Statements For & Against DSA-LA endorsement of Nithya Raman for CD4
Click here to view the final hour-long member debate considering the chapter's endorsement of the candidate.
Statements in Favor:
Vote YES on endorsing Nithya Raman for CD4
Summary: Nithya's run for CD4 represents the best opportunity for DSA LA in 2020.
DSA-LA Endorsing Nithya Raman is Crucial
Summary: An explanation of why the organization should endorse Nithya Raman.
Over my time organizing in DSA-LA’s electoral politics committee - both in leadership and in rank-and-file - I’ve seen quite a few candidates come to our chapter for our endorsement. Our chapter has endorsed some wonderful and inspiring candidates, including (but not limited to) Jackie Goldberg, who was recently elected to the school board in a landslide.
It is paramount that we continue our growth in local electoral organizing - in tandem with our work for Bernie Sanders - to grow our roots locally. Nithya Raman's campaign is one that we absolutely must vote to endorse as an organization.
Nithya Raman is a unique candidate and campaign we cannot let pass by without us. Her candidacy and election can galvanize and radicalize politics both in Los Angeles and nationally. We, as an organization, have an incredible opportunity to advance a local member into a massive seat of power.
To understand the power of this election, you have to understand that the Los Angeles City Council is extremely undemocratically structured. The country's largest city of New York City sits 51 members in its city council. The third-largest city of Chicago sits 50. The second-largest city in the country - our home of Los Angeles, and the home of our 4 million neighbors - only sits 15. That is too much power for one seat, and the city council must be restructured. But until we can do so, we must recognize how imperative that is is fair representation for the 250,000 Angelenos in the Los Angeles City Council's 4th district.
I believe that Nithya Raman is the candidate to serve that responsibility.
There is plenty to explore about Nithya Raman's views and records - I suggest you take a look through her questionnaire. I think it's truly impressive and lines up with our values. So much, it seems, it feels like some experienced DSA-LA organizers might've answered the questions themselves. Her campaign and our organization share a massive number of our coalition partners, including the LA Tenants Union, Ground Game, LA Street Watch, KTown for All, and Sunrise Movement LA. We should join them again by endorsing Nithya Raman.
It is obvious to see what the elections of member-candidates like Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Julia Salazar and Dean Preston have down or our movement and our organization. The power resulting from these DSA campaigns are manifold. They've expanded awareness of socialism and DSA, shifted the Overton window, grown membership, introduced radical legislation, built power with others in our shared struggle, and so much more.
Nithya Raman is a proud socialist and a proud local member. She - and her campaign - has the ability to win this election. It would be a massive step towards a socialist future for CD4, for Los Angeles, for the country, and the world. To not to endorse her would be a catastrophic mistake for our chapter.
DSA chapters in New York, Detroit, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Chicago have seen the incredible power their elected members have had in changing the political fabric of their cities.
It is time for Los Angeles to join them.
Author: Alex Wolinetz
Nithya 4444 The City!
Summary: Nithya aligns with our politics at a macro level, and we need a W on this city council, and she can absolutely defeat David Ryu, who is garbage.
Nithya Raman is running in my district, CD4, and she feels like the perfect candidate at a very necessary time. David Ryu is trash, and co-opted the "get money out of city council" language to somehow be known as the anti-corruption candidate...he's accepted money from lobbying interests in Morocco and Qatar, which are for surely not in CD4, and he then coincidentally got married in Morocco last month! I'm sure you folks know that David Ryu sucks. I'd love to see DSA-LA endorse Nithya Raman because she can win this race, and after Loraine's tough loss, it would be great to actually get a W. I've been to Nithya's house several times, and the campaign is full of DSA-adjacent people from all walks of life and all callings throughout this city...her housing, climate and public transportation platforms are genuinely inspiring and, in my opinion, align with what DSA-LA has been canvassing for in various campaigns since I joined in 2017. Her grassroots campaign has taken interest in/volunteered for some of our NOlympics "Homes Not Hotels" canvasses, and in turn I've seen a few different DSA folks at Saturday Nithya canvasses! I think this is a no-brainer and I wanted to voice my opinion right quick. Cheers!
