Editor’s Note: Continuing our retrospective on the American “sewer socialism” movement.

By Jason Sibert

Like urban America in general, Schenectady, a mini-metro area located in upstate New York, possesses a fascinating history. Located just 15 miles southeast of the state capital of Albany, it once attracted immigrants from eastern and southern Europe in the early part of the 20th century. Many came to fill industrial jobs in the booming factory economy. It also attracted African Americans in the Great Migration from the rural south to the industrial urban north. General Electric and American Locomotive Company played a big role in the industrial economy of the day.

The city suffered through the Great Depression when it lost jobs, like the country in general. Late in the 20th century, the city – like many cities in New York – lost industrial jobs. Schenectady experienced a revitalization in the 21st century, as it became a renewable energy hub with GE establishing a renewable energy center. The population rebounded from 2000 to 2010. Numerous small businesses, retail stores and restaurants have developed on State Street downtown.

In the early 20th century, the city played a role in the movement sometimes called “sewer socialism, “a term that meant an efficient delivery of public services and support for unions on a municipal level. There was also support for social insurance on the state level in the case of workmen’s compensation and on the national level. In addition, sewer socialists fought for the municipalization of functions such as trash collection, sewers, and electrical grids. Schenectady had a socialist mayor, George Lunn, who served in the office twice from 1912 to 1913 and again from 1916 to 1917. Lunn was originally a man of the cloth, graduating from Union Theological Seminary and then pursuing a career in the ministry. Lunn served as a Presbyterian minister in New York City and as a Dutch Reformed minister in Schenectady. He considered himself a Christian Socialist.

As mayor of Schenectady, Lunn was invited to speak in favor of the 1912 Little Falls Textile Strike in a public park but was denied that right by city officials. Refusing to be silenced, Lunn read from the Gettysburg address and was one of four people arrested for “inciting to riot.”  In terms of legislative accomplishments, he moved quickly to reform the city, raising the pay for municipal workers and introducing the novelty of accepting bids for city contracts. He reassessed property, raising the business district’s taxes by $2 million and cutting taxes on workers’ homes by $300,000. Lunn also started free trash collection, free dental care and bought tracts of lands to create the city’s still-existing parks

One interesting historical note: famed journalist Walter Lippman worked for Lunn as his secretary. This chapter of Lippman’s life is covered in Ronald Steel’s biography “Walter Lippman and the American Century.” Lippman started his political life as a Socialist Party member but broke with it due to differences over World War I and his belief that the Lunn administration didn’t go far enough; a curious fact because Lippman was very much a part of the reformist wing of the SP.

Lunn later became a Democrat, attending the Democratic National Conventions in 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, and 1936. Lunn became the Democratic Lt. Governor of New York from 1923 to 1924. In 1925, he was appointed to the New York Public Service Commission where he served until 1942. Lunn passed away in 1948. Bill Buell’s book “George Lunn: the 1912 Socialist Victory in Schenectady” provides a good overview of the socialist mayor’s career. To all interested public servants, Lunn’s mayoral career provides a good template for a modern version of sewer socialism!

Jason Sibert is the Executive Director of the Peace Economy Project in St. Louis.

AGAINST Military Aid To Ukraine: In Defense Of SDUSA’S Ukraine Resolution

“Post-Maidan Ukraine is the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces” – Lev Golinkin, Nation correspondent

By Sheldon Ranz and Susan Stevens

In their April 25 article FOR Military Aid to Ukraine: A Dissent From SDUSA’s Ukraine Resolution, our comrades Patty Friend, Jason Sibert and Rick D’Loss address the concerns that some of us have about arming the neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine with the following: “We have no clear count as to how many neo-Nazis are fighting in Ukraine, and no one has determined that anything they may have done (wear Nazi uniforms and SS insignias) are equal to the atrocious acts of the Russians.” Obviously, between one of the world’s global military superpowers and the comparatively puny but numerous fascist paramilitary groups operating inside Ukraine, it’s not much of a contest!

However, we wouldn’t be the first to point out that if it looks like a Nazi and quacks like a Nazi, atrocious acts will follow. In their Salon article Are there really neo-Nazis fighting for Ukraine? Well, yes — but it’s a long story,  Medea Benjamin and Nicholas J. S. Davies wrote: “Violent foreign extremists with links to (the Azov Battalion) have included Brenton Tarrant, who massacred 51 worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019, and several members of the U.S. Rise Above Movement who were prosecuted for attacking counter-protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in August 2017. Other Azov veterans have returned to Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, the U.K. and other countries.”

Facebook is giving Azov a get-out-of jail-free card after having banned it in 2016: “For the time being, we are making a narrow exception for praise of the Azov regiment strictly in the context of defending Ukraine, or in their role as part of the Ukraine national guard,” a spokesperson from Facebook’s parent company, Meta, told Business Insider. “But we are continuing to ban all hate speech, hate symbolism, praise of violence, generic praise, support, or representation of the Azov regiment, and any other content that violates our community standards,” it added. The reversal of policy will be an immense headache for Facebook moderators, the Intercept, a US-based website, said. “While Facebook users may now praise any future battlefield action by Azov soldiers against Russia, the new policy notes that ‘any praise of violence’ committed by the group is still forbidden; it’s unclear what sort of nonviolent warfare the company anticipates,” the Intercept wrote.

Do we have no choice but to wriggle in a contorted limbo between the rock of Putin’s totalitarian imperialism, and the hard place of white supremacists’ totalitarian genocide? Is feeding one monster truly the only way to subdue the other, such that we can only hope against hope to maintain the upper hand and neuter Azov once they’ve outlived their usefulness? And seriously, when have such forces ever allowed themselves to be cast aside once others have deemed them no longer useful? To fully grasp the grip the far right paramilitary has on today’s Ukraine, we need to do a deep dive into its current President, Volodymyr Zelensky, and ascertain his responsibility for all that as his country’s chief lobbyist for military aid.

Volodymyr Zelensky started out as a TV actor, starring in a comedy called “Servant of the People”, which became an international sensation on Netflix. When he threw his hat into the ring for the presidency, his appeal was that he was different than the usual politician: young, fresh-faced, honest and funny. He promised liberal reforms and an end to corruption.  He won the 2019 election going away, with 73% of the vote. Ukraine was proud of the fact that it had just elected its first Jewish president.  But outside of Ukraine, few knew what he told the Ukrainian news agency RBC-Ukraine when he was still a candidate: “There are indisputable heroes. Stepan Bandera is a hero for a certain part of Ukrainians, and this is a normal and cool thing. He was one of those who defended the freedom of Ukraine.” In fact, during the Holocaust, Stepan Bandera led the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, whose soldiers murdered tens of thousands of Jews and Poles, including women and children, while fighting alongside the Nazis against the Soviet Red Army. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army rounded up more than 33,000 Jews to be executed by the Nazis in a span of just two days over an open pit at Babi Yar.

Expressions of admiration for Bandera had increased since Ukraine’s Maidan Uprising of 2014, which toppled the regime of Viktor Yanukovych and triggered its first armed conflict with Russia, which led to the rise of the Azov Battalion and the other far-right paramilitary units (Svoboda, Right Sector, C14 are among the most well-known)  now dominating Ukraine’s National Guard. Zelensky allows memorials and street renamings honoring Bandera and his ilk – the butchers of his own people –   to occur unimpeded. Every year, a torchlight parade paying tribute to Bandera takes place on the streets of Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, with no interference from its Jewish president. Calling out Zelensky by name, Eduard Dolinsky, Director General of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, declared on April 10: “Our government encourages nationalistic groups. Our government encourages glorification of Nazi collaborators, mass murderers and murderers of Jews. Literally, there are hundreds of monuments, streets named after killers of Jews.” (

