We Interviewed Over Two Dozen First-Time Candidates in the 2020 Election — Here's What We Learned

By Melissa Batchelor Warnke

ver the past seven months, Shondaland has interviewed dozens of Democratic or progressive women running for political office for the first time. We wanted to know: What changes do these candidates hope to make? Who are they inspired by? And what have they learned about themselves during their campaigns?

While the gender gap is smaller among Democrats than it is among Republicans, even left-leaning women are much less likely than their male counterparts to consider running for office. There are myriad reasons why women shy away from pursuing politics.

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Out of Left Field: Jackie Fielder Makes Waves

By Olivia Tucker

When Jackie Fielder pulled papers last November to run against Scott Wiener for the state’s 11th Senate District seat — listing a city intersection as her home address, because she was unhoused at the time — few pundits took the then-25-year-old’s campaign seriously.

Then she captured one-third of the vote in the March primaries.

The queer, Indigenous-Latina organizer launched her long-shot bid for Wiener’s seat last November. