding, & am great at bridging local collectives to work together on infrastructural concerns.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

As a queer nonbinary person of color and an assault survivor, I am running to ensure both better representation and also secure funding for effective implementation of our new bylaws via our education and anti-oppression committees. We must also establish a finance committee to plan for and sustain membership growth.

 

 

Recording Secretary

 

Sam Dean

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

In early 2017, I came into the chapter knowing almost nothing about DSA or organizing in Los Angeles. But I wanted to learn.

So I went to one meeting, and another, and another, hopping across committees. And when there weren't enough candidates to fill our delegate slots for the national convention, I volunteered to go and figure out even more. 

Along the way, I discovered that if you propose an idea in DSA, someone's going to ask you to step up and organize it yourself—that’s how I ended up organizing events on the west side with Membership, becoming a Mobilizer in my new neighborhood, and forming the Electoral Politics committee, which I’m currently interim-chairing.

That learning process is still very much ongoing (I didn’t think I’d ever run a meeting, let alone a committee), but I think it’s prepared me to be an effective Recording Secretary.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life working as a journalist—a job that, when done well, consists of listening to people, tracking down accurate information, and then synthesizing that into an engaging piece of writing.

The connections to the position of Recording Secretary are clear. As the designated reporter for the Steering Committee, I believe the skills I’ve built up as a writer and researcher would help me make our minutes and other internal documents as useful to the membership as possible, and my eye for accuracy would help with the maintenance of membership records and adherence to DSA-LA bylaws and policies.

And while I hate to draw on the work I’ve been forced to do by our capitalist wage labor system too heavily, I think some of Steering Committee’s most important responsibilities—listening, fact-finding, and ensuring transparency—benefit from similar skills.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

I love DSA-LA’s democratic approach to self-organizing, and our committees’ proliferation of exciting and winnable projects is proof that this structure works. But it can be difficult to navigate for new members (or anyone, really).

So, by working with Membership as Recording Secretary, I’d hope to build a webpage where we could see the Local’s work at a glance, continue to strengthen the Mobilizer network to make sure members are involved across the city, look into creating geographic branches, and help launch a robust publication to keep everyone informed and foster healthy debate.

I’d also want to help implement our anti-oppression trainings across the Local by providing whatever administrative support the Anti-Oppression team needs to make this happen. 

YDSA Coordinator

 

Mattias Lehman

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

My experience in DSA is currently pretty limited. I just started working with the Electoral Politics subcommittee and am assisting in the creation of an app or a database for the electoral mapping project, where we seek to publicize key votes of Assemblymembers and State Senators.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

I founded a program called Engage Beyond, which goes to local colleges and high schools to talk to students about what forms of media and communications appeal to them, as well as to discuss leftist issues with them. Currently, most of that work has been through my role as a Democratic Party Delegate on the Voter Services Committee, but I would love to expand that to an organization more true to my political philosophy.

I have met with the YDSA chapter at UCLA, and assisted in their chartering process, as well as helping them brainstorm and prepare to table for new members.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

I come from the tech world, where I've worked as a gaming journalist for the last 4 years. I - along with many of my coworkers - was doxed by the alt-right 3 years ago during GamerGate, and I firmly believe that the next generation of social activism stands at a tipping point against active alt-right recruitment.

It is imperative that those of us on the left ensure that our movement is bottom-up, whether that mean majoritarian, intersectional, or future-oriented. I want to organize YDSA chapters so that they can pool their brainpower and work together to create an infrastructure that allows for youth-driven organizing.

 

Carter Moon

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

Since I joined DSA in May, I helped advise current students at my Alma Mater, Chapman University, to start a YDSA chapter. It was super encouraging to help them go through the process and get their chapter off the ground and I'd love to advise more students in the future about their approaches on their campus.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

I've already established contact with the YDSA chapters at UCLA and USC by putting them in touch with the Debt Collective to hopefully start organizing around student loan debt and helping students to resist their debts. I'd love to strengthen these relationships, help these YDSA chapters figure out how they can be more integrated into DSA LA as a whole, and encourage them to expand their campaigns on their campuses.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

I believe in the teens, I truly do believe that our socialist movement will be built on the backs of millennials who believe another world is possible. I think campuses have a long history of radical organizing and we should be doing everything in our power to revitalize that tradition. I'd love to see YDSA chapters start at the other major colleges in this city and for them to become local hubs for activism in their immediate community. As I continue conversations between debt collective and our current YDSA chapters, I would love to start a coordinated campaign between all the major colleges in Los Angeles where they unite in resisting student loan debt. It seems like a natural center to organize from, and it would be beneficial to all of us if we were part of the movement to make campuses socialist again.

 

 

At-Large Officers

 

Max Belasco

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

Since joining DSA-LA last November I founded and chaired the Labor Committee, which has been involved in planning our successful May Day action, our strike solidarity with AT&T CWA workers, and our ongoing #HollywoodLabor series. In conjunction with chairing the Labor Committee I served as a member of the Executive Committee that was founded to help direct the Chapter after our post-election surge, helping out with putting on membership meetings.

I have also been served as a host for the West Side/Left Side membership hangout and tabled for DSA-LA at various public events. I served as a delegate for our chapter at last August’s DSA Convention, where a proposal I drafted to create a national Democratic Socialist Labor Commission was passed with overwhelming support. I have also been involved in testing out our nascent mobilizer program to communicate better with members across the chapter.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

I have been involved in the labor movement for five years, when I joined UPTE-CWA after college as part of my researcher position at UCLA. Since then I have become a steward and the head of the mobilizer and social media teams for my local, and responsible for recruiting and bringing in newer, younger workers into the union. While I’m an IT worker, I have been involved with organizing actions and playing logistical support for campaigns in other job units, particularly that of student affairs officers in the UC system.

My job is to provide information security and database management for a law school, as well as providing broad general education on best security practices. I would like to be able to bring this experience as well as my labor background to help with internal processes we have in the chapter to better facilitate member outreach and engagement.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

The places where I think DSA-LA can improve are well-trodden ground for the labor movement. I want us to take next year to create and enact an agenda that better our internal democracy and solidarity – that not only involves better engagement of membership, but creating more opportunities for members to have a voice and take on leadership roles in the local. A robust mobilizer/steward structure coupled with creating solidarity workshops stylized on labor anti-oppression programs and AORTA trainings, are going to be key components in building a more organized and intersectional space. Creating also more education opportunities, both on theory and practice (like information security) are also components I’d like to build for our local.

Organizing builds solidarity. The more we can engage our members in rewarding work, the stronger our local becomes, and I welcome the challenge to build that stronger community.

 

Francisco Cendejas

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

I joined DSA in 2012, but only became serious about doing work in our organization after the 2016 election. Like so many others, I realized that my day-job work as a union organizer was not enough to meet what the current political moment requires of each of us.

Our organization has grown in size as well as scope of ambition over the last year. As a current Steering Committee member, I'm proud to think that this is at least in part because of the structure, processes, and bylaws that we have collectively sought to build for our chapter.

I’ve contributed to several committees and projects, including most prominently the Socialist Day School, our May Day presence and several other mobilizations, and organizing our delegation to the annual convention in Chicago.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

2017 marks my twelfth year in the labor movement, having worked both as an organizer and a strategic researcher. This experience has been deeply instructive to my work in DSA. It is my vocation to build organizations, both in my paid work and within DSA. 

Part of organizing is deliberately moving people beyond their doubts and fears and towards a vision of collective empowerment. This is fundamentally the same process whether talking to newly radicalized young people, or teachers, or truckers. At their best, labor unions are organizations of ordinary people who collectively are capable of accomplishing extraordinary things. Unapologetically, this what I believe DSA-LA can be.

