NPC Members Deny Quorum for Electoral Director Vote, Citing Transparency Concerns
Position remains unfilled after being first advertised in October 2022, DSA Observer reports
On Jan 16, 2023, nine NPC members published a statement, informing membership of their decision to abstain on a vote to approve a new DSA Electoral Director. Their move to abstain from voting as an organized block ensured that the quorum requirement could not be met, which guaranteed that the new appointment would not be made, but kept the candidate’s application on the table.
A joint statement published jointly by the NPC abstention votes details their reasoning and gives an outline of the events leading to the vote. They identify issues with transparency and accountability in the hiring process as the reason for denying quorum, as well as concerns about whether the candidate for the position adequately represents DSA’s political strategy of building political power independent from 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,” they said in their statement.
These same NPC members later produced a timeline of events in a Frequently Asked Questions document, which included some of the following information:
In November 2021, an unnamed NPC member motioned to appoint a specific individual to the not-yet-created Electoral Director position, effectively circumventing a competitive process. Nearly one year later the Electoral Director position was created. (The position was advertised in October 2022.)
On December 12th, Staff shared three candidates with the Personnel Committee (Ashik (Chair), Kara, Sofia, Sydney, Gustavo, and Maikiko J, Maria and Kristian (staff)). The NPC abstainers claim that some NPC members expressed interest in seeing the full list of applicants, and that the chair asserted that they were confident that the three candidates (one candidate dropped out of consideration on Dec. 14) were the strongest ones to fill this position. According to the document produced by the abstaining voters, the hiring process involved only one Director-level staff member reviewing, interviewing, and deciding on the first round of applications, and no NPC members were allowed to participate.
One month later, on Jan 12, 2023, immediately following National Staff recommending a candidate (the same candidate who was motivated in November 2021), voting began through email. The following day, NPC Member Sofia C. stated her intention to vote no, as all applications were not made available to the committee. In response to Sofia’s declaration, the Chair responded by inquiring if Sofia knew of any applicants, and stated that she could have asked, at any time, for them to be considered for this director-level position. Later that afternoon, the Chair of Personnel (an NPC member) informed the full NPC of their recommended candidate for Electoral Director, on behalf of the Personnel Committee, along with a recommendation for an immediate three-day Loomio vote, absent discussion or deliberation within the NPC regarding this candidate (or any other applicants).
On January 16th, the vote to appoint an Electoral Director failed because it did not reach quorum, due to the nine abstaining members. These NPC members 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.”
This action sparked days of discussion around the hiring process within DSA, whether or not there is a political aspect to staff and director roles, transparency concerns, and the way decision making works within the NPC. The NPC being asked to vote on the same candidate who was initially put forward a year prior, without being allowed to review all the potential applicants, they say, “does not instill confidence this was done fairly and as politically inclusive as possible.”
The National Electoral Committee published the 2021-22 National Electoral Strategy, building on the 2019 National Convention’s Resolution #31 “Class Struggle Elections,” in furthering DSA’s commitment to “encourage working-class organization” and “building political organization independent of the Democratic Party and their capitalist donors.”
In 2021, the NEC drafted Resolution #8 “Toward a Mass Party in the United States (Electoral Priority)” passed overwhelmingly. It reaffirmed DSA’s commitment to building a working-class party by making electoral politics a priority for DSA and local chapters for two years. Resolution #8 called for “devoting the time of two full-time organizers on national staff and to substantial resources over the next two years to build DSA’s independent socialist electoral infrastructure at the national level and in as many chapters as possible.”
While neither resolution, nor the National Electoral Strategy, advocated for hiring a director-level position, one was created in October 2022 in order to meet the desired salary of a prospective candidate, according the FAQ provided by some NPC members.
On January 24th, 2023, most NPC members shared this statement through Twitter or the internal DSA Forum or both:
“The NPC met tonight (in a non-voting meeting) to discuss how we move forward with supporting our electoral work through hiring and will be discussing concrete steps at our SC mtg this Friday. We will work together as leaders, in earnest, toward a positive outcome for the org.”
Later, on January 30, 2023, one NPC member updated the forum a few days after the January 27, 2023 call assuring members that the NPC is working together on a course of action. No further announcements have been made regarding the hiring of the Electoral Director.
Multiple inquiries with the chair of the Personnel Committee were made regarding the status of this position, but no response was received prior to publication of this piece. Updates will be provided if any response is received.
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