NYC-DSA City Convention

  • Judson Memorial Church 55 Washington Square South New York, NY, 10012 United States

The 2017 NYC-DSA City Convention

To download the convention packet, including the tasks and perspectives document, working group reports, constitutional amendments, and Steering Committee candidate statements, click here.

New York City Democratic Socialists of America has had a big year.

A little less than a year ago, in May 2016, the New York City DSA Chapter (in DSA we also call chapters “locals”) was officially reborn after being dormant for years. A new constitution for the local was drafted and provisionally approved. At the time, NYC-DSA was less than 100 people and could hold a convention in a small classroom.

Since then we've grown rapidly and have been doing tremendous work. We organized canvasses for Bernie Sanders, solidarity pickets with the Verizon strikers, and launched new working groups focused on housing, racial, climate, and immigrant justice, and electoral politics. We’ve started branches in the Bronx/Uptown, Brooklyn, CUNY, Queens, and a branch for union activists, with more to come. Our branches now regularly have meetings in the hundreds.

It's been a hectic year to say the least. We have almost 1,900 members and we’re growing rapidly. By the time you read this, we may pass the 2,000 mark. We're in a stronger position than we've ever been to build a real democratic socialist movement in New York City. We want to say thank you for everything you have done to make that possible, and to encourage you to get ready for another intense year. We have to build a movement that can present a real left-wing alternative to Donald Trump, the Right, and corporate Democrats, and that will take all of us getting involved.

This growth is tremendously exciting and inspirational, but it also presents some logistical challenges, namely: how do we have a successful annual convention for NYC-DSA with so many members? This annual convention is where we’ll discuss our tasks and perspectives for the coming year, officially adopt our constitution (which we adopted provisionally at our last convention), hear from each of our campaign working groups and discuss and debate their reports, and elect the Steering Committee for the coming year.

This page therefore is designed to explain how the convention will work and tells you a little bit about how and why we made the decisions we made. Initial decisions regarding the organization of the convention were made by the Co-chairs in consultation with the Steering Committee, and then responsibility for organizing the convention was assigned to a convention planning committee. If a question is not answered here, you can email info [a] socialists.nyc to get additional information.

When and where is the convention?

The convention is on Saturday May 6 from 9am - 4pm at Judson Memorial Church.

What will be decided at the convention?

The convention will take up five substantive issues this year.

First, the outgoing Steering Committee will present a tasks and perspectives document for the coming year that will outline what we think are the key challenges and opportunities facing our movement in the next 12 months and what our strategy as NYC-DSA should be. This document will be sent to all members in the middle of April so that it can be discussed and debated at branch meetings at the end of the month. Delegates will be able to submit amendments to the tasks and perspectives document. These amendments will be discussed and debated at the convention. We will then vote on the amendments and then the overall document. Once it passes, the tasks and perspectives document will guide our strategy for the following year.

Second, we need to officially adopt our Local’s constitution, which you can review here. The constitution was provisionally adopted at the May 2016 convention.  At that time we also agreed to allow the Steering Committee to make necessary changes by unanimous vote when problems with the provisional constitution became clear. The Steering Committee will report on the changes that have been made. Then proposed amendments from delegates will be discussed and voted on, and finally the convention will vote to officially adopt the constitution. After this convention, only a convention or special meeting of the Local will be able to amend the constitution. If you'd like to submit an amendment to our constitution, email Dave Hancock at dave.leo.hancock [a] gmail.com.

Third, we will hear reports from each of our working groups. You can see a full list of our active working groups here. The reports will summarize what working groups have done in the last year and what they plan on doing in the coming year. These reports will also be available to all branches before their April meeting. The convention will discuss each report, make amendments as necessary, and then endorse them.

Fourth, our electoral working group will present any electoral endorsements it recommends that NYC-DSA make in the 2017 elections. Their proposed endorsements will be sent out to all members before the branch meetings. 60% of delegates at the convention must endorse a candidate for them to receive the endorsement of NYC-DSA.