In my day job I’m an organizer with United Teachers Los Angeles. I’m also on the board of a tenant’s rights org in South LA.  I'll continue connecting dots between DSA and the various pieces of movement work that I’m connected to.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

A few, non-exhaustive practical suggestions that our organization should take on, irrespective of who is on the Steering Committee:

-More rigorous and consistent onboarding of new members. Set a goal of contacting every new member individually promptly after their joining, and integrating them into local organizing structures/committee work and acclimating them to our organization's culture, norms, and expectations as quickly as possible.

-Continuing our work to build local organizing structures, deepening our member engagement. I've worked with over a dozen of our members to test out a mobilizer structure, where DSA-LA would be capable of reaching each member individually through intentional locally-based relationship building.

-Methodically and intentionally building geographic branches within DSA-LA. Consider having multiple  general meetings across the city, and making use of hangouts, mobilizers, and other methods to drive turnout to these more localised meetings.

 

Gabe Gabrielsky

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

I have been an active democratic socialist for more than 50 years. I have a comprehensive knowledge of democratic socialist values, history, traditions and theory, particularly with regard to the history of democratic socialism in the United States. I am relatively new to the Los Angeles area, having moved here in 2013. However, I have considerable practical experience in socialist organizations, labor unions and social movement organizations. Over the years I served as the branch organizer for the Washington, D.C. Independent Socialist Club, the New Jersey International Socialists and presently the Los Angeles branch of Solidarity. I am also currently the Treasurer of the Los Angeles Local of the Socialist Party, USA. Over the course of my working life I have been a rank and file member of several different local labor unions and social movement organizations.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

I have a fundamental commitment to democratic values and democratically organized participatory processes including especially, but not limited to, both majority rule and the rights of political minorities within the organization. I have considerable experience working within the context of democratically organized political bodies. I have also worked with non-socialists in both labor unions and social movement organizations and I have experience in reconciling socialist and non-socialist perspectives within broader political bodies. I currently participate in the Anti-Oppression, Climate Justice, Electoral Politics, Labor and Political Education committees of the Los Angeles chapter of DSA.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

There are at least tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands and possibly even millions of unaffiliated socialists in the United States. I believe that the first priority of DSA, both nationally and locally should be in actively recruiting the "low hanging fruit" of those thousands of unaffiliated socialists. I believe that can best be accomplished by actively orienting toward the mass demonstrations that regularly occur. I also believe that members can be more actively and democratically engaged in the chapter if it is systematically divided up into chapters based either on coherent electoral political units such as local state assembly or Congressional districts, or organic neighborhood units. I would like to develop more political coherence in the chapter so that there are very clear majority and minority perspectives on the key issues of debate within DSA, particularly with regard to our orientation toward electoral politics.


Kelsey Goldberg

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

As a co-chair and member of the previous Steering Committee I have extensive experience with the inner workings of the organization and how the mechanisms that were newly introduced in our bylaws work. I'm proud of the work I did on the previous Steering Committee and know that the organizational, communication, and leadership skills that I honed during my term would be an asset to the new Steering Committee the greatest asset I can bring to the new Steering Committee is institutional memory. I see my role on the new Steering Committee as an internal resource to the other members, to help the transition be smooth and ensure that projects that are able to progress smoothly as information and leadership roles are passed on to the new Steering Committee.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

Coming from the not for profit theatre world keeping morale up, making the most of limited resources, and creative problem solving are second nature to me at this point. DSA LA is an amazing place and many of us here have found a home where we are surrounded by like minded individuals. That does not change the fact that organizing on the left can be an exhausting and thankless task. It may seem trivial, but in those moments where the thanklessness of our work is felt most acutely, cheese-ball, kumbaya, moral building can be just the ticket. Despite cynical teenage-Kelsey's insistence it was lame, I grew up to be a very skilled cheerleader.  I will cheer on this chapter, my fellow leaders, I will do everything I can to make sure that we all have the inspiration we need to continue to motivate us and that no victory goes uncelebrated.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