Author: Steven Louis
Climate Justice endorses Nithya
Summary: The climate justice committee voted unanimously to recommend Nithya on the basis of her housing and environmental platform and her answers to our q&a.
Nithya hired people from DSA-LA’s climate justice committee for her campaign. She came to our committee to discuss her environmental platform. We were impressed with how much her platform reflects our own priorities: realism about the urgency of the climate crisis, a commitment to energy democracy and public ownership of utilities, a just transition for workers as we move off fossil fuels and onto renewables quickly, mandatory setbacks for existing oil infrastructure, investment in public transit and green spaces, sensible water use and more.
Nithya spoke passionately about her work with leftist groups in India, anti-harassment work in Hollywood, and her current efforts to address the housing crisis. She has a clear critique of LA’s housing problems and how they intersect with climate issues.
It’s worth our time to put Nithya on City Council. It looks like her 2 main opponents are vying for a similar slice of the electorate, giving Nithya a realistic shot at winning. She sought our endorsement early on because she knew her political goals align with ours. Her campaign is an opportunity to educate voters about the real antagonists behind our crises, from climate to housing. And our membership numbers within her district give us some obligation to invest in this race.
Author: Evan Geary, Climate Justice co-chair
A recommendation is more appropriate.
Summary: A great candidate that deserves our support but not our endorsement.
Nithya Raman is a great candidate and a huge upgrade for CD4 and the city of LA. However, I feel that it is important to be judicious with our endorsements. An endorsement from our chapter carries with it chapter resources, whether it is coordinated or an IE. While our goals and ideology may often align, it seems against our current priorities to endorse candidates that have not endorsed Bernie Sanders, (a very low bar to clear for a candidate in California.) Nor do not think it serves our chapter politically to grant ourselves as a resource to candidates that don't consider themselves socialists or do not directly advocate for socialism as a political philosophy, ("I don't know if I would public embrace myself as a socialist because that's never been part of my identity" 58:13 11/22/19 DSA-LA Q&A) Personally I would love to have a DSA member sitting on LA City Council and while this is an attractive opportunity to reach that goal, I think our chapter and mission would be better served to withhold our endorsement and focus on developing a candidate and strategy for a seat available in the 2022 election. I'd be happy to give Nythia Raman a recommendation from the chapter and if I lived in CD4 I'd gladly vote for her, but an endorsement does not seem suitable for the chapter at this time.
Author: Erin O'Neal-Robinson
Recommend rather than endorse.
Summary: While Nithya is a great candidate whom we should recommend, an endorsement is not warranted.
Nithya Raman is a great candidate with strong housing policies. She's worked in coalition with some of our committees (HnH, Streetwatch, NOlympics). She certainly be an upgrade for CD4. But with all of that said, we should not endorse her simply because she's a good candidate. We need to reserve our endorsements for candidates who are more explicitly associated with DSA or the ideals of democratic socialism and anti-capitalism. As one comrade noted at the debate, she spoke of utilizing market-based solutions rather than identifying the true problem: capitalism. Also, when directly asked at a Q&A session, she chose not to identify herself as a socialist and sidestepped the question of whether she would endorse Bernie Sanders for President. In her questionnaire, she noted that while she supports Bernie Sanders, she also believes that there are other good candidates running, namely noted capitalist Elizabeth Warren. Again, this indicates a misunderstanding of the root of the problems both we and she fight against.
It is worth noting that amongst those who were present at the debate, the majority spoke in opposition to the endorsement. The statements in support of the endorsement were, at best, tepid. This alone speaks volumes as to why we should not endorse. I'm sure many of us would love to have a DSA-LA member on the city council and there is a sense of urgency with this upcoming election but I don't think we should rush to endorse someone just because we want an endorsed candidate in 2020. Again, Nithya is a good candidate but we shouldn't be in the business of endorsing every good candidate. We need to hold a higher standard lest our endorsements become watered down.
Furthermore, there is still the question of resources. As a chapter, we voted on 3 priority resolutions. We need to focus our energy there and it is unclear as to whether we would be able to coordinate any of the work toward those resolutions with a campaign for Nithya. I would encourage the chapter to recommend Nithya in a voter guide but withhold endorsement.
Author: Staci O.