Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Yes on Portland Question 2: 42-day Pre-Election Report

Southern Maine DSA Endorses Yes on Portland Question 2: 42 Pre-Election Day Report

PORTLAND, ME – On Monday, October 15, at their general membership meeting, the Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted to endorse a charter amendment requiring all Portland municipal candidates to file a 42-day pre-election report disclosing their campaign donors. The referendum, conceived by Maine Citizens for Clean Elections and the League of Women Voters was introduced by Councilor Belinda Ray and passed by the Council on August 13, with only Councilor Kim Cook voting in opposition. A charter amendment requires citizen approval, and will appear to voters as Portland ballot Question 2 on the November 6th ballot.

Municipal candidates are currently required to disclose their donors 11 days before the election. However, by that time many voters have already cast early absentee ballots without the benefit of this information. Question 2 aims to fill this gap by mandating that candidates also disclose their sources of funding 42 days before the election. This additional report would match reporting requirements for state-level candidates.

“An informed electorate is foundational to a functioning democracy. Often it’s not the candidate’s agenda we need to understand, but that of their donors. Lack of transparency at the municipal level in Portland disenfranchises voters from the truth behind councilor votes,” said Kate Sykes, chapter secretary. “It’s time to open the blinds. Passing Question 2 is the first step toward a government that answers to the people of Portland.”

The DSA supports issues that align with its mission of organizing and empowering working class people in Southern Maine to stand together to improve our material and social conditions.

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. Its membership includes 35 elected officials around the country. Southern Maine DSA is endorsing six democratic socialists and one ballot question in the upcoming election.

For more information about the Southern Maine DSA, this press release, or its endorsement process, contact:

 

Meg Reilly, Chair  megcreilly@gmail.com

Mikayla Damon, Vice Chair mikayla.damon@gmail.com

Kate Sykes, Secretary kate_sykes_writer@yahoo.com

 

http://southernmainedsa.org/

http://www.dsausa.org/

 

Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Joey Brunelle for Portland City Council (At-Large)

PORTLAND – The Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted on Monday, August 20th, to endorse Joey Brunelle for Portland City Council (At-Large) in the November 2018 general election.

Brunelle, a member of DSA, is a former SMDSA Board member and is running on a progressive platform focused on building a city government that works for all residents, not just a wealthy few. Brunelle will work to strengthen the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance to require 18% affordable units, instead of the current 10%, the lowest in the nation. He will increase government transparency and accountability by working with citizen groups to implement a publicly accessible database of City Council voting records, video recordings and transcripts. He will also introduce a public financing program for municipal campaigns, to allow everyone to run for office to represent their community, not just those with connections to wealth. Brunelle has called for all candidates in Portland’s municipal races to take his clean campaign pledge to not accept any money from PACs, corporations, out-of-state donors, or real estate developers.

Joey came in second in a three-way race in 2017 against incumbent Jill Duson. This time he hopes to unseat 21-year incumbent Nick Mavodones. If elected, Joey will introduce term limits for Portland municipal offices.

“We’re all very excited about Joey’s run. He’s shown time and time again that he cares about Portland; he’s a skilled candidate; and he’s ready to govern. Joey has promised to channel socialist and otherwise egalitarian ideas into public policy. We know that Joey will be a responsive, enthusiastic, and progressive representative for working people,” says Caleb Horton, co-chair of SMDSA’s Endorsement Committee.

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. The DSA welcomes members and endorses candidates of any party affiliation who share its mission to decrease the influence of money in politics so that ordinary citizens can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.

Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Maia Dendinger for Maine State Senate, District 5

PORTLAND – The Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted nearly unanimously on Monday, August 20, to endorse Maia Dendinger for Maine State Senate (District 5) in the November 2018 general election. Dendinger, a dual member of SMDSA and the Socialist Party of Maine, is running as a Socialist Party USA candidate.

A Maine Clean Elections candidate, Dendinger is financing her campaign through public funds rather than corporate “donations.” Along with campaign finance, Maia has also made priorities of food justice, cooperative economics, universal healthcare, energy independence, and increased democracy. These issues are of particular importance to the constituents in legislative District 5, which includes Veazie, Orono, Old Town, Indian Island, Milford, Medway, East Millinocket, and Millinocket.

“I’m extremely honored to be endorsed by the Southern Maine DSA. I am looking forward to not only using this campaign as a means of sharing socialist ideas and perspectives, but also as a means of strengthening connections between DSA, the Socialist Party of Maine, and the working people of my district, to help us organize. We need to build a long-term movement to transform society. This campaign is about more than just one seat in the state senate – it is about bringing people together and planting seeds of hope and change for the future,” Dendinger says.

“Maia’s energy is infectious,” says Meg Reilly, SMDSA Chair. “We’re excited by not only her values and platform but by her clear compassion, empathy, and understanding of class struggle. We’re proud to endorse a proud socialist with a history of fighting for what’s right.”

To support her victory in November, and in the spirit of her movement-building work, SMDSA has voted to endorse Maia’s candidacy. We invite DSA members and members of the public to learn more about Dendinger’s campaign, support her campaign for District 5 in any way you can, and vote for her in November.

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. The DSA welcomes members and endorses candidates of any party affiliation who share its mission to decrease the influence of money in politics so that ordinary citizens can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.

For more information about the Southern Maine DSA or its endorsement process, contact:

Meg Reilly, Chair  megcreilly@gmail.com

Mikayla Damon, Vice Chair mikayla.damon@gmail.com

Kate Sykes, Secretary kate_sykes_writer@yahoo.com

Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Jon Torsch for Portland City Council, District 2

PORTLAND – The Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted unanimously on Monday, August 20, to endorse Jon Torsch for Portland City Council (District 2) in the November 2018 general election. Torsch, a member of the SMDSA Executive Board, is running for the first time.

Torsch is the only candidate for District 2 pledging to take no money from out-of-state donors, PACs, corporations, or real estate interests. If elected, Torsch will propose clean elections legislation at the municipal level, modeled after the state program of the same name. Torsch has also made priorities of participatory budgeting, open data, progressive property taxes, cooperative development, housing security, and public resource investments such as libraries and light rail.

“I am beyond excited and proud to have received the endorsement of the Southern Maine DSA. I have been organizing and doing activist work with this chapter for a while now, and to know that the membership body came together and unanimously endorsed my campaign shows real solidarity – that we are all in this together. I believe that collective action is the answer, and to have SMDSA behind me as a real grassroots organization, I know that we can win this seat and democratize the power that it holds,” says Torsch.

As socialists, we understand that elected officials can govern either on behalf of special moneyed interests, or on behalf of the great majority: working people. Torsch’s campaign promises to improve the lives of everyday Portlanders and amplify their political power. “Jon is a comrade and a friend. He has the energy, vision, and ideas to bring a fresh dose of democracy to city council,” says Caleb Horton, co-chair of SMDSA’s endorsements committee.

As his colleagues, the membership of SMDSA has seen that Torsch means what he says. We also understand that even the most diligent elected officials are constrained by the countervailing forces of the capitalist system. When working people organize in the workplace, the street, and the voting booth, we can overcome the power of exploitative bosses, destructive property speculators, and dictatorial social forces. Jon Torsch’s success depends on all of us.

SMDSA encourages its members and the general public to learn more about Torsch’s campaign, join his campaign for District 2 in any way they can, and vote for him in November.

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. The DSA welcomes members and endorses candidates of any party affiliation who share its mission to decrease the influence of money in politics so that ordinary citizens can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.

For more information about SMDSA or its endorsement process, contact:

Meg Reilly, Chair megcreilly@gmail.com

Mikayla Damon, Vice Chair mikayla.damon@gmail.com

Kate Sykes, Secretary kate_sykes_writer@yahoo.com

Southern Maine DSA Endorses the National Prison Strike

Southern Maine DSA Endorses the National Prison Strike

On August 21, a National Prison Strike began in 17 states, organized by the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated. This strike was called in response to a riot in a Bishopville, South Carolina prison, in which prison employees did nothing to quell the violence or tend to the injured. But this nationwide strike is about more than a single egregious act of violence against prisoners.