Accompanying this ongoing ‘cultural Nazification’ of Ukraine has been a decline in civil liberties and due process. In February, 2021, the National Security and Defense Council, at Zelensky’s initiative, banned three TV channels — NewsOne, Channel 112, and ZIK, owned by Ukrainian lawmaker Taras Kozak — for being pro-Kremlin. Then, Kozak himself was also charged with treason for Kremlin ties. Later that May, Viktor Medvedchuk, the leader of the opposition For Life party was accused of treason. No evidence was made public, although the press made much of the fact that Putin is godfather to Medvedchuk’s daughter (Medvedchuk fled the country). Ukraine’s National Bureau of Investigation afterward accused former president, Petro Poroshenko, of corruption, treason, supporting “terrorist organizations” and being pro-Kremlin; the accusations are thus far unsupported.

Russia’s recent invasion accelerated the erosion of freedoms already underway,  Zelensky invoked emergency powers under martial law to ban 11 opposition parties – all to his left – who he claimed, without proof, were pro-invasion. The largest one is the aforementioned For Life party, which has 44 seats in the Parliament; For Life’s current leader Yuriy Boyko, had demanded that Russia “stop the aggression against Ukraine,” but the party has been accused of being pro-Kremlin anyway. Another banned party is the Socialist Party of Ukraine, a kindred group to Social Democrats USA. In addition, all of the country’s remaining TV stations have been shut down except for the government’ order to prevent “Russian misinformation.”: And the situation promises to worsen: Zelensky stated that once the invasion is over and Russia leaves, there will be, just like in Israel,  “representatives of the Armed Forces or the National Guard in cinemas, supermarkets, and people with weapons.”(Ha’Aretz, April 5)

So why has Ukraine’s government, headed by a Jewish president no less, been making common cause with a wide array of tattooed neo-Nazi and other assorted fascist paramilitary punks? If one were to follow journalists’ Woodward and Bernstein’s sage advice and follow the money, the trail would lead straight to…Ihor Kolomoisky.  Ihor (pronounced Igor) Kolomoisky is a billionaire who made his money on the energy market and is a dual Ukrainian-Israeli citizen (Billionaire Ukrainian Oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky Under Investigation by FBI).His TV network produced Zelensky’s “Servant of the People” and he bankrolled both Zelensky”s run for the presidency…and the Azov Battalion. He uses other fascist militias such as the Aidar Battalion and the Dnipro Squad as his own private bodyguards.(Reuters, March 20, 2015). Kolomoisky was ideally positioned to broker the infamous 2018 arms deal that featured Israeli Tavor rifles being sold to the Azov Battalion, a deal uncovered in Ha’Aretz by Israel human rights attorrney Eitay Mack. 

While the far right did poorly in Ukraine’s last general elections, Zelensky promotes them regardless because Kolomoisky is literally invested in them. When the offices of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee were vandalized in 2019 by a branch of the Azov Battalion, the Zelensky government did nothing about it, but was quick to invite an Azov representative to a round-table discussion on veterans issues. In October 2021, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Honcharuk attended a veterans benefit concert organized by the far right C14 movement and featuring an anti-Semitic metal band. In December 2021, Zelensky awarded Right Sector commander Dmytro Kotsyubaylo the “Hero of Ukraine” commendation.  And just a few months ago, he awarded the same commendation to Azov commander Denis Prokopenko.

In sum, Volodymyr Zelensky and Ihor Kolomoisky are sociopaths with low ethnic self-esteem bent on transforming Ukraine into an increasingly right-wing authoritarian regime where hate crimes would be the order of the day. That is exactly why Putin’s invasion serves their interests – getting Ukraine on a war footing accelerates this transformation. Forget about billions of dollars in military aid – just sending a book of matches to a country with this kind of leadership should raise eyebrows. And since the invasion began, it has never been clear into whose hands US military aid has fallen – the official armed forces (army, navy, air force) or the National Guard, which consists of the most retrograde elements of Ukraine, including the far-right paramilitary groups? (What happens to weapons sent to Ukraine? The U.S. doesn’t really know) Given US history in conflicts of choice, we can only assume the worst.