One of the things that I am most excited about is the series of trainings that are starting to develop in various working groups and committees. Whether it be an anti-oppression training or a leadership training I think giving our members who are inspired to do the work the tools and resources to be as effective as possible is crucial. As the work we undertake grows in scope leadership positions may seem more daunting and I will dedicate myself to ensuring that these trainings exist to support people who might not see themselves as leaders yet, but will blossom with support. Before joining DSA LA I’d never organized my closet let alone organized around a political movement. Growing through and into the leadership positions I found myself in has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and I want to ensure anyone can have that same experience.


 

Maikiko James*

*This candidate statement was initially written for the position of Recording Secretary, but has been moved to At-Large at the candidate's request.

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

I joined DSA-LA toward the end of 2016, and have been witness to both its extremely encouraging growth and corresponding growth challenges. I currently serve as Co-Chair of the Anti-Oppression Committee and point of contact for the Racial Justice Caucus. These groups have, in my opinion, achieved much in a short time toward making our chapter representative of the society we aim to build.  While I don’t take personal credit for the initiative our members have put towards creating critical resources or building relationships with other organizations and communities, my organizational and administrative supports have served to move action forward. I would apply these in my role in Steering, if elected.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

For 17 years, I have sold my labor in nonprofit management and programming, in issues ranging from immigrant rights, legal protections for domestic violence and trafficking survivors, youth arts and leadership, and currently advocacy for women media creators. While perhaps still cogs in a corporate system, an understanding of nonprofit organizations and their administration can be a useful asset to strengthening the infrastructure of an organization like DSA, both in what and what not to do. I also grew up within Leftist households to parents who, while firmly convicted, left their movements due to oppressive behaviors and alienation. I feel compelled to explore that history, and understand what we may do better in growing an unshakeable international Left with genuine solidarity for all.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

I am excited by the turns our chapter is making in structure, issues, and membership retention. With Los Angeles’ vast geography, I hope to support new organizing models that allow people living in all regions of our community to engage. As a member of Steering, I will contribute to what must be a culture of transparency and open communication. Documentation of our processes is critical to good praxis, as evidence assists us in regularly critiquing and learning from past accomplishments and missteps. I intend to stay in position as Co-Chair of Anti-Oppression, continuing to advance the implementation of chapter-wide workshops in collaboration with my Co-Chair Carley Towne and our inspiring and dedicated committee members. Finally, I’ve joined the recently created LA Response Support network, a collective which trains local organizers in Transformative Justice methods so that radical work in LA is comprehensive and conscientious in its eradication of violence and oppression.

 

Jack Suria Linares

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

My main experience has been in both organizing students, understanding the role of the labor movement, and providing political education for YDSA.  In DSA i served as the national YDSA co-chair and at-large coordinator, i supported the establishment of the Upper Manhattan Branch in its initial steps, and facilitate political education workshops. I recognize key aspects that bridge the gap between the socialist movement and the larger working class and cultural movements. I believe that DSA-LA needs to work on establishing clear contacts within working class communities. I propose that we begin to form Spanish only branches within the Los Angeles Chapter that actively organizes and creates campaigns in Spanish. This will begin to accelerate the merger between the larger immigrant working class in Los Angeles and DSA.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

I have a strong foundation on the various traditions within the Socialist movement. I believe that the role of steering is to both to facilitate the solidification of the various traditions within the chapter as well as engage the chapter toward a political position that will support the organizing of all committees. As a national YDSA co-chair and at large coordinator, i helped shift the organization toward explicit anti-racist student campaigns for labor solidarity and establishing ethnic studies department throughout the country. I propose that steering committee establish larger panel debates and use half the time at chapter meetings for political education, leadership development, and organize priority campaigns that the Local supports.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

As steering committee member, I intend to help organize the first Local Convention and propose that steering support the campaigns that the Local chooses as priorities. I also intend to support statewide campaign working groups and the eventual establishment of the first DSA state federation. As the biggest Local in California, i believe that Los Angeles needs to take the lead while remaining humble and allow other chapters to co-lead state campaigns and eventually take power. Apart from statewide and local organizing, i believe that DSA-LA needs to develop stronger relations with National and chapters across the country. DSA needs to recognize the important work this chapter has done over the last few years as well as have better procedures to combat oppression more effectively.