On Monday, August 20th, the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America voted to formally endorse this strike, as well as the 10 demands of those who organized it:

  1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
  2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
  3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
  4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
  5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
  6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
  7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
  8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
  9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
  10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count!

Our support for restoring the rights of prisoners and reasserting their humanity goes beyond this strike as well. The prison industrial complex is an oppressive institution that destroys lives, families, and communities for profit while actively keeping the legacy of slavery alive. This strike is one important step on the road to dismantling this unjust system, and it has our full endorsement.

Press Release: US Senate Candidate Zak Ringelstein Arrested outside McAllen, TX Child Internment Camp

For Immediate Release
June 22, 2018
Meg Reilly, Chair
megcreilly@gmail.com
US Senate Candidate Zak Ringelstein Arrested outside McAllen, TX Child Internment Camp

Portland, ME — Zak Ringelstein, the Maine Democratic Candidate for U.S. Senate running against incumbent Angus King, was arrested this morning outside a detention center in McAllen, Texas, where immigrant children are being held. Ringelstein, who is endorsed by the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) was attempting to deliver food, water, toys, blankets, and books to the children imprisoned there when he was detained by border patrol agents for blocking the delivery of new prisoners. “We have wiped out the entire bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy for these children, forcing them into trauma. These are thousands of people who will have… human rights violation stories from America,” said Ringelstein,the father of two young children and a former public school teacher. In a Facebook video posted to his website, Ringelstein can be seen sitting on the tailgate of a pick-up truck loaded with supplies while an agent questions him about what he is doing. “Americans have a right to know what is happening in these detention facilities,” Ringelstein says, adding that “America is becoming a brutal authoritarian dictatorship.”

Ringelstein won the Democratic Party nomination in June and will face off against the Corporatist incumbent, Angus King, in November. Ringelstein has been outspoken about the need to abolish ICE. He expresses frustration at the lack of accurate media coverage on King’s voting record on gun control and bank deregulation, as well as his numerous corporate and special interest campaign funding sources. “One of the reasons I’m running is to force those conversations into the open,” Ringelstein said.

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. Its membership includes 35 elected officials around the country.

For more information about the Southern Maine DSA or its endorsed candidates, contact:

Meg Reilly, Chair  megcreilly@gmail.com
Mikayla Damon, Vice Chair mikayla.damon@gmail.com
Kate Sykes, Secretary kate_sykes_writer@yahoo.com

Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Betsy Sweet in June primary for Maine State Governor

PORTLAND – The Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted on Monday, March 12 to endorse Betsy Sweet for Governor in the June, 2018 primary. Sweet is running as a Democrat in Maine’s first statewide Ranked Choice Voting primary.

“I am very pleased to be receiving the endorsement of the Southern Maine Chapter of the DSA. The people-powered, special-interest-proof coalition we are building is growing by the day. With over 3,500 maine people giving $5, this campaign is about ensuring the Blaine House can’t be bought by the NRA, big Pharma or the banking industry,” Sweet said.

Sweet’s primary campaign focus is getting corporate and special interest money out of politics, something she says is foundational to making progress on other issues. She helped write Maine’s public campaign financing law, the first in the country, and is now running as a Maine Clean Elections candidate. She supports universal healthcare coverage and will work to socialize the cost of that through a more progressive tax structure, while eliminating cost inefficiencies endemic to the current for-profit system. “I believe there is a great opportunity to work in compact with the five New England states to develop a viable single-payer system,” Sweet says.

Sweet is a proponent of Ranked Choice Voting and says she hopes it will bring more civility to Maine politics. Maine is the first state to implement the system in a state-wide election. Under Ranked Choice Voting, voters may rank multiple candidates in order of preference. If no victor emerges from the first-choice round, an instant run-off commences. In the absence of a strong frontrunner, second and third-choice candidates can win a majority of votes, a factor that benefits candidates who campaign to a broad spectrum of voters rather than on divisive issues, or against one another.

“It’s time for a state government that works for the many, not just the few,” Meg Reilly, SMDSA Chair said. “Sweet’s focus on fair representation and diversity, racial and economic justice, living wages, and healthcare as a human right make her an ideal emissary for DSA’s values and goals in Augusta.”

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. Its membership includes 35 elected officials around country. Southern Maine DSA is not a political party. The DSA welcomes members and endorses candidates of any party affiliation who share its mission to decrease the influence of money in politics so that ordinary citizens can participate in the many decisions that affect their lives.

For more information about the Southern Maine DSA or its endorsement process, contact:

Meg Reilly, Chair  megcreilly@gmail.com

Mikayla Damon, Vice Chair mikayla.damon@gmail.com

Kate Sykes, Secretary kate_sykes_writer@yahoo.com

Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Zak Ringelstein for US Senate

Southern Maine DSA Endorses Zak Ringelstein for US Senate

PORTLAND, ME – The Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted on Monday, March 12 to endorse Zak Ringelstein for US Senate. In August, the National DSA endorsed the campaign, making Ringelstein, the only candidate for US Senate to be endorsed by the organization.

Ringelstein, a DSA member, has pledged to take no money from PACs, corporations, or special interest groups in order to be a true public servant who only answers to voters. He intends to introduce and support legislation to reverse Citizens United, end corporate campaign lobbying, and institute a federal voting holiday to make the polls more accessible to working people.

“As socialists, we are fundamentally opposed to the idea that corporate money has any place in politics, or even a fair and equitable society,” said Meg Reily, SMDSA Chair. “We’re happy to endorse someone who would prioritize reversing Citizens United and increasing voting rights, two issues that go hand-in-hand,” Reilly said.

“As a public school teacher and the son of a social worker, I am blown away by the way the DSA truly fights to increase the power of working Americans. It is not just an honor to receive their endorsement; we are now a mightier force for change because of the hundreds of passionate DSA members at our side who are ready to get money out of politics and unrig the system to create a more free, democratic, and humane society for all,” said Ringelstein.

Ringelstein came to politics from a former career as a public school teacher. As a rank-and-file union member, he helped form and lead PowerToPublic, a teacher-led campaign to expose billionaire Betsy DeVos’s attempts to defund our public schools. He wants to enact democratic socialist reform in Washington, including Medicare for All, public ownership of natural resources, including groundwater, increasing protections on public land, holding corporations accountable for their emissions, and divesting from fossil fuels. He supports medicare for all and full, publicly-funded reproductive healthcare for women, including abortion. He condemns the human rights abuses perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians and the US’s part in funding these actions, and he rejects the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel.

Ringelstein is running unopposed in the Democratic primary and will face off against Independent incumbent Angus King in the Fall. Ringelstein expresses frustration at the lack of accurate media coverage on King’s voting record on gun control, as well as King’s sources of campaign financing. “One of the reasons I’m running is to force those conversations into the open,” Ringelstein said.

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. Its membership includes 35 elected officials around country. Southern Maine DSA is not a political party. The DSA welcomes members and endorses candidates of any party affiliation who share its mission to decrease the influence of money in politics so that ordinary citizens can participate in the many decisions that affect their lives.

*This press release has been update to reflect Zak’s membership status and the endorsement of National DSA.

Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Seth Levy in June primary for District Attorney, Cumberland County

For Immediate Release
March 22, 2018
Meg Reilly, Chair
megcreilly@gmail.com

Southern Maine DSA Endorses Seth Levy in June primary for District Attorney, Cumberland County

PORTLAND, ME – The Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted overwhelmingly on Monday, March 12 to endorse Seth Levy for Cumberland County District Attorney in the June Democratic Party primary. Levy is the first District Attorney candidate in the group’s history to earn an endorsement.

“I’m grateful to receive the endorsement of SMDSA,” Levy said. “Its members are some of the hardest working activists for progressive change. Having their support means more volunteers on the ground to get the word out about the opportunity to make criminal justice reform a reality.”

