Chicago Democratic Socialists of America

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Chicago Democratic Socialists of America is an affiliate of Democratic Socialists of America.

GROW slate

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Members of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America GROW slate 2021 were Ugo Okere, Laura Colaneri, Gabriel Kokoszka, Max Gelula, Anna Joaquin, Zach Shearer, Angela Janusz, Isa Janusz, Brian Bennett, Nushrat Jahan, Casey Merwin.

21/22 Class Unity slate

Chicago DSA is in bad shape. After a year without general meetings, our inability to meet quorum at last month’s annual convention demonstrates just how much our membership has lost confidence in chapter leadership.

Class Unity is running a slate in the Chicago DSA branch elections to help set this right. We believe that the chapter must expand its horizons beyond its existing base of dedicated, mostly middle class activists, and commit to a strategy that unifies rather than divides the working class.

Chicago Mass Action

We, the undersigned candidates for Chicago delegates to the 2021 DSA National Convention, agree on the following points of unity for a mass action vision of what DSA can be and must do. We believe in a mass action vision of socialist change: that in order to win socialism, we must move in such a way that will put the majority of the working class that we are part of into action, and that we must build an organization capable of democratically deciding on, sustaining, and directing that mass action.


Co-Signers: Alec Hudson, Alex Finch, Ambria Taylor, Anthony Joel Quezada, Benjamin N Tianen, Brent O'Reilly, Deanna Satin, Dmitri Minh McDonald, Eli Barrows, Emilie Shireman, Emily Mikhail, Jack Bouman, JP Kaderbek, Keefer Dunn, Kodi Roberts, Lillian Osborne, Liz Kantor, Loreen Targos, Mark Maxwell, Max Gelula, Melinda Bunnage, Raymond Diaz, Rich Ranallo, Rory Gilchrist, Sabrina Chan, Sandy Barnard, Sarah Hurd, Sarah Zimmerman, Sean Duffy, Sky Patterson, Stephen Thompson, Sveta Stoytcheva, Tristan Bock-Hughes, Waleeta Canon.[2][3]

City Council successes

If their success on Tuesday carries over to the April 2019 runoff election, as many as five members of the Democratic Socialists of America could be on the Chicago City Council.

Two won aldermanic seats outright. Three others made the runoffs.

“The oligarchs are shaking in their boots tonight,” Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) told supporters. “Our continued organizing and movement-building over the last four years is paying dividends. And it appears to be a total transformation of political power at City Hall from the bottom up.”

Rosa is one of the two members of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America who got the majority vote needed to win without a runoff. The other, Daniel La Spata, upset Ald. Joe Moreno in the Near Northwest Side’s 1st Ward.


Socialist Rosanna Rodriguez-Sanchez will be in April’s runoff against incumbent Ald. Deb Mell (33rd). Rodríguez-Sánchez broke into tears at her election-night party at Chief O’Neils in Avondale after hearing she’d gotten the most votes in a three-way race.

“Chicago had a way of doing politics, and I feel like that died tonight,” Rodríguez-Sánchez said. “I’m very very confident that I’m going to win” in April.

Byron Sigcho Lopez, who heads the Pilsen Alliance, credited the socialist organization — which says it’s not a party but instead a “political and activist organization” — with helping him in the race for the seat vacated by retiring Ald. Danny Solis (25th). Sigcho-Lopez will face Alex Acevedo in the runoff.

“DSA members were instrumental, and I’m thankful to the volunteers who spent hundreds — thousands — of hours campaigning,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “We’ve had a rubber-stamp City Council beholden to corporate interests, and that’s why the DSA candidates resonated with people.”

Andre Vazquez, who joined the socialists in June, will be in the runoff against 35-year incumbent Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th).

Rosa, who turned 30 in February, had been DSA’s only elected official in Chicago.

“For the third-biggest city in the country to have a DSA caucus is amazing, and having members around Carlos will only amplify the causes that working-class Chicago — not the rich — wants,” local DSA co-chair Lucie Macias.

Macias said the group supports rent control and having an Chicago school board and opposes plans to build a new police academy in Garfield Park. Nationally, the group backs “Medicare for all.”

The successes of the socialist group’s council candidates set off a raucous celebration at a Chicago watch party at the Logan Square offices of the magazine In These Times, where updates on Tuesday’s vote prompted whoops and swigs from bottles of Malort that were being passed around.

“This progressive insurgency is absolutely historic,” Rodriguez-Sanchez campaign volunteer Rachel Johnson said. “We are poised to have three or four new socialists on the City Council and will be positioned to have a socialist [caucus] on the City Council. I’m absolutely elated.”

