Just the beginning.
Denise Joy is trying to get used to this elected official thing.
At a downtown Billings coffee shop on Thursday, she said it’s a bit different to have people recognize her in public and stop to comment on the election win.
Joy joked about how she thought things would slow down after her months-long campaign, but no. Now she’s 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.”
The Democratic Socialists of America, the main organization of the burgeoning political movement, is still minor in the scheme of American politics. It boasts about 30,000 members nationwide.
Its growth, spurred by Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid, is notable. DSA has roughly tripled since Sanders gained national notoriety.