Billings Democratic Socialists of America

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Billings Democratic Socialists of America is a Montana branch of Democratic Socialists of America.

Leaders

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Billings DSA, May 1 ·

With Ben Hahn, Rich Smith, Alexander Andrews and Sonia Davis.

Jade Bahr and Dylan Hahn were also leaders.

City Councillor

In November 17 Denise Joy was preparing to take a seat on the Billings City Council representing Ward 3.

After finding herself 11 points behind her challenger in the city primary, Joy went on to win by 17 points. And she did it as a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Joy is Montana's only DSA member elected to public office. It wasn't a major tenet of her candidacy — the Billings City Council elections are nonpartisan. But it was no secret, either, and her volunteers came from the small contingent of Billings DSA members.

Joy said that making it as a Democratic Socialist in Billings, in a ward that showed strong support for Donald Trump, depended on her contact with people during the campaign.

“The label of 'socialist' may make people nervous," Joy said. "But what it means is paying it forward and investing in our community. And that doesn’t scare them.”

People might relate Democratic Socialism to national-level issues like universal healthcare, but more often the Billings-level DSA operates in support of more common progressive politics in the area.

The group will also be supporting two Democrat statehouse candidates next year. One of them, Amelia Danielle Marquez, is a vice chair for the Yellowstone County Democrats and will run in House District 52.

That overlap is going to be common with just about 20 local members, said Josh Schleining, organizer and chairman of the Billings DSA. The group is working to get recognition by the national branch as a local chapter.

The Billings DSA's efforts often overlap with local Democrats.

“We’re trying to function on our own on one hand, but also if there’s any organization, political parties, anyone we agree with on their stance, we try to help them,” he said.

And with that, the Democratic Socialist movement in Billings isn't looking to buck the establishment. Its members want to make the establishment work for them.

Schleining said that they're passionate about big topics like wealth inequality and drug policy reform. But politics in Billings can feel more accessible for a small political group, and those issues often don't require sea changes in policy.

"Things like minimum-wage increases can happen on a city level," he said. "Community-led policing. There’s lots of ideas that can be implemented at a local level and we’ve seen it.”

By day, Joy is a special-needs assistant at Ben Steele Middle School. She grew up in Hardin. She works with the Amend Park Community Garden, which she says is a socialist idea.

She doesn't think that's too radical.

“It’s all about affordability. It’s all about living wages, and that’s what people care about. And that’s a part of socialism. That’s a part of the idea that collectively, we need to address these problems,” she said.[1]

Billings DSA Organizers

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Billings Democratic Socialists of America Organizers, Closed Facebook Group, October 31, 2017.

This is a group created to help with online organizing and keep people up to speed on actions and events planned by Billings DSA[2]

Admins

Members

Billings meeting

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Billings DSA Meeting Public · Hosted by Billings DSA and Montana DSA

Sunday, May 7 at 6 PM - 8 PM MDT

Last Chance Pub & Cider Mill, 2203 Montana Ave., Billings, Montana 59101

Council candidate

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In 2017, Billings Democratic Socialists of America member Ta'jin Perez, was a Billings City Council candidate.

References