After claiming roughly 5,000 members in 2015, the group says there are now about 60,000 card-carrying DSA members nationwide and about 1,300 among three Chicago chapters.[4]

CDSA convention delegates 2021

Chicago Democratic Socialists of America Candidates for Delegate to DSA National Convention 2021

In Alphabetical Order by Last Name, Statements compiled after reference list

2017 Executive


Chicago Democratic Socialists of America has staggered two year terms for its officers, but add in two vacancies among the officer positions and you have nearly a whole new crew selected at the June 17 membership convention. The meeting was held in the historic United Electrical Workers Hall at 37 S. Ashland in Chicago. Clara Alcott was elected female co-chair. Leonard Pierce was elected male co-chair. Hope Payton-Carrillo was elected secretary. Dele Balogun and Ramsin Canon will share the political education officer position (but only one vote). Peg Strobel remains as treasurer, that term ending next June.[6]

Our City, Our Schools

Chicago may not have an elected school board yet, but Our City, Our Schools candidates injected some democracy into Chicago Public Schools’ Local School Council elections and won 15 seats across the city of Chicago 20!

Our City, Our Schools candidates included Chicago Democratic Socialists of America members and ally partners. They ran on a platform to fight CPS budget cuts, fight school closings and charter expansions, create sanctuary schools, keep classes below 20 students/fight staff cuts, and fight for a city-wide elected school board.

In a Facebook post following their win, Spencer Chan said, “On election day, I spoke to over 130 parents at LaSalle II. Of all the issues I spoke with parents about, one issue seemed to resonate with them the most: parents are tired of Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointing his buddies to the serve on the school board of CPS. Parents want an elected school board in the city of Chicago. I am excited to work with the LSC at LaSalle II and to organize and build solidarity with LSCs across the city to make an elected school board a reality.”

LSCs are elected every two years and are typical made up of 12 positions: 6 parents, 2 community members, 2 teachers, 1 staffer who isn’t a teacher, plus the principal. High schools also choose a student member who serves a one-year term. LSCs vote to approve the school’s budget, evaluate and hire principals, and oversee the school’s Continuous Improvement Work Plan, among other duties.

The two year term for LSCs will begin on July 1. You can find full LSC elections results here.

Our City, Our Schools Winners


Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, April 22, 2018.

The CDSA Bowletariats seized the means of reproduction and raised $10,243 for abortion access! That’s more than any other team has ever raised for Chicago Abortion Fund! We had a great time bowling today & are looking forward to next year’s National Network of Abortion Funds #Bowl18! 🌹🎳

Closed Facebook group

This is the official Facebook group for Chicago DSA and its branches (South Side, Northside, and Oak Park)

Chicago Democratic Socialists of America closed Facebook group group, as of April 21, 2017;[7]



By October 15, 2017, the group had added nearly 200 new members.

More names had been added by June 7, 2018;

Resistance Culture: A Chicago DSA Working Group


Resistance Culture: A Chicago Democratic Socialists of America Working Group, a Public Facebook Group, as of February 10, 2018.

This page is intended as an ad-hoc start to a proposed working group based around the exploration of arts, culture and radical social change among Chicago members of Democratic Socialists of America. [8]



More names had been added by June 7 2018.

Health Care Working Group - Chicago DSA


Chicago Democratic Socialists of America Health Care Working Group - Chicago DSA Public Group, as of September 1, 2017;[9]



By October 15, the group had doubled.

Mare names had been added by June 7, 2018;

Environmental Working Group - Chicago DSA


Environmental Working Closed Facebook Group - Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, as of September 1, 2017;[10]



By October 15, 2017, several new members were added.[11]

More names had been added by June 7, 2018;

Democratic Socialism: An Introduction


Democratic Socialism: An Introduction Public · Hosted by Chicago Democratic Socialists of America.

Saturday, January 28 at 2 PM - 4 PM CST

850 W. Jackson Blvd, 7th Floor, Chicago

What do we mean by "democratic socialism?" How does it compare to what Bernie Sanders talked about during his presidential campaign? What do democratic socialists have to say about capitalism in the world today? Why do we think it is a form of society that must be replaced? And what might that replacement look like?

There will be both presentations and interactive group activities. Light snacks will be served.

This workshop / seminar is open to DSA members and friends and is designed particularly for new DSA members who want to better understand DSA's politics and vision.[12]

Invited on Facebook



"Raise Hell with Chicago Democratic Socialists"

In 1992, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America members published a six-page leaflet, "Raise Hell with Chicago Democratic Socialists", welcoming progressives into membership. It features comments by United Steelworkers leader Ed Sadlowski; Dr. Ron Sable, the Illinois chair of the Physicians for a National Health Program; Vicki Starr, who appeared in the film Union Maids; political scientist Jane Mansbridge;and theologians Rosemary Reuther and Michael Eric Dyson.[13]

NAFTA debate

On March 12 1993 the West Suburban branch of Chicago DSA held a major forum and debate on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Speakers included Carole Travis of the UAW, Marvin Golden of Greenpeace, philosophy professor Dennis Temple, and a staff member from the office of Representative Harris Falwell, a Republican.[14]

Save Our Security Illinois Coalition

In 2005, left opposition to Social Security privatization was organized in Illinois around the Save Our Security Illinois Coalition, which included Chicago Democratic Socialists of America. The Coalition’s first action in Illinois was a 90-person picket line outside the downtown Chicago offices of the Charles Schwab brokerage, a major advocate of privatization. A town hall meeting, with an overflow crowd of 400, on February 28 at Loyola University’s Water Tower campus featured Senators Richard Durbin and Barack Obama and Representative Jan Schakowsky. There was also a major rally in April.[15]

Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner


Arthur Loevy, Secretary/treasurer of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, was honored at Chicago DSA's 32nd Annual Debs-Thomas- Harrington Dinner May 4, 1990, at the Midland Hotel.

Featured speaker was Cecil Roberts, vice president of the United Mine Workers, who talked on "Victory Over Pittston: Lessons and Strategies for Labor and the Progressive Movement in the 90s.".[16]


Chicago Democratic Socialists of America's annual Debs-Thomas-Harrington dinner was held on Saturday, May 11 at the Congress hotel. It honored labor stalwarts Steve Culen, Executive Director of Council 31, AFSCME, and Kathy Devine, Labor editor and Co-Coordinator of the Illinois Labor Network Against Apartheid.

Demma Strainville, Chair of the Ontario New Democratic Party Parliament Caucus spoke at the dinner.[17]


The 44th Annual Chicago Democratic Socialists of America Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner, was held May 10, 2002, in Chicago. MC was Reverend Dr. Calvin Morris.

Carl Shier presented the Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner Award to labor attorney Barbara Hillman

Roberta Lynch presented the Debs - Thomas - Harrington Award to Tom Balanoff of the SEIU Building Services Division.

Professor Douglass Cassel gave the 44th Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Address.[18]


Chicago Democratic Socialists of America held their 50th Annual Debs-Thomas-Harrington dinner, honoring Les Orear, founding member of and President Emeritus of the Illinois Labor History Society; Laurie Burgess, a labor lawyer with a special focus on workers’ centers; and Dr. Marge Cohen, AIDS activist and DSA comrade. [19]


Chicago DSA held its 51st annual Eugene V. Debs- Norman Thomas-Michael Harrington Dinner on May 1st, honoring historian, activist, and DSA member Timuel Black and the executive director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Jane Ramsey. The featured speaker was the Reverend C.J. Hawking.[20]


The 2010 Chicago Democratic Socialists of America Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner gathered together people representing Chicago’s legal, labor, liberal, and left communities to honor the People’s Law Office and the United Electrical Workers’ Western Regional President Carl Rosen, with author William Greider as featured speaker and Kim Bobo as master of ceremonies.[21]

Flint Taylor accepted the award to the People's Law Office from GOPDSA Co-Chair Tom Broderick. Taylor went on to recognize some of the people, present and not, who helped found the law collective and helped make it one of the major resources in defense of civil liberties in Chicago.

Carl Rosen accepted the Debs Thomas Harrington award from Chicago DSA Co-Chair Ron Baiman. ed make it one of the major resources in defense of civil liberties in Chicago.

The theme of this year's Dinner was "Bring America Home!" This was a deliberate variation on the title of William Greider's latest book, Come Home America, though it works very well as a demand the left should be making more vociferously of the Obama Administration. [22]


The 53rd Debs Thomas Harrington Dinner was held at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro on Friday the 13th of May, 2011.

William McNary of Citizen Action/Illinois was Master of Ceremonies.

Sandra Shimon, a Greater Oak Park DSA member and an Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty board member, presented the Dinner award to ICADP's Jeremy Schroeder. In accepting the award, Schroeder made reference to the politics and values represented by Eugene V. Debs. Despite the victory in abolishing the death penalty in Illinois, the work of Illinois Abolitionists is not over. Not only is there the Federal death penalty, but proponents of the death penalty in Illinois are already attempting to bring it back.

Chicago DSA co-chair Ron Baiman presented the Dinner award to AFSCME's John Cameron. In accepting the award, Cameron noted that while both public and private employees may be represented in the workplace by a union, public employees, as voters, have some say in the meaning of their work, and this is the essence of socialism.

U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky seized the time and the podium to second the Dinner's endorsement of Cameron's work. Despite now being in the minority in Congress, Schakowsky noted in passing, she was extremely optimistic as the conservatives in Congress have seriously over-reached themselves.

Featured speaker was Ralph Martire, the Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Martire, who began his career as a corporate lawyer. "Mergers and acquisitions," he sighed. But Martire wielded statistics with passion and clarity to reveal the intersection of tax policy, education, class, and racism.

The Dinner closed with the singing of "Solidarity Forever," this time led by Christine Steyer, a singer who graciously donated her talents.[23]


The 2013 55th Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner was held on May 3 at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza's Wolf Point ballroom.

Bill Barclay presented the award to the Chicago Teachers Union. And Jesse Sharkey provided a realistic assessment of the balance of power and the tasks ahead for the Chicago Teachers Union.

Peg Strobel included in her introduction of Keith Kelleher a much belated (from 2007) greeting from Barack Obama. It was revealed that Kelleher's first date with his wife was to a speech by Michael Harrington at Wayne State University.

Ron Baiman conspired with friends like Heather Booth to conduct a small William McNary roast. McNary emerged largely unsinged to warmly defend the Affordable Care Act as game changing legislation.

Amy Dean brought her own humor to the table.

A sincere gramercy to Rev. C.J. Hawking, who endured weather and traffic all the way from DC to be our Master of Ceremonies that evening. [24]