Levy’s platform highlights necessary criminal justice reform for Cumberland County. In particular, it focuses on expanding restorative justice as a more effective means of crime reduction. His success in addressing substance abuse disorders within the Veterans Court system, and his plan to try similar approaches in southern Maine, is a sorely needed new approach to dealing with the severe opioid crisis.

Levy also promises not to seek cash bail for low-risk defendants, so that they can remain employed, not separated from their families, and get into treatment when necessary,” according to his campaign website. Cash bail disproportionately impacts poor people, people of color, and drives defendants deeper into poverty, irrespective of the outcome of their case.“The evidence is clear that cash bail has little impact on public safety or making sure that defendants show up to court. Cash bail keeps people who are poor in jail,” Levy said.

“As Democratic Socialists, we know that class, power, and race all intersect in the criminal justice system,” said Meg Reilly, SMDSA Chair. “The current system blatantly treats rich and poor people differently. As District Attorney, Seth Levy would end cash bail, an archaic and classist system. The amount of money in your bank account should never factor into how you experience the criminal justice system. We look forward to Cumberland County leading the way in reforming our justice system to ensure that we’re rehabilitating, not punishing, members of our society,” Reilly said.

Levy is running a campaign funded by small individual donors, free of corporate, PAC, and special interest money. His campaign seeks to address the over-incarceration of people with mental illness, substance use disorders, and people living in poverty.

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. Its membership includes 35 elected officials around country. Southern Maine DSA is not a political party. The DSA welcomes members and endorses candidates of any party affiliation who share its mission to decrease the influence of money in politics so that ordinary citizens can participate in the many decisions that affect their lives.

For more information about the Southern Maine DSA or its endorsement process, contact:

Meg Reilly, Chair  megcreilly@gmail.com
Mikayla Damon, Vice Chair mikayla.damon@gmail.com
Kate Sykes, Secretary kate_sykes_writer@yahoo.com

http://southernmainedsa.org/
http://www.dsausa.org/

Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Mike Sylvester for Maine State Representative, District 39

Southern Maine DSA Endorses Mike Sylvester for Maine State Representative, District 39

PORTLAND, ME – The Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted unanimously on Monday, March 12 to endorse Mike Sylvester for Maine House of Representatives District 39. In August, the national DSA also endorsed Sylvester, who is running for a second term, is a co-founder of SMDSA and the chapter’s first member to be elected to a state-level office.

“We’ve always been incredibly proud to be home to one of two open democratic socialist state representatives in the country,” said Meg Reilly, SMDSA Chair. “Mike is a longtime union organizer who walks the walk in the state house, and we’re looking forward to another term of him representing democratic socialist ideals in Maine’s capital.”

Sylvester currently sits on the House Labor Committee and serves as Organizing Chair of the Bull Moose Caucus, a body of 37 legislators willing to vote for progressive legislation regardless of Party affiliation.

During his term of office he has submitted many bills founded on socialist principles, including the Local Option Sales Tax bill to spread the financial benefits of tourism statewide and lower property taxes. He supports single payer healthcare and has been active in helping to pass ranked choice voting. He is a proponent of public sector right to strike, worker safety, safe consumption sites for opiods, and living wage legislation.

“I hope to speak and cast my vote for the people who are left out of the political process or who have given up hope that anyone is listening. An endorsement by groups like Southern Maine DSA, groups who are working on the ground and having conversations about how our state can be better, those are the groups whose endorsements mean the most to me,” Sylvester said.

Sylvester is running as a Maine clean elections candidate, and has pledged not to accept campaign money from corporations, lobbyists, or PACs. He is currently working to organize more DSA chapters across the state of Maine, and recruiting and mentoring democratic socialist candidates who wish to run for office.

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. Its membership includes 35 elected officials around country. Southern Maine DSA is not a political party. The DSA welcomes members and endorses candidates of any party affiliation who share its mission to decrease the influence of money in politics so that ordinary citizens can participate in the many decisions that affect their lives.

*This release has been update to reflect the endorsement of the national DSA.