Fifth, and finally, we will elect new officers to our Steering Committee. Our Steering Committee is made up of four officers — two co-chairs, a treasurer, and a secretary. Any member may run for an officer position, but they must be nominated by another member. Members may run on their own, or organize a slate of candidates to run. A slate is a team of candidates who have jointly developed a plan for what they want to do on the Steering Committee together. To learn more about running for the Steering Committee, what should go in a candidate statement, and what each position does and what is required of someone in that position, please email Dave Hancock at dave.leo.hancock [a] gmail.com. Steering Committee candidates must notify Dave that they are planning on running by April 15 if they want their statement to be included in the packet that goes out to members ahead of the April Branch meetings. We have pushed back the final deadline to run for the Steering Committee to April 28 to give people more time to consider running.

To download the convention packet, including the tasks and perspectives document, working group reports, constitutional amendments, and Steering Committee candidate statements, click here.

Who can attend the convention?

Each branch of New York City Democratic Socialists of America will elect at their April meetings a total number of delegates roughly proportional to their branch’s size (the convention committee and the Steering Committee determined the sizes of each branch's delegation on the basis of one delegate for every six active branch members).  Each branch will elect delegates in a process of their own choosing. To learn more about how this will happen and how to run to be a delegate, reach out to your branch organizing committee. Delegates must be dues-paying members of National DSA and must commit to attend the full convention. Only dues-paying members will be allowed to elect delegates. To become a member of DSA before your branch meeting, visit: www.dsausa.org/join.

Branches will be allotted the following number of delegates based on their number of active members (the ratio we chose was 1 delegate for every 6 active members). Although Lower Manhattan and New York University DSA groups are not yet recognized branches, they have each been given two delegates to represent their initial organizing groups.

  • Brooklyn: 50 delegates
  • Bronx/Uptown: 20 delegates
  • Queens: 20 delegates
  • Labor: 10 delegates
  • CUNY: 4 delegates
  • Lower Manhattan: 2 delegates
  • NYU: 2 delegates

In addition to the 108 delegates elected from each of our branches, we anticipate having space for about 180 observers to attend. Each branch will have the ability to nominate up to 10 alternate delegates to step in in case an elected delegate does not show up. Space will be reserved for these alternates to be observers. For the rest of the observer spots, more information about how to register as will go out soon. Priority will be given to dues-paying members of DSA and those who agree to volunteer at the convention.

Why do we elect delegates to the convention?

NYC Democratic Socialists of America has experienced phenomenal growth in the last year. While this is incredibly exciting, it also means that to have a democratic and functional process that truly represents the views of all DSA members we need a delegated convention.  By electing delegates from the branches, all sections and viewpoints will be represented, not just those of the people who are able to attend.  

What are the important dates to remember in the leadup to the convention?

April 15: All constitutional amendments and working group reports are due. Steering Committee candidates who would like their statements included in the packets that go out to members also need to submit their statements to run by this day (email Dave Hancock at dave.leo.hancock [a] gmail.com to learn more about running). Shortly after April 15, all dues-paying members of NYC-DSA will be sent a convention packet with candidate statements, constitutional amendments, working group reports, as well as the draft tasks and perspectives document discussed above.

April 28: Last day to announce a Steering Committee candidacy. Email Dave Hancock at dave.leo.hancock [a] gmail.com for more information.

End of April/Early May: Branch meetings to discuss documents and elect delegates. Check www.socialists.nyc/events for your branch meeting.

May 4: Amendments to the tasks and perspectives documents are due. Email Gay Semel at gaysemel [a] gmail.com for more information or to submit an amendment.

May 6: The Convention.

Who is organizing the convention?

The Steering Committee is officially responsible for organizing the convention but has delegated responsibility to a convention planning committee. This committee is chaired by Gay Semel (Brooklyn Organizing Committee) and Neal Meyer (NYC-DSA Treasurer), and includes representatives from each branch: Isa Vasquez (CUNY Organizing Committee), Dave Hancock (Brooklyn Organizing Committee), Katrina Forman (Queens Organizing Committee), Megan Knighton (Bronx/Uptown Organizing Committee), and Ariel Zakarison (Labor Organizing Committee).