 

 

Brandon Rey Ramirez

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

In 2010 I joined the Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) where I learned how to apply Marxist theory to student activism during the Occupy movement. In 2015 I joined the Democratic Socialists of America — Los Angeles Chapter (DSA-LA). As the chapter’s interim Communications Director and Co-Chair of DSA’s National Social Media Working Group, I helped usher in the membership surge from the 2016 election. Currently I'm the acting co-chair of the National Immigrant Right's Working Group. My experience and relationships with the National organization matched with my involvement in building the infrastructure for DSA Los Angeles provides an institutional knowledge valuable to DSA's longevity.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

My introduction to political organizing was through local politics. In my Pennsylvania hometown, I trained volunteers in phone banking and canvassing training for numerous local elections. At Temple University, I was heavily involved in Senate & Congressional campaign organizing with the College Democrats. After leaving the Democrats for a radical approach to politics, I advocated for the DREAM Act and immigration reform, working with the Nationalities Service Center, an Immigrant & Refugee nonprofit in Philadelphia. 

Professionally, I've worked as a project manager for progressive media partnerships for the past 2 1/2 years. In my role I had the opportunity to work closely with major progressive fundraising arms and campaigns during the 2016 election. I was heavily involved in learning and building the digital media strategies for amplifying Left wing movements and breaking through to the mainstream narrative.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

Internally, the Steering Committee must ensure that committees have the ample resources they need to execute their campaigns. As a former member of the Executive Committee, I know the logistical pain-points organizers face. Under no circumstances should the autonomy of committees, working groups, or caucuses be infringed; however, the Steering Committee needs to help where it can. I would like to arrange for routine regroups between the Steering Committee and organizers and would develop a shared toolkit that all members can contribute and utilize. 

As one of the largest chapters in the nation, DSA-LA needs to have a good working relationship with National. I would frequently work with National to open up the lines of communication and see how DSA-LA can be more involved in moving forward DSA's priority campaigns. At the same time, I would aggressively defend our local's reputation and commitment to chapter autonomy.

 

Rachel Reyes

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

My time in DSA-LA has been transformative. Though spoilt for choice regarding where to organise initially, being involved with our Housing and Homelessness Committee, as well as our NOlympics Working Group, has provided me a sense of purpose within Los Angeles that is indescribable. My work as Communications Liaison for NOlympics has given me the opportunity to build coalition partners across the state and within LA. My objective has been communication: I talk about the work we do within DSA-LA to literally anyone who will listen, through distributing Good Neighbor Guides and NOlympics stickers. I have built relationships with co-chairs at DSA-Silicon Valley and DSA-Las Vegas, people we can partner/organise with in the future as I believe it is imperative that we utilise our platform as one of the larger chapters to support our smaller ones.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

I am passionate about community organising—since high school, I have organised with many groups around racism and transit justice. I have used my position on Montana Avenue's BID to change the narrative surrounding unhoused folks living in Santa Monica to challenge merchants and residents to treat this population as neighbors and not a nuisance. Outside of DSA-LA, I am a retail manager and run a business. The nature of my work means I interact with the public every single day and hear opinions from a variety of people; because of this, I find engaging with new people to be second nature. It is my job to progress the talent on my teams and this is a skill I can utilise to build our chapter.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

DSA-LA has so much potential, but we need to tap into the individual skill sets in every single one of our members to strengthen our chapter. I want to really expand our membership outreach program through informative welcome packets, a more robust mobiliser program, and comprehensive anti-oppression training. This work is already underway and I want to support and enhance current efforts. As a queer woman of colour I want to make sure we are recruiting members who reflect the makeup of our city. I can do this by personally reaching out to other organisations and making sure folks know we are an inclusive organisation.

