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ElectionsCampaign TrailFielder, Chandler spar at D9 debate that draws sizable crowd

Fielder, Chandler spar at D9 debate that draws sizable crowd

Chandler refuses to support cease-fire resolution and opposes district elections as differences between candidates become clear.

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Roughly 200 people or more showed up at El Rio Wednesday night to hear six candidates for District 9 supervisor debate—and two of them stood out.

Jackie Fielder, who was the first to enter the race challenged Trevor Chandler, a public-school teacher who is by far the most conservative of the candidates, on his record as a former outreach director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is spending big money to oust progressives in Congress and has endorsed 109 Republicans, and asked his position on the recent ceasefire resolution.

@48hillssf Well that was exciting wasn’t it? For spicy in-depth coverage of this debate visit 48hills.org to get Tim Redmond’s full report. Link in bio! Huge shoutout to the @harveymilkclub, @elriosf all co-hosts and sponsors of this debate! Shot by: Andrew Brobst and George Barahona #SanFrancisco #Politics #MissionDistrict #Portola #BernalHeights #District9 #SF #BayArea ♬ Vlog ・ Chill out in the lounge at night(1279860) – Ninja Muzik Tokyo

Chander, who doesn’t mention his five years with AIPAC on his website bio,  said he would not have voted for the resolution because it didn’t sufficiently recognize the atrocities Hamas committed in its attack on Israel Oct. 7.

The resolution, sponsored by Sups. Dean Preston and Hillary Ronen and amended by Sup. Aaron Peskin, states

That the San Francisco Board of Supervisors condemns Hamas’s attack on Israeli civilians, resulting in the deaths of at least 1,200 Israeli people on October 7, 2023″ and calls for “a full investigation of the conduct of all parties in this conflict and hold all parties and individuals who have overseen or engaged in war crimes and international human rights violations – including but not limited to gender-based violence and killing of children – accountable.

The crowd was clearly on Fielder’s side, and Chandler was booed for saying he wouldn’t support the measure. All the other candidates said they would have voted for it.

Jaime Guiterrez, Roberto Hernandez, Trevor Chandler, Stephen Torres, Jackie Fielder, and Julian Bermudez appeared at the debate. Michael Petrelis is also running but wasn’t present. Photo by Andrew Brobst

He also stood out as the only one of the six candidates present who refused to support district elections of supervisors, saying in prefers a “hybrid” system.

That’s a talking point for the billionaires who want to take over local politics. Any system that allows for more citywide elected supes is a recipe for more big money in the system.

Chandler, who is pushing what is essentially the mayor’s agenda on law enforcement, asked the other candidates if they support arresting people who use drugs in public. None of them did. (Roberto Hernandez smiled and said “marijuana.” Julian Bermudez said “smoke up.”)

Chandler talked about arresting fentanyl dealers (nobody’s against that); Fielder said the city had failed people dying of overdoses, but that the solution wasn’t more cops arresting more people.

Jackie Fielder put in a strong performance at the debate. Photo by Andrew Brobst

Stephen Torres pointed out that the mayor and the cops have consistently ignored the advice of public health officials.

When the debate turned to small business, Fielder was the only one who raised what I think is one of the most important issues: “The city rolls out the red carpet for big business,” she said, “but the big problem is commercial landlords who won’t rent out space.”

A lot of storefronts are vacant not because of red tape and regulations, but because, as they say, the rent is too damn high. Landlords don’t want to sign long-term leases at post-Pandemic rates when the value of that land might go up in a year or two.

Soleil Ho, the Chron’s exceptional city columnist, points this out in a piece about why it’s so hard to operate a restaurant in San Francisco. Some of it is bureaucracy; a lot of it is rent.

Chandler talked a lot about holding city departments accountable; fair enough. But it took Torres and Fielder to point out that most city departments report to the mayor. “We should hold the mayor accountable,” Torres said.

“We need a new mayor,” Fielder said.

My takeaways: People in D9 are really engaged in the supervisor election. This was a huge crowd for an event nine months before anyone will get a ballot, and most of the people there were not part of any individual candidate’s organizing efforts.

It was a Bernal Heights-Mission crowd, and the district also includes Portola and areas with potentially more conservative voters—but the folks at this event were far more with Fielder than with Chandler.

But it’s a long haul to Election Day, and Chandler will have plenty of money and probably the support of the mayor and her allies, who will see this as a chance to flip what has always been a strongly progressive seat.

(BTW, Chandler refers to himself on his website as a “tough progressive.” That’s at best misleading. “Progressive” is a word that means something in San Francisco; it refers to people who are on the social and economic left. There are no legitimate progressives who oppose district elections or support arresting people for using drugs in public.)

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Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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