Madeline Hanhardt Candidate Questionnaire


Nominated For: Co-Chair

What is your organizing experience? What is your plan for growing power in 2019 should you be elected to your position?

I’m the daughter of a career union organizer and a former campaign manager, so you could say that organizing is in my blood. I also grew up in one of the most conservative states in the country and as a young, queer, disabled person – this not only made it so organizing for a better future was less of a choice and more of a necessity (as the political is personal and the personal is political,) but it also made my radicalization less of a possibility and more of an inevitability. With this in mind, I quickly became fascinated with the world of activism and politics at a young age – with time and experience, that fascination has grown into a passion. I’ve racked up my fair share of electoral organizing and volunteer experiences in high school, college and beyond, everything from local campaigns from my time in Idaho to being a delegate for Bernie Sanders’s 2016 Presidential Race. Outside of electoral work, I’ve organized or helped to organize several rallies, protests, and direct actions, ranging from student walkouts protesting unjust changes to Idaho’s public education system to an Anti-Fascist counter demonstration this summer in downtown Seattle. Organizing the counter demonstration also gave me the opportunity to coalition build with many of Seattle’s other socialist, communist, or otherwise left-leaning organizations, which is something I am really proud of.

These experiences, solidarity work, coalition building, and all of the great work of the Seattle DSA’s membership are the source of my ideas for building and taking back power in our city and beyond. It is through these experiences and organizing work that our power and solidarity, within and outside of our organization, is built and sustained. To be a big tent organization, we must intentionally prioritize reaching out to those who are underserved by our organization currently, we must encourage all work within the chapter, regardless of personal tendency or affiliation. We must also strive to eradicate the reproduced systems of capitalist oppression that at times are recreated or carried over into our own organizing work.

For specifics, please see the below question, or feel free to reach out to me in slack if you have any remaining questions.

Why are you running? What do you want to accomplish, create, or change should you be elected?

I’m running because I want to continue to build on the work I was able to do as an Internal Organizer over the past 5 months, and because that position gave me a unique perspective into what the SDSA is currently doing well, and what we really need to work on in order to move forward in a unified way that sustains and builds power in Seattle. Through my experiences as an Internal Organizer, we’ve been able to implement some good changes over the last year, but we must not be complacent – we must continue to build on those improvements to create an organization that truly is a safe, welcoming, and comradely space for all, and we must streamline processes to allow us to work more effectively and succinctly. I have a lot of ideas that I’d like to see implemented when I’m elected co-chair and should those ideas be seen as amenable by the other members of the local council.

A few of these ideas are:

  • Relentlessly encouraging and practicing best datasec and infosec practices as individuals and as an organization
  • Practicing bottom up organizing (every member of the organization is a leader, an organizer, and has something to contribute,)
  • Streamlining systems of information, communication, and operational procedures
  • Encouraging collaboration between different organizing groups within the chapter
  • Maintaining and expanding our current organizing campaigns, from Medicare 4 All and our Workplace Organizing Collectives, to Electoral Work and Tenant Organizing, there are an abundance of organizing opportunities available to our members

Additionally, as economic inequity continues to worsen in the city we call home, it is vital that we introduce mutual aid programs year round to serve our community (medical debt jubilees, food pantries, and brake light clinics are just a couple of examples of said programs,), as well as work with coalition partners to demand better housing policies (like lifting the ban on rent control!) and to advocate for the city’s most vulnerable (like partnering with No New Youth Jail and Stop the Sweeps). As a socialist organization, especially given the city we’re organizing and living in, our goal is to fight back against the principles of capitalism – exclusivity, elitism, and putting profit over people – by prioritizing and practicing values of solidarity and inclusionary organizing. A New York DSA comrade had this to say about building and sustaining mutual aid networks: “Mutual aid networks are networks of solidarity. By organizing them, we’re practicing solidarity and raising consciousness, both our own and, hopefully, the consciousness of those to whom we’re relating. When we provide strike support to workers and comrades on picket lines, another form of mutual aid, we’re doing the same. From each according to our ability, to each according to their need”, which explains exactly why the Seattle DSA ought to consider mutual aid as a tool for helping people and building our organization.

Lastly, I’d like to continue building regional power in the city; we’ve started that this last year by encouraging more district based organizing, which is something I’d like to see expanded in 2019. To accomplish this, I’d like to see the establishment of a North Seattle Branch of the SDSA, as well as continuing and expanding the social and educational programming we currently have.

At the January Business meeting there was a candidate forum where I was asked “What is your vision for the chapter?” and you can find my answer to that question here.

Additional Statements

Ultimately, it takes collaboration and a multifaceted approach to sustain and build our chapter, as well as power in our city. I’m looking forward to working with our membership over the next year, and look forward to the possibility of serving our chapter as co-chair.