 

Carley Towne

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

In DSA I have worked widely across committees in both leadership and support roles. Currently, I am a co-chair for the anti-oppression committee and help run the socialist feminist education group, both of which have been formative in shaping my perspective on organizing while helping me to build the practical skills that would be useful as a local officer. I have also worked with a variety of committees and served as a delegate to the national convention. These experiences have allowed me to learn from and collaborate with DSA chapters across the country. Building these relationships outside of formal leadership roles, is an equally important aspect I would bring to my role as local officer in order to ensure our members many skills, resources, and input is reflected in our chapter.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

I have experience facilitating discussions among diverse community members at a women's resource center. I believe that facilitating this kind of comradely, critical, and accessible debate is central to continuing the work that our steering committee has begun as well as incorporating our membership's perspectives into chapter decision making democratically and transparently. In addition to my facilitation training, I have experience in several mainstream, liberal feminist organizations- which gives me insight into the workings of these kinds of spaces as well as how we might work in critical coalition with these kinds of groups, and potentially radicalizing left-leaning liberals.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

Our chapter has done admirable work in establishing the norms and procedures that will allow us to run a democratic, transparent organization accountable to the membership. The task ahead for DSA-LA is to more firmly root ourselves in working-class life and build a class politics that speaks to a broader swath of Angelenos. To do so requires rethinking our chapter's structure,  creating neighborhood level structures that respond to the specific needs of communities throughout LA while maintaining a city-wide network. Not only will this allow DSA-LA to become a part of the fabric of our city, it will push us to develop our own organizing skills, while providing opportunity for more working people to get involved, determine their own needs, and work towards winning the world we want.

 

Willetta "Willie" Waisath

What experience in DSA would make you a good Local Officer?

I’ve had the privilege of serving as an At-Large member of the interim Steering Committee and I’ve been the Co-Chair of the Political Education (formerly Politics) Committee. On Steering, I’ve worked to develop policies and bylaws that strengthen our organization and embody a commitment to democratic decision-making, transparency, and inclusivity.

I’ve also worked to engage our growing membership and create processes that center DSA-LA’s committees and working groups as the most significant working unit of our chapter. In Political Education, I’ve created opportunities for members to collectively expand our understanding of socialist concepts, histories, and strategies—most recently by organizing the Socialist Day School with comrades across committees.

Throughout this work, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from both long-time and new organizers—this experience paired with a deep commitment to our chapter would make me a good officer, and it would be a privilege to continue this work.

 

What other experience would make you a good Local Officer?

In a professional capacity, I’ve been active in a range of projects focused on community education and capacity-building within social services, including; developing and implementing peer-support for parents involved with the criminal justice system, reproductive health education and access to care through Title X, and community-based participatory research focused on early childhood development care. Currently, my professional work focuses on comparative analysis of social and economic policy with a focus on international labor rights.

In my work, I’ve gained experience building capacity, planning and facilitating large convenings, and interpreting and implementing policy. These experiences serve as preparation for much of the work required of At-Large members of the Steering Committee, including: supporting committee work, planning and facilitating General Meetings and the Annual Convention, and implementing the newly ratified bylaws.

 

How can our Local improve and how will you contribute towards this as a Local Officer?

To fully implement our newly ratified chapter Bylaws and Misconduct Policy and continue to strengthen our chapter infrastructure, it will be important to develop robust supports for committee and working group Coordinators to increase collaboration across the chapter. Further, it will be critical to ensure development and implementation of chapter resources—such as the Ombudspeople—outlined in the Misconduct Policy and the Bylaws.

It will also be important to build on existing efforts and improve membership engagement across of all of Los Angeles’s diverse regions, and take collective steps to ensure all members are connected to meaningful committee and campaign-oriented work.