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Politics & Policy

Jackie Fielder, Trevor Chandler lead pack in race to represent San Francisco’s Mission District

A composite image shows District 9 Supervisor’s candidates Jackie Fielder, left, and Trevor Chandler, right. | Source: Camille Cohen/The Standard; Courtesy Trevor Chandler

More than a year before the election, the race to represent San Francisco’s Mission District is already heating up. 

Frontrunners are touting early fundraising successes, and the race—which includes several candidates so far—is already getting spicy, with a campaign finance investigation in the mix. 

Progressive activist Jackie Fielder and former tech executive Trevor Chandler released fundraising statements within days of each other last week—both designed to position themselves as frontrunners to represent District 9, which includes the Mission, Bernal Heights and Portola neighborhoods. 

Fielder, who last ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat state Sen. Scott Wiener, currently leads the pack in fundraising with $52,000, as of June 27, and said she qualified for $255,000 in public financing. In a July 1 statement, Chandler boasted donations of $53,649 and $179,315 in expected public financing so far. 

District 9’s incumbent, Hillary Ronen, terms out in 2024 and occupies what has been a reliably progressive-leaning seat since the city reinstated district elections in 2000. 

Hillary Ronen speaks at a meeting in San Francisco on June 10, 2019. | Source: Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Ronen has endorsed Fielder, along with her aide Santiago Lerma—one of five other declared candidates in the race. 

Both Fielder and Chandler have positioned themselves as progressives in the race, though they reflect differing priorities in a district that has been shaken by economic upheaval and other consequences of the pandemic. It’s also undergone demographic changes, including the growth of Asian American and immigrant communities in the fast-growing Portola neighborhood in the southern part of the district. 

Changing Neighborhood

The city’s drug addiction crisis has increased the spread of open-air drug-dealing beyond the Tenderloin and SoMa to the Mission, which is beset by marked increases in homeless encampments, illegal swap meets of stolen goods and street prostitution

Chandler, a former policy lead at the public safety app startup Citizen, has carved out a moderate lane on drug and public safety issues, supporting the arrest of drug dealers, closing open-air drug markets, increasing police staffing and expanding conservatorship laws. 

“We’ve built a sophisticated grassroots campaign for the long haul, and we are going to win,” Chandler told The Standard. “There is no denying I am the underdog going up against the City Hall establishment, but there is no place I would rather be.”

A pedestrian passes the Victoria Theatre, located on the corner of 16th and Capp streets in the Mission District in San Francisco, pictured on June 30, 2023. | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

Fielder says she is currently in outreach mode, organizing community meetings throughout the district: “My goal is a hundred meetings, from the Mission to the Portola, to build a community-driven platform,” she told The Standard in a phone call. 

Fielder is also running on her record of advocacy for progressive causes, ranging from environmental policies to public banking; she is currently vice chair of the Local Agency Formation Commission, a local body created by state law that has been used to expand municipal services into domains such as power utilities. 

As part of that advocacy, she organized the Daybreak Political Action Committee in 2021 to support like-minded candidates and advocate for progressive policies. 

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The PAC is described by the San Francisco Independent Journal, a website run by the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America that raised concerns over its writers’ use of pseudonyms, as a way to “grow the movement built by her State Senate campaign.”

Steven Buss, head of the moderate political group GrowSF, alleged in a 2021 complaint to the state Fair Political Practices Commission that Fielder ran the PAC “as her controlled committee and a vehicle for her as she contemplates another run for office,” violating state rules by acting as the committee’s principal officer without required disclosure. 

Asked to comment on the allegations, Fielder said there was no follow-through from the state commission and that “they seemed to be satisfied with our initial response to the complaint.” Fielder confirmed that the Daybreak PAC was shut down earlier this year when she decided to run for supervisor. 

A spokesperson with the commission confirms that the Daybreak PAC investigation remains open. 

Crowded Race

Other declared candidates in the District 9 race include veteran HIV activist and open-government gadfly Michael Petrelis, Julian Bermudez and Rafael Gutierrez. 

“I am running for the District 9 supervisorial seat to participate in debates, raising important concerns regarding government transparency and accountability, and listening to the hopes and fears of voters and residents,” Petrelis told The Standard in an email. 

Bermudez, a Mission native, wrote in an email that after returning home from an Army enlistment, he found a city “with fewer people, vacant spaces, an extremely open drug market, and more homeless.” 

Rafael Gutierrez, who also grew up in the area, is a security guard who The Standard interviewed in 2021 about retail theft

Roberto Hernandez, a local organizer who runs the neighborhood’s Carnaval celebration, has also indicated he plans to run.