Building on the momentum of recent electoral wins for progressives, state Sen. Scott Wiener faces a challenger running to to his left.
Jackie Fielder, a democratic socialist activist, pulled papers on Monday to run against Wiener for his California Senate District 11 re-election bid, SF Weekly has learned. Wiener, a former supervisor, narrowly won his first term to represent San Francisco, Daly City and Colma in 2016 after beating progressive board colleague Jane Kim, though not in the primary.
But Fielder feels motivated by the November victories over incumbents that brings reformer Chesa Boudin as District Attorney and democratic socialist Dean Preston as District 5 Supervisor.
“They obviously represent a shift in San Francisco’s future and show that San Francisco is ready for challenging the establishment and doesn’t want incrementalism,” Fielder tells SF Weekly. “The Democratic Party loves to say that they care about poor people and people of color, and they do on the surface until it comes to putting money where their mouth is.”
She gives Wiener credit as a smart policy wonk but is troubled by his, and much of the California Legislature’s, support from real estate interests. He authored Senate Bill 50, a controversial re-zoning bill that was shelved after uproar for its feared exacerbation of gentrification. In a message to supporters earlier this month, Wiener touted success in authoring 36 signed bills around LGBT rights, mass incarceration, climate change, health care and mental health.
Fielder is of Mexican and indigenous descent, enrolled in the affiliated Hidatsa and Two Kettle Lakota tribes. The 25-year-old grew up in Long Beach and graduated from Stanford University in 2016 with both a bachelors and a masters in public policy and sociology, respectively.
Despite her degrees, lecturing at San Francisco State University’s College of Ethnic Studies, and two server jobs, she’s living out of her van while crashing with friends.
“If you’re alive right now and you have shelter, you have food, you have leisure time, that is considered a luxury and that’s not how it’s supposed to be,” Fielder says. “A lot of us who are working full-time jobs and are feeling bleak about the future and are onto something and that is a feeling to trust that none of this is okay.”
Since moving to San Francisco in June 2018 and joining the local Democratic Socialists of America chapter, Fielder has thrown her free time into pursuits like defeating the 2018 police union-backed taser measure Proposition H.
That’s why Fielder is running on: a Green New Deal for California, statewide rent control, $20 minimum wage, single-payer healthcare, free college, and diverting funds for law enforcement to social services. She’s refusing donations from police unions, real estate developers, fossil fuel companies, billionaires and PG&E.
She’s joined on the March 3 primary ballot by pending challengers Quentin Kopp — a former judge, supervisor and state senator — and Green Party candidate Barry Hermanson. Comparatively, San Francisco’s Assemblymembers David Chiu and Phil Ting are running unopposed.
If she rings a bell to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or, locally, school board member Gabriela López, she understands that it may because they all are relative rarities when it comes to working-class people in power. But she resists a full comparison.
“I am definitely not the next [Ocasio-Cortez], I am me,” Fielder says. Also, she likes to surf in her free time. “That’s a normal thing about me.”