Political Notes: CA LGBTQ Latino group makes surprising dual endorsement in SF supervisor race

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Monday January 29, 2024
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District 9 supervisor candidates Roberto Hernández, left, and Trevor Chandler were dual endorsed by the Latino LGBTQ political organization HONOR PAC. Photos: Hernández, Jeremy Word; Chandler, courtesy the campaign
District 9 supervisor candidates Roberto Hernández, left, and Trevor Chandler were dual endorsed by the Latino LGBTQ political organization HONOR PAC. Photos: Hernández, Jeremy Word; Chandler, courtesy the campaign

A prominent California LGBTQ Latino political group is throwing its support behind two candidates in the hotly contested race for the District 9 seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In doing so, HONOR PAC is backing a straight Latino leader of the city's Mission district and a gay white substitute teacher who also serves on a statewide pharmacy oversight panel.

It informed Roberto Hernández, dubbed "Mayor of the Mission," and Trevor Chandler, who married his husband in November, of its decision last week. It's doing so would appear to be snubs of the queer Latino and Latina candidates, Stephen Torres and Jackie Fielder respectively, in the race for the open seat on the November ballot.

But Alfredo Pedroza, a gay Mission district resident who serves on the HONOR PAC board, told the Bay Area Reporter it came down to the fact that neither Torres nor Fielder applied for the volunteer-run political action committee's endorsement by the December 8 deadline to do so. Hernández and Chandler had both sought its support and articulated policy positions that align with those promoted by HONOR PAC, he said.

"The simple part of why we endorsed who we endorsed in this race — both Roberto Hernández and Trevor Chandler — is that they represent the issues that are important to HONOR PAC. We are an issues-based PAC not into the personality politics," said Pedroza. "Also, they both reached out to us. They were the only two candidates who reached out in this race for an endorsement."

Chandler also has picked up a dual endorsement from gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), a former District 8 supervisor who last year had endorsed Hernández in the supervisor race. The decision by Wiener isn't much of a surprise for the moderate politician since Fielder ran against him in 2020 and Torres is aligned with the progressive camp of the city's Democratic Party.

Plus, Wiener had backed Chandler's bid on the March primary ballot for a seat on the committee that runs the city's Democratic Party. This month he decided to also endorse the supervisorial candidacy of Chandler, who in addition to serving on the California Pharmacy Board also sits on the Equality California Board of Advisors for the statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization.

"Trevor and Roberto are both exceptional candidates and strong community leaders," Wiener told the B.A.R. "Each of them brings the strength and passion so essential to succeeding at City Hall and in the community. I'm proud to support them."

More of a surprise is the early dual endorsement in the fall contest by HONOR PAC, which touts it "advocates for the political empowerment of Latina/o/e LGBTQ+ communities." Since the political action committee launched in 2005, it has strived to give "the Latina/o/e LGBTQ+ movement a voice in government."

HONOR PAC has been rolling out endorsements of candidates on California's March 5 primary ballot since late December. It received 115 applications from candidates across the country seeking its support and has already endorsed 54 of them, some in general election races on the November ballot Pedroza noted.

The political group had sent out "tons of emails" last year and had its members spread the word about its endorsement process, Pedroza added. With no paid staff, he told the B.A.R. it isn't possible for the group to contact candidates who miss the deadline to be considered for an endorsement.

Even when it does hear from LGBTQ Latino or Latina candidates, it is not a given they will be endorsed, added Pedroza.

"We don't always endorse what we consider the tier one candidate or the LGBTQ-plus Latine candidate," he said, explaining what is more important is where candidates stand on those issues important to HONOR PAC. "We expect them to be pro-choice, to have positions on immigration, health care, housing. All of those things are cumulatively what we look at in our candidates."

In an email to Chandler that he shared with the B.A.R., HONOR PAC officials told him they "are excited to promote your endorsement and mobilize our members and supporters! We expect that this will continue to be a long-standing relationship to champion the issues of importance to the Latina/o/e LGBTQ+ communities and to fight for equity and justice for all."

Chandler told the B.A.R. he earned the group's backing of his candidacy due to his working to expand access to the HIV prevention medication PrEP at pharmacies in order to bring an end to transmission of the disease in California, which continues to disproportionally impact Latino gay men and other marginalized groups. As the B.A.R. reported online January 25, Chandler and the pharmacy board are urging Governor Gavin Newsom to sign into law a bill authored by Wiener that will allow pharmacists to prescribe three-months worth of PrEP without a doctor's prescription rather than the 60-day cap currently in place.

His work on marriage equality and nondiscrimination laws via his roles with EQCA and other groups also helped him secure the endorsement from HONOR PAC, added Chandler.

"I am incredibly proud given D9's large Latino and Hispanic community. I am honored to receive their support in recognition for the LGBTQ community and the Latino, Hispanic community," said Chandler. "I am, again, very honored to get this recognition from a Latino organization, and it shows how committed I am to representing all of D9 and making sure everyone's voice is heard. It is one of the most diverse and vibrant districts in the city, and I am going to make sure I advocate for everybody in the Latino community and the LGBTQ community."

Hernández told the B.A.R. he is "ecstatic" to have earned HONOR PAC's support of his candidacy. He noted he has long been an ally of the LGBTQ community and helped bring HIV testing to the annual Carnaval celebration in the Mission district starting in the 1980s.

"When the AIDS epidemic broke out, I was the first Latino male straight man that joined gay Latino men and started raising the fact with the city of San Francisco that Latino men were not being even thought about when it came to educating or treating or testing," said Hernández, a married father of seven.

Later he would also advocate for better AIDS prevention and services for both the Black and Brown communities, said Hernández. His advocacy around HIV issues was just one of the policy areas he discussed with HONOR PAC during its endorsement process that helped him secure its support, he noted.

"I would say, in general as a civil rights leader, I have always included everybody in the organizing and movements for social justice in our city of San Francisco," said Hernández.

District 9 candidate Stephen Torres recently rolled out more endorsers for his campaign. Photo: Courtesy the campaign  

Torres announces new supporters
Meanwhile, Torres recently announced a slate of his own new dual endorsers, including termed out District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen. She had early endorsed Fielder, who also has American Indian ancestry, last summer along with one of her City Hall aides who decided to suspend his campaign, paving the way for Ronen to dual endorse Fielder and Torres.

"Working families need champions on the Board of Supervisors," stated Ronen in a January 17 release from Torres' campaign. "Stephen understands their struggles because he's been there himself. And he also understands the opportunities possible when we stand together. The culture, small businesses and people of this district should be the foundation for the future and Stephen Torres will work every day to center their voices."

Gay former District 9 supervisor Tom Ammiano and District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston, who is seeking reelection this fall, both early endorsed Fielder in the race last summer. Meanwhile, another of Fielder's early supporters, gay former District 9 supervisor David Campos, has now also dual endorsed Torres in the race.

"District 9 neighborhoods have been a haven for working families for decades but they are increasingly unaffordable to the same folks who make those communities special," stated Campos. "We need to strengthen community safety, protect our small businesses and invest in our residents. Stephen Torres is exactly the type of leader we need to make that happen."

Gay former District 8 supervisor and state legislator Mark Leno also endorsed Torres earlier this month.

"I have fought for San Francisco's working families, small businesses and diverse communities as they are the backbone of our city," stated Leno. "But these are the very folks who have been pushed out and pushed aside over the last decade. Stephen Torres cares deeply about our neighborhoods and our residents and I know he will fight for them in City Hall."

In a January 17 email to his supporters, Torres noted, "I've had the chance to talk to each of these leaders and we agree that our city is at a pivotal moment — we either act now to raise the voices of everyday residents or we risk losing them."

The former city entertainment commissioner also has been endorsed by termed out District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, currently board president, and gay former District 8 supervisor Bevan Dufty, currently president of the board overseeing the regional BART transit agency.

Dual endorsements have become common in San Francisco supervisor races due to the city's use of ranked-choice voting to determine the winners. Voters can rank up to three candidates in their order of preference for them on their ballot.

If no candidate in a contest wins more than 50% of the vote outright then the candidate with the least first-choice votes is eliminated and their voter's ranked choices are then tabulated. The process is repeated until a victor emerges with at least 50% plus one of the vote.

With nine people having pulled papers for the District 9 race ahead of the filing deadline to enter it in early June, it is expected the winner will be determined by ranked choice. Along with the top four leading candidates in the race, others who have filed to seek the open supervisor seat include gay civil rights activist Michael Petrelis; Jaime Gutierrez, who works for the San Francisco Municipal Railway; and Julian Bermudez, a veteran who has lived and worked in the district his whole life.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Threads @ https://www.threads.net/@matthewbajko.

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

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