Press Release: SMDSA Releases 2018 Annual Report

For Immediate Release

January 21, 2019

Kate Sykes, Co-Chair

Jon Torsch, Co-Chair


Southern Maine DSA Files 2018 Annual Report

PORTLAND, ME – The Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America announced today that it has published its annual report for the calendar year ending December 31, 2018. The full report may be viewed here.

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is a grassroots, member-led organization whose goal is to build a mass socialist movement. Southern Maine DSA (SMDSA) was incorporated in 2017 and includes DSA members who live and/or work in Maine’s First Congressional District. According to our bylaws, DSA members who live and/or work in Maine’s Second Congressional District are also members by default of SMDSA until a chapter is formed in their area.

2018 was a year of rapid growth for DSA both nationally and in Maine. National membership grew from 32,000 to 55,000, with the number of local chapters increasing from 40 to 181. 2018 also saw the first two DSA members elected to the United States House of Representatives: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Rashida Tlaib (MI-13).

Southern Maine DSA started the year with roughly 120 dues-paying members in Cumberland and York Counties, growing to roughly 180 by mid-year. In July, they petitioned National for a complete list of dues-paying members in all of Maine and began outreach to these members for the purpose of organizing statewide. They had roughly 300 members statewide in July, with over 360 by the end of the year.

As a result, they formed an Eastern branch on October 15th covering Penobscot County; and a Midcoast branch on November 12th covering Lincoln, Knox, Sagadahoc, and Waldo Counties.

For more information about the Southern Maine DSA or this press release call 207-331-5373 or contact us by email at:

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 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

Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Earned Paid Sick Time for All Portland Workers

For Immediate Release

July 12, 2018

Meg Reilly, Chair

Southern Maine DSA Endorses Earned Paid Sick Time for All Portland Workers

PORTLAND, ME – On June 18, the Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted unanimously to support the proposed Paid Sick Time Ordinance currently being debated in the Portland City Council’s Health and Human Services subcommittee. The proposal, written by the Southern Maine Workers’ Center and the Maine Women’s Lobby, and sponsored by Mayor Ethan Strimling, seeks to guarantee paid sick leave to all Portland workers.

An estimated 19,000 Portland workers do not currently have paid sick leave. The proposal as it is written would allow all workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum requirement of 6 days accumulated per year of employment. The proposal includes a universal definition of family, giving Portland workers the ability to used paid sick days to care for loved ones as they define them.

The Portland ordinance is crucial to keeping Portland workers healthy as well as economically secure. “All workers, regardless of age, seasonality of work, or other factors should be able to rest when ill or take care of ill family members without the repercussions of missing a paycheck. Daily in my clinic, I see how economically and emotionally stressed patients are when they have to miss work for medical needs,” said DSA member and local primary care physician Krys Bigosinski, MD. “This proposal will go a long way toward allowing greater access to medical care for working families, and will also decrease the spread of illness to those who may come into contact with individuals who are working while ill. In a city like Portland, where so much of our economy is based in the caregiving and food service industries, this type of legislation is important for public health,” Bigosinski said.

There are now 8 states and over 30 cities that have similar paid sick leave ordinances. Recently, the Austin, TX chapter of the DSA was instrumental in bringing the first such legislation to a city in the southern United States. SMDSA is proud to become a partner in the campaign to bring the city of Portland into the leadership circle on this issue.

The DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. Its membership includes 35 elected officials around the country. Southern Maine DSA is not a political party. 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.

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


My Socialist Roots

By Ken Bailey

My parents were children of the Great Depression, living on government cheese and powdered eggs. Dad was a WWII vet who worked in the Post Office. Mom was a nurse who started as a Nurse’s Aide and went to night school at Bellevue Hospital in New York City to complete her R.N. degree. Dad was a rank and file member of the fledgling U.S. Postal Workers Union, and Mom worked with the Hospital Workers Union in the early 1960’s. In my neighborhood, the Pullman Porters Union had three members within a block of my house. They voted for Democrats, except when they voted for Eisenhower in 1952.

It was the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War which made me see the necessity of an alternative to the Democratic Party. People like W.E.B. Dubois, founder of the NAACP, and A. Philip Randolph, President of the Pullman Porters Union, were Socialist. And I read about Eugene Debs in college. They convinced me that the Democrats were too compromised to advance the country.

Ken Baily speaks at an anti-war demonstration in Columbus Ohio, 1970

I learned about the Veteran Bonus Marchers of the 1930’s and how they were beaten by soldiers and trampled by mounted police. The Republic Steel Strike Massacre of 1937: 10 dead, 30 wounded by police gunfire, all white. The Civil Rights workers, killed in the 1960’s: black and white comrades, martyrs for a better America. It became clear to me that the working class, white and black, had the same class enemy.

We have to unite – whether it’s at the border in Texas, at the Keystone Pipeline, around women’s choice, gay rights, or Black Lives Matter. It is the same corporate forces aligned against our interests.

I want to leave you with a quote from a fallen comrade named Fred Hampton, Deputy Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party, who was murdered by the Chicago police:

“You don’t fight fire with fire. You fight fire with water…We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We’re gonna fight capitalism with socialism. Socialism is the people. If you’re afraid of socialism, you’re afraid of yourself.”

Every month, we ask a member to share their story of what Democratic Socialism means to them. If you’re interested in telling yours, please email the chair.


Heavy Rotation: May Day! May Day!

By Kate Sykes

Every year on May 1st, International Workers Day is celebrated in Europe with massive demonstrations that honor an American labor uprising: the Haymarket strike of 1886, when hundreds of thousands of American workers set down the tools of their trade and took to the streets for better wages and working conditions.

In Episode 33 of Season of the Bitch, writer and labor organizer Jane McAlevey talks about how working conditions leading up to the original May Day strike were remarkably similar to those faced by Amazon warehouse workers today, and how the real aim of labor organizing is building the kind of working class solidarity that makes formerly mild-mannered secretaries plot to abduct their boss and take over the company themselves…. because there’s a better life, and you think about it, don’t you?

What’s in your heavy rotation? Email your favorite listens to us at: