Political Notebook: Fielder aims to return out female leadership to SF supes

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday May 24, 2023
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Jackie Fielder has announced her candidacy for the District 9 supervisor seat in San Francisco. Photo: Courtesy the candidate
Jackie Fielder has announced her candidacy for the District 9 supervisor seat in San Francisco. Photo: Courtesy the candidate

It has been 27 years since an out female won election to a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Lesbian supervisor Leslie Katz was elected in 1996 when candidates ran citywide and opted not to run in 2000 when the supervisors reverted back to being elected by district.

And it has been a decade since an out female served on the board, as appointed bisexual District 5 supervisor Christina Olague stepped down on January 8, 2013. She lost her bid for a full four-year term in the November 2012 election to London Breed, now the city's mayor.

With District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen termed out of her seat representing the Mission district come January 2025, Jackie Fielder is running to succeed her on the November 2024 ballot. Should the queer progressive be elected, she would return out female leadership to the board chambers in City Hall.

There are currently three gay, white men serving on the board, which marks the first time such a trio has served together in San Francisco. The dearth of LGBTQ women on the board over the last 23 years "is pretty shocking, especially for San Francisco," Fielder told the Bay Area Reporter during a recent interview about her candidacy.

She would be the third out supervisor to serve in the District 9 seat since 2001. Gay supervisors Tom Ammiano and David Campos both served two four-year terms as the district's representative, with Ammiano elected to it in 2000 and Campos first elected in 2008.

"I am pretty proud to be a queer woman," said Fielder, 28, who since 2021 has worked as a co-director of the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition focused on addressing climate change. "It is why I have dedicated my life to public service in this city. I am proud to represent and would be proud to represent on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors."

Fielder's family roots trace back to the Lakota and Hidatsa tribes of South and North Dakota, and Monterrey, Mexico. Thus, she would be the first Latina elected to the District 9 seat and only the second Latino/a community leader to serve in it over the last 23 years, after Campos.

She also would be the first American Indian elected supervisor in the city's history, according to the American Indian Cultural Center San Francisco. The San Francisco History Center also told the B.A.R. it could find no record of an American Indian being elected to the board.

The first person with American Indian ancestry known to have served on it was former District 5 supervisor Vallie Brown, who is of Paiute and Shoshone descent. Appointed by Breed in July 2018 as her successor after winning a special mayoral election, Brown lost her bid the following November to serve out the remainder of Breed's term.

According to the cultural center, Brown has been the only board member it is aware of that was of American Indian descent. Following last year's redistricting process, the District 9 seat now includes more of the city's American Indian Cultural District within it. The rest of the cultural district west of Guerrero Street is part of the District 8 supervisor seat.

"I am glad to be and proud to be a Latina candidate in this race, as there has not yet been a Latina to represent this district," said Fielder. "And I am also Native American and proud to represent both of these communities and potentially serve them on the Board of Supervisors."

Early endorsements

Ronen has dual endorsed Fielder and her legislative aide Santiago Lerma, who is also planning to seek the seat, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported last month. Roberto Hernandez, known as the mayor of the Mission, is also planning to run.

Two gay men have already pulled papers to seek the District 9 seat. Trevor Chandler, who serves on the advisory board for statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization Equality California, launched his bid in mid-April, as the Political Notebook reported at the time.

Longtime AIDS and LGBTQ rights activist Michael Petrelis also pulled papers in early April. While known more for focusing on issues in the Castro and a past candidate for the District 8 supervisor seat, Petrelis' Clinton Park home is now part of District 9.

Ammiano and Campos are both supporting Fielder in the race, though she told the B.A.R. she couldn't say if they had solely endorsed her. While Campos has yet to respond to a request for comment, Ammiano told the B.A.R. that for now, he has only endorsed Fielder's candidacy for the board seat.

"Most generally, progressive women have been pretty marginalized in our elections. I think we need to pay attention to that and focus on that," said Ammiano, adding of Fielder, "specifically, she is a tremendously hard worker. She did great work on the public bank. I have seen her in action and think her background has informed her on the real life issues here in San Francisco."

Noting that "these things are fluid," Ammiano said he could dual endorse in the race should Fielder team with other candidates as part of a ranked-choice slate. Due to the city's instant voter runoff system, voters can pick their top three choices for supervisor. If no candidate wins the race outright with 50% of the vote, then the candidates with the least votes are eliminated in order, and their voter's next choice is then tabulated, until a candidate emerges with a majority of the vote and is declared the winner.

Politically aligned candidates can choose to team up, urging their voters to rank them first on their ballot and the other candidate second. Fielder told the B.A.R. she hasn't considered such a strategy at the moment.

Originally from Long Beach, California Fielder attended Stanford on a partial scholarship and graduated in 2016 with degrees in public policy and sociology. She then joined the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, whose route runs through her ancestral tribal lands.

She returned to the Bay Area in 2017 and lived in Alameda while volunteering at a youth detention center in San Mateo County and a continuation school in Oakland. In 2018, having moved to San Francisco, she joined the efforts to launch a public bank in the city and helped lead the successful No on H ballot measure campaign to defeat the police union's attempt to set policy for the use of tasers.

While she ran unsuccessfully in 2020 against gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) for his legislative seat, Fielder notes she "won a clear majority" of votes from residents of the ninth supervisorial district. As a co-founder of the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition, Fielder continues to advocate for its establishment.

"We do need a public bank to support small businesses of all kinds all around the San Francisco Bay Area and to provide low to no interest loans," argued Fielder.

Since 2021, she has served on the San Francisco Local Agency Formation Commission, which among its oversight is the city's clean power program, and is its current vice chair. That year she also launched her Daybreak Political Action Committee focused on electing progressive candidates for public office and fundraising for various causes.

She had also taught in the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. Her work now with the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition pushes for the divestment from the fossil fuel industry, and holds companies and other entities accountable to their climate commitments and for honoring Indigenous rights.

Her supervisor campaign is currently in a beta mode phase, as Fielder plans to hold 100 meetings in the coming months with residents and community leaders throughout District 9 to hear from them what their concerns and needs are, which she will use to inform her campaign platform.

"For me, it is about having enough time to talk to folks in the district," said Fielder, who lives in an apartment near the Valencia Corridor not far from the Women's Building with her nearly 2-year-old cat she adopted in 2021. "I want to hear from neighbors and small business owners about their best ideas for economic recovery, public safety, affordable housing, and so many other things."

Web Extra: For more queer political news, be sure to check http://www.ebar.com Monday mornings for Political Notes, the notebook's online companion. This week's column reported on a gay Oregonian reviving his bid for a U.S. House seat.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/politicalnotes

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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