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Joint Statement on Abstentions from Electoral Director Vote
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Joint Statement on Abstentions from Electoral Director Vote

Tuesday, January 17th

Update: Since there seem to be a lot of accusations and misrepresentations being thrown around, we felt the need to provide additional information on what is happening, why we took the steps we did, and clarify the timeline of events. You can find that document here.

On Monday, January 16th, we, the undersigned, decided to abstain as a bloc from a vote to hire a specific candidate for the new Electoral Director position, therefore ensuring its failure by denying the vote quorum.

While we are an ideologically diverse group, none of us are yet convinced that this candidate aligns best with the politics of the members that we specifically represent (be that supporters of class struggle elections/dirty break, party surrogacy, or organizational and political class independence). Furthermore, at our 2019 convention, DSA committed to breaking with the Democrats in the long term. And at our 2021 convention, we reaffirmed the project of building working-class power independent of the Democratic Party. We believe that the Electoral Director should align with this vision of building an independent socialist electoral project and show an understanding of the limits of coalition with even the most progressive wings of the Democratic Party. Before voting for such a candidate, we must be given the opportunity to have a full political discussion regarding this position, the candidates who applied, and how all of this relates to our electoral strategy.

We also have concerns about this hiring process. The majority of the Personnel Committee–a group of some National Political Committee (NPC) members, senior staff, and appointed members that oversees hiring and other staff concerns–put forward this candidate for the NPC to vote on and insisted they were the most qualified. However, we were prevented from considering alternative candidates who may better align politically with a broader section of the NPC and who also have the experience necessary for the Electoral Director position. During any hiring process, only the Operations Director sees all the applications and decides which ones the Personnel Committee and ultimately the NPC considers. When an NPC member on the Personnel Committee asked staff to share all applicants with the full NPC, the majority on this committee refused.

Additionally, back in our first NPC meeting in November 2021, a member of the NPC motioned to simply appoint this candidate to a director-level position that did not yet exist without a competitive process because they would not take less than a director-level salary. They were asked to wait until Personnel could go through the process of creating an Electoral Director position first, and go through the proper steps. Over the next year, Personnel and the broader NPC created and voted on DSA to have an Electoral Director, along with an Electoral organizer (because for a director-level position to exist, it must directly oversee other staff). We are now voting on the same candidate that was originally motioned for, without access to see the other applicants. This entire process does not instill confidence this was done fairly and as politically inclusive as possible.

This is not the first instance of committees or senior staff not immediately sharing all details with the full NPC, thus requiring a formal motion from the NPC to compel such disclosures. When it comes to hiring staff--especially for important positions like the Electoral Director--NPC should have all the information as they are often highly political roles, especially Director-level positions. The fact that we don’t shows the real need for more democratic oversight over staffing in this organization.

As of this writing, we and other members of the NPC have suggested moving forward by 1)  making all applications available to the full NPC for this and all other positions going forward; 2) Convening a full NPC meeting to deliberate on the candidates and the political consideration in regards to electoral strategy; 3) Developing a work plan for this position that prioritizes class struggle elections and political independence, and allows more member oversight over the position; and 4) organizing another pre-convention mass call in the form of a public debate about our electoral strategy before the NPC votes. We look forward to this course of action as such deliberations are crucial for the healthy development of the organization.  However, we also plan on continuing transparently addressing the broader membership with the challenges we see facing the organization.

Signed,

Marvin G.
Kara H.
Sofia C.
Jake C.
Leena Y.
Jenbo
Justin C.
Laura G.
Jen M.