For all the reasons stated above, then, US military aid to Ukraine is wrong. What is perverse is that there used to be some members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus – and Bernie Sanders – who understood that and articulated that. Now, just a few weeks ago, they suddenly turned around and joined with all the other Democrats to unanimously support a $40 billion military aid package to Ukraine without explaining why. Do they really think this posture of party unity will help them stave off defeat in the upcoming midterm elections? No matter. The real labor movement is not playing these games in Congress, but organizing in the shops and on the picket lines, both here and abroad, and they have some fine ideas on the matter of Ukraine.

In Italy, airport workers in Pisa stopped arms shipments going to Ukraine that were falsely labeled as humanitarian aid(  There have been other reports of workers in Belarus going on strike to halt Russian logistics ( In Greece, railroad workers blocked a shipment of American tanks to Ukraine for more than two weeks. It was also in Greece that President Zelensky appealed to the Greek Parliament for military aid. It started out well but then he brought along some surprise guests to speak – soldiers from the Azov Battalion. That’s when he lost his audience ( Yanis Varoufakis of the left opposition party Syriza tweeted: “President Zelenski just abused the Greek Parliament’s invitation by sharing its platform with members of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion, thus undermining the Ukrainian people’s heroic resistance to Putin’s criminal invasion. We stand with Ukraine, not with the (sic) Azov neo-Nazi Battalion”

Contrary to what most people realize, we in the US are not safe from the Ukrainian paramilitaries. As our government’s military support for Zelensky has grown, American supporters for Azov have come crawling out of the woodwork. In April, they staged rallies in lower Manhattan in the new Congressional District 10 as well as opposite the nearby Russian Consulate:

One would hope that the 17 Democratic hopefuls vying for that open Congressional seat (including Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou, who just yesterday received the endorsement of the Working Families Party) are paying close attention.

David Van Deusen, President of the Vermont AFL-CIO, offers a compelling alternative to current US policy toward Ukraine in his March 24 CounterPunch piece Concerning the War in Ukraine: No Love For Putin; No Guns For Nazis. Van Deusen points out that Putin is wrong to call Ukraine a Nazi country when only a small minority of the people voted for fascists; yet the US and NATO are also wrong to act like Ukraine is free from a concerning Nazi problem when the government has been arming fascist paramilitary groups for quite some time. He maps out a policy towards protecting Ukraine and the world from Putin’s imperialism while simultaneously protecting Ukraine and the world from Nazi domination: “The U.S. and NATO must demand that the Ukrainian government immediately sever all formal ties with and forcibly dismantle Azov.  They must also pledge to withhold weapons from any and all Nazi or fascist groups active within their borders.  The Ukrainian government must further agree to take steps that would allow for the verification that such conditions are being met.  While this effort would inevitably be resisted by the Zelenskyy administration (as they will claim they need those far right forces on the front lines), their reliance on Western arms does not allow them the latitude to resist such demands with vigor should such conditions be imposed.”

Van Deusen continues, “The West must also provide massive humanitarian aid and free passage for non-fascist refugees seeking to escape the conflict, and for the cancellation of all IMF and World Bank debts (and austerity requirements associated with them) in order to not exasperate the conditions under which fascism can thrive.  The U.S. and NATO can also assist in defusing global tensions by publicly stating a commitment to not expand NATO any further into former Soviet territories (historically NATO has its own imperialist interests that have destabilized international relations).  Further, as circumstances arise, Organized Labor should look to provide material and political support for those leftist armed formations taking shape as part of the resistance (and moral support to those Russians who continue to protest the war).  Doing so shall help restore a favorable balance of power internally in the post war period. And recognizing that Russia is a nuclear power, under no circumstances should the U.S. and NATO seek to impose a no-fly zone.  Such an act would amount to the start of an air war with Russia thereby risking World War III.” A salient point, Brother Van Deusen, which is why opposition to a no-fly zone was a key part of SDUSA’s Ukraine resolution in the first place!

More to the point, subsequent events have confirmed the wisdom of not taking a stance in favor of military aid to Ukraine, even if one were unaware of the totality of its vile history, especially toward minorities. David Van Deusen offers a serious idea that should be looked at by any of the up-and-coming newly-elected Congressional progressives and, first and foremost, be promoted as a social democratic idea!

Sheldon Ranz is Director of Special Projects for Social Democrats USA and the editor of Socialist Currents.

Susan Stevens is the Chair of the Kansas City, Kansas chapter of Social Democrats USA.


Editor’s Note: Continuing our retrospective on the American “sewer socialism” movement.

By Jason Sibert

My recent pieces on sewer socialism (The Revival of Sewer Socialism and From the Sewers, Equality)  have chronicled efforts to make life better for residents in various municipalities during the industrial age, and also touched on how a modern sewer socialism might be constructed in a time that’s very different, a time when service workers (retail, restaurant, healthcare, and hotel and motel workers) are a bigger share of the workforce. It’s hard to argue that technology hasn’t made our lives better over the years; vaccines, information technology, automobile technology, and many other forms of technology have released humankind from a lot of drudgery. While technology is wonderful, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to be regulated for the public good –  a social democratic concept. It also means that we should work to develop the technology that will help us fight the greenhouse effect.

Social democrats shouldn’t shy away from the development of technology and modern sewer socialists should work for its advancement.  Harold Wilson, the leader of the United Kingdom’s Labour Party from 1963 to 1976, and prime minster in two different stints, from 1964 and 1970 and again in 1970 to 1976, gave a speech at the 1963 Labour Party conference called the “White Heat Speech.” He talked about “a scientific and technological revolution” and the need for the UK to plan for the “white heat of technological change” :

“In all our plans for the future, we are re-defining and we are re-stating our socialism in terms of the scientific revolution. But that revolution cannot become a reality unless we are prepared to make far-reaching changes in economic and social attitudes which permeate our whole system of society.  The Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution will be no place for restrictive practices or for outdated methods on either side of industry. We must harness socialism to science and science to socialism.”

The need for a highly skilled workforce dominated Wilson’s programme of action: produce more scientists, retain more scientists and make better use of scientists. In 1963, he highlighted that Russia was “training 10 to 11 times as many scientists and technologists”. Wilson realized that many of the UK’s global competitor countries were recognizing the importance of research, innovation, and skills to their citizens and economies – and were investing accordingly.  Wilson’s speech captured the excitement and inherent possibility of science, “we are living at a time of such rapid scientific change that our children are accepting as part of their everyday life things which would have been dismissed as science fiction a few years ago.”

Science and social democracy are tied together at the hip. Research and development  (R & D) represent a capital intensive undertaking and private companies don’t always want to invest a lot in it because there’s no telling how much they will benefit from it compared to the dollars spent. So, at least some of the R & D money, if not a significant amount, should be fronted by government entities, making it a social democratic activity. New technological developments can be commercialized by private companies, and the public will benefit from those breakthroughs.

As a former Clintonite, I’ve questioned much of what I believed prior to reading sociologist Lane Kenworthy’s book “Social Democratic America.” However, I will admit that the Bill Clinton Administration did well in R & D, as it redirected military R & D dollars to civilian R & D to make our economy more competitive. It increased civilian R & D 42 percent. President Clinton also worked with Congress to extend the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit.

How does the sewer socialist (most likely and alderman or mayor) deal with the federal goverment’s involvement in R & D? The Brookings Institute’s report “Localizing the Economic Impact of Research and Development” provides the key. The report states: “regional consortia that utilize the lab system should work together to create and co-fund a number of off-campus, small-scale ‘microlabs’—co-located within or near universities or private-sector clusters—that would cultivate strategic alliances with regional innovation clusters. Microlabs would help overcome the problems that most labs are located outside of technology clusters and that most lab research occurs behind the walls of main campuses. These microlabs could take the form of additional joint research institutes or new facilities that allow access to lab expertise for untapped regional economic clusters.” 

The report also states that several federal labs are already creating microlabs in cities: “Argonne National Laboratory has created office space in the Chicago Innovation Exchange, located on the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus. Another example is Cyclotron Road, a program of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory funded by the Department of Energy’s Division of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, which provides assistance to entrepreneurial researchers in advance technologies until they can succeed beyond the research lab. Cyclotron Road plays a pivotal role in providing entrepreneurs with technology development support (often leveraging technologies coming directly out of the Lawrence Berkeley laboratory) and helps them with identifying the most suitable business models, partners, and financing mechanisms for long-term impact.” 

New technologies will help make the lives of the mentioned service worker class better, and therefore social democrats should embrace research and development on the federal and local level. Science and social democracy should be used to pave the way to a more social democratic America! 

Jason Sibert is the Executive Director of the Peace Economy Project in St. Louis.


By Sheldon Ranz


Emily Gallagher wasn’t supposed to win her contest back in 2020. Up against a long-term centrist Democratic incumbent, Joseph Lentol, she was depicted in the press as a flake for mooning her noisy neighbors back in college But that’s what was appealing about her: her tendency to make good trouble. Despite her membership in DSA, it was not endorsing her for bizarre, sectarian reasons

But we in SDUSA liked her enough to endorse her to represent Assembly District 50 -Greenpoint, Brooklyn (Nine for New York). But we did more than that: we committed money, resources, and volunteers to her campaign. Gallagher needed them because it was a close race that went down to the wire. It was a matter of accurately counting mail-in ballots and examining the expiration dates stamped on those mail-in ballots that turned the tide in her favor. Ironically, it is in those close races that smaller organizations like SDUSA can play outsized roles!

Since her election, Assemblymember (AM) Gallagher has been exemplary. She has kept her promise to her constituency to pursue their best interests. A recent example is the following: A few months before she took office, a group of tenants contacted her. Their building was falling apart, and they tried to get in touch with their landlord to enact repairs, but they couldn’t find him. Instead, all they found was an anonymous shell company, a LLC (limited liability company) with a PO box. To hold landlords accountable, AM Gallagher introduced The LLC Transparency Act .

For more information on the Gallagher 2022 re-election campaign:      




Ron Kim, the Assemblymember from the 40th District (Flushing, Queens), became well-known statewide – and deservedly so – as one of the key figures in ending the reign of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Kim exposed the corruption in New York State’s nursing homes, where neglect was rampant and Covid-19 needlessly took the lives of countless residents. Cuomo’s sputtering, out-of-control public responses to Kim’s probe revealed an abusive Nixonian persona that needed to be removed from office, and he eventually was.

Kim is also a social democratic innovator who is sponsoring an Inclusive Value Ledger bill in the NYS Assembly .Designed to include more people into the economy who don’t have bank accounts, it would create the country’s first publicly owned electronic banking platform, as well as a digital currency that can be exchanged for goods and services within the state.  A statewide complementary currency would encourage the recirculation of money in low-income communities.

We are as pleased to support Ron Kim now as we were two years ago (Nine for New York).

For more information on the Kim 2022 re-election campaign:


For those of you who have been paying attention to the inner workings of New York State (NYS) politics, after you get a respirator and are sufficiently coherent  when trying to make sense of it all, you might have noticed, that NYS’ outgoing corrupt Governor, Andrew Cuomo, had appointed a number a non-Democratic judges to the New York State Court of Appeals . These judges’ overturned the NYS Democratic Party’s attempt to maintain its Congressional seats, as well as changing the boundaries of state assembly and senate districts well after many local election campaigns were already underway.

The ensuing chaos had a deleterious effect on various progressive candidates, including several endorsed by SDUSA. Rana Abdelhamid was running a strong race for Congress against incumbent Carolyn Maloney, uniting the progressive bloc. We liked the human rights-oriented foreign policy approach that she would have brought to Congress if elected. But redistricting removed Brooklyn and Queens – Abdelhamid’s home base – from the redrawn district, forcing her to suspend her campaign. 


Another casualty of redistricting was public defender Alana Sivin, who was in a four-way race in State Senate District 26 (and then in State Assembly District 65, post-redistricting, until she had to withdraw.). Sivin’s race was challenging, not only because she was facing an entrenched incumbent, but also  because all of her fellow challengers were,  like her, members of DSA. SDUSA has a general policy of not making endorsements in electoral contests in which where there are multiple progressives, since it is a waste of valuable energy for the Left to be engaged with each other in this manner. However, we made an exception because Sivin approached us for an endorsement. After checking her background and that of the other candidates, we endorsed her due to her greater legislative experience working for members of the New York City Council. She is also sympathetic to our Democratic Zionist support for BDS.


Without this freakish incident of redistricting, who knows how far Abdelhamid and Sivin would have gotten? But both already achieved a lot, beyond name recognition. Abdelhamid, one of whose whose goals is to establish a lasting political power base for Arab-Americans in New York City, did at least expand that sphere of influence beyond the Palestinian-American enclave of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Sivin established herself in the debates as the candidate most likely to hit the ground running, knowing how the system works and using that to make it work best for those most in need. We look forward to working with both of them in the future on ventures of common concern!

Sheldon Ranz is Director of Special Projects for Social Democrats USA and the editor of Socialist Currents.


By Sheldon Ranz

Born in a small rural town in Puerto Rico, Samy Nemir-Olivares grew up in a family that had to struggle to make ends meet. Eventually, he moved to New York with just a suitcase, lots of student debt and a vision to make the world a much better place.

In his time as a community organizer, he has worked both as a journalist covering the stories of marginalized communities and later at the Center for Popular Democracy. He currently works for a civil rights nonprofit group that focuses on the LGBTQ community and people with HIV. While he was working to support the Excluded Workers Fund during the Covid-19 crisis, the incumbent assemblymember Erik Dilan was nowhere to be found. Fed up with Dilan’s lack of leadership, Nemir-Olivares threw his hat into the ring. If elected, Nemir-Olivares, a protégé of SDUSA ally State Senator Julia Salazar, would be the first gay Latinx New Yorker in the NYS Assembly. He is running in the 54th Assembly District, which overlaps with the 18th State Senate district represented by Salazar, including North Brooklyn nabes Cypress Hills and East Bushwick.

What makes Samy Run? He’s fighting for safe housing, tuition-free higher education, and free healthcare as basic human rights so his constituents will be free from the fear of unwarranted eviction, able to pursue pathways to good paying jobs, and able to seek good, quality healthcare whenever they need it. With this foundation in place, they can live in a safer and better New York City.

While incumbent Dilan has the support of the party’s big funders and real estate developers, Nemir-Olivares has pledged to not take any money from corporate PACs or special interest groups. More importantly, while increasing numbers of tenants in North Brooklyn are being hit with hurtful post-pandemic rent hikes, the need to pass the Good Cause Eviction legislation sponsored by Senator Salazar is more apparent than ever. Dilan opposes Good Cause; Nemir-Olivares supports it.

Together, serving in office, Julia Salazar and Samy Nemir-Olivares would give North Brooklyn a more coherent socialist voice than either of them would separately!

For more information:

Sheldon Ranz is Director of Special Projects for Social Democrats USA and the editor of Socialist Currents.