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

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 DSA.SouthernMaine@Gmail.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.

Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Bob Maheu in June primary for Maine State Representative, District 65

For Immediate Release
March 22, 2018
Meg Reilly, Chair

Southern Maine DSA Endorses Bob Maheu in June primary for Maine State Representative, District 65

PORTLAND, ME – The Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted on Monday, March 12 to endorse DSA member Bob Maheu for Maine House of Representatives District 65 in the June Democratic Party primary.

“I am pleased and honored to receive the endorsement of the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists,” Maheu said. “The chapter’s previous endorsements were for candidates running for office in the city of Portland, and now they’re supporting someone from the northernmost part of Cumberland County.”

The chapter endorses democratic socialist and anti-corporate candidates running in York and Cumberland counties who are committed to decreasing the influence of money in politics, making gender and cultural relationships more equitable, increasing the power of working class people over corporate interests and acting as public stewards for environmental resources.

“It’s really exciting to have an endorsed candidate from District 65,” said Meg Reilly, SMDSA Chair. “It goes to show that Democratic Socialism isn’t just for Portlanders. Organizers are currently expanding into the Bangor, Lewiston, and MidCoast areas as well. We’re really proud to endorse Bob for the New Gloucester and Poland area,” Reilly said.

Maheu, a former town Councilor in Fairfield, was inspired to enter state politics after serving as a volunteer on the Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential election campaign, knocking on doors in his district for Senator Sanders.

Maheu speaks passionately about the need for the state to intervene in the opioid epidemic and says drug companies should be held financially accountable for the crisis. Maheu, who completed the AFL-CIO candidate training in January of this year, is a strong supporter of organized labor. He is currently seeking qualifying donation for a Maine Clean Elections campaign and has pledged to take no money from corporations or PACs. “We must all work together to eliminate pay-to-play politics,” Maheu stated in his endorsement interview.

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 DSA.SouthernMaine@Gmail.com

 

http://southernmainedsa.org/

http://www.dsausa.org/

 

 

Press Release: Southern Maine DSA Endorses Jeremy Mele in June primary for Maine State Representative, District 19

Southern Maine DSA Endorses Jeremy Mele for Maine State Representative, District 19

PORTLAND, ME – The Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted unanimously on Monday, March 12 to endorse Jeremy Mele for Maine House of Representatives District 19. “We’re incredibly lucky to have a candidate like Jeremy running for office,” said Meg Reilly, Chair. “Jeremy’s compassion and drive shone when he was Vice Chair of our chapter, and we’re excited at the prospect of Representative Mele continuing the fight in Augusta.”

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of the group,” Mele said, “I like to think it’s because I showed a commitment to the principles of Democratic Socialism and because I am campaigning on issues that are important for the wellbeing of society and the working class.”

Mele’s campaign focuses on a defense of direct democracy via citizen’s referendums, something that he notes representatives in Augusta have been reluctant to respect in recent years. According to his campaign blog, Maine state government “has moved away from respecting democracy and the will of the voters, and it has moved toward a paternalism that indicates a disregard for the wants and needs of Maine voters.”

Mele is an ardent supporter of social policies that empower the working class, including single-payer healthcare, increasing the minimum wage, and reducing the cost of post-secondary education. He supports the current referendum campaign to provide Mainers with universal homecare coverage.

Mele is a Maine clean elections candidate, and will not be accepting any campaign money from corporations, lobbyists or PACs.

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 Jeremy’s status as a Maine clean elections campaign candidate.

What we achieved cannot be measured in votes (yet).

An open letter to our candidates, volunteers and community partners.

Brothers and Sisters,

When I took on the assignment of running our “Get Out the Working Class Vote” campaign several months ago, I did it because I believed in our endorsed candidates and ballot issues and because, as the chairperson of the Community Outreach and Education Committee, I saw it as an opportunity to reach out to members of our community with a message of working class power.

Despite the recent swell of support for democratic socialism among millennials and Bernie Sanders voters, the “s”-word is still a dirty one to many. It has been my goal during this campaign to raise awareness for and correct the public perception of socialism by papering the town red with our flyers and forcing mainstream media outlets to print the word “socialism” as many times as possible in the context of working class solidarity and participatory democracy. Every letter-to-the-editor we wrote, every friendly greeting on every doorstep, every phone call, conversation, and email message has brought us one step closer to showing people that the aim of socialism is not state power, but rather people power. It’s about ordinary citizens working together to decide how our government, economy, environment, and society are run.

Many voters are still leery of the “s”-word, but the results of this election prove that they’re not scared of socialism, itself. Passing Medicaid expansion is socialism! Defeating a casino license mercenary who would sell our state referendum process to the highest bidder is socialism! Demanding that our public schools receive funding is socialism! Sending a message to wealthy donors, political elites, and developers that money cannot buy a seat on Portland City Council is socialism! Around the country yesterday, DSA won 15 elections. That is socialism!

Together we hand-delivered 3,000 Southern Maine DSA palm cards to voters in Portland. The hours and hours our members spent working on the Fair Rent, Joey Brunelle, and Marpheen Chann campaigns, the support of our leadership team, and the assistance of our community partners made this possible. I would like to thank all of you who came together to help, and express my deepest gratitude for your knowledge, humor and support along the way.

Together, we spread a message of hope for a better, fairer, and more equitable society, and we did it in the name of democratic socialism. The Southern Maine DSA is grateful to have such hardworking, honest, and kind folks in our fold. We may not have achieved everything we wanted to with this election, but this is just the beginning. Capitalism is a cruel, overbearing system. It and its defenders, are powerful…and we wounded them. We showed the power that the working class has when we come together, and, next time, we will use the lessons of this election to achieve even more. A better world is possible, and we now know that we have the numbers and the will to bring that possibility about.

With any power struggle worth undertaking, there are tremendous risks involved, and we should never underestimate or undersell those risks, nor dismiss the hurt that many of our brothers and sisters are feeling today. That is why this message of thanks is also a call to action: now is the time for those of you who have been holding our flank to push to the front of the line so that we can tend to our wounded, assess our losses, and regain our strength. Electoral politics is only one small part of organizing for power, and there are many more battles to be won.

In solidarity,

Kate Sykes

Press Release: SMDSA Endorses Marpheen Chann for Portland City Council District 5

For Immediate Release

In a meeting of the general membership on August 14, 2017 at Portland City Hall, the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted to endorse Marpheen Chann for Portland City Council District 5. Chann is the second candidate to be endorsed by the chapter, after Joey Brunelle, who is running for an at-large seat on the Council. “I’m really excited that we now have two endorsed candidates running for City Council. But I’m especially proud of the deep democracy we practiced as we discussed and voted on the candidates as a group,” said SMDSA Chair Chris Teret.

Chann joins a growing list of DSA-endorsed city council candidates around the country who identify with the ideals of the democratic socialist movement, and feel empowered to say so by the swell of public support for the Bernie Sanders campaign. “I’m honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of the Southern Maine Democratic Socialists of America and look forward to getting out the working class vote and making city government work for working people,” Chann said.

At 25,000 members and growing, the DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. “People are sick and tired of politics that puts profits over people, and democratic socialism espouses the values of a government by, for, and of the people. Like many, I used to get hung up on the word socialist, but democratic socialism aims to make us a more democratic society, by fighting for economic and social justice and working people,” Chann said.

Chann’s campaign platform emphasizes consensus building and fostering community and civic engagement. He supports reforming Tax Increment Financing (TIF) negotiations so they benefit Portland’s skilled laborers and the local economy, not out-of-state workers. “We need to grow a thriving, fair economy with jobs that pay living wages and paid sick time,” Chann said.

His plan to make housing affordable includes introducing checks and balances on landlords to give renters adequate bargaining power, while also establishing a citizen advisory committee to oversee the city’s Housing Trust Fund to ensure it is being used to alleviate the shortage of affordable housing for low and median income households. “We need to make Portland truly a city for everyone, not just for those who can afford the skyrocketing rents and property taxes,” Chann said.

As a graduate of USM and Maine Law, Chann envisions the city working with our universities to help spur innovation and create high-tech and good paying jobs. Establishing a robust internship program for college and grad students will also help students get real-world experience prior to graduation. He hopes to invest in public education, while also bringing property tax relief to Portland residents, by building a broad coalition of cities and towns to hold the State accountable for full funding of all public schools.

If anyone can build such solidarity, it is Chann, who describes himself as a bridge builder and maintains close ties with the Democratic Party. He believes strongly in a democratic, deliberative process that fosters inclusion and makes sure no one is left out or left unheard. “The SMDSA empowers people from the grassroots up and we need all hands on deck if we truly want to build a city and democratic society for everyone,” he said.

The SMDSA is not a political party and endorses candidates of any political party who share the chapter’s goals of decreasing the influence of money in politics, making gender and cultural relationships more equitable, increasing the power of marginalized and working class people over corporate interests, and advancing environmental stewardship in the region.

For more information please contact us at DSA.SouthernMaine@Gmail.com

 

Southern Maine DSA Endorses Joey Brunelle for Portland City Council

Monday July 24, 2017

For Immediate Release:

The Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) voted overwhelmingly on Monday, July 17 to endorse Joey Brunelle for Portland City Council. Brunelle is the first candidate to be endorsed by the chapter. “We’re proud to continue the energy of the Bernie Sanders campaign and bring it to the local level with our first endorsed candidate,” said Chris Teret, Southern Maine DSA Chair. “We need a voice for the working class in city government, not another friend to the real estate developers and the business class that currently dominates the council. Joey Brunelle is an intelligent, articulate voice for the interests of the working class majority.”

In response to the chapter’s endorsement, Brunelle said, “The Democratic Socialists of America is the single fastest-growing political action group in the country right now. They’re hard-working, everyday Americans who believe strongly in the democratic process and who are fighting for economic and social justice at every level. It’s an honor to have the endorsement of such an energized, principled group of people.”

Brunelle is running in the at-large race on a platform of affordability that includes rent stabilization and property tax relief for Portland residents. “I believe we need to take care of everyone in society, including those who don’t have the means to take care of themselves, and we need to make decisions about how to do that in a more collaborative and participatory way,” Brunelle said. He also intends to improve and expand public transportation, lead municipal efforts to fight climate change, support and empower public schools, and make government more transparent and accessible to all. His plan to bring participatory budgeting to Portland will give residents more say in how their neighborhood allocates city funds. “I believe the people who know best what a neighborhood needs are the people who live there,” Brunelle said. Similar models are currently used by over one thousand cities worldwide.

The Southern Maine DSA is adding its grassroots volunteer energy to Brunelle’s all volunteer campaign, which is not accepting funds from PACs, real estate developers, or out of state donors. “I’m running a clean election campaign because I want to be accountable only to the residents of Portland,” Brunelle said. Chapter members are expected to knock on hundreds of doors in Portland this summer to get out the working class vote for Brunelle.

Portland City Council races are non-partisan, and the 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 us at DSA.SouthernMaine@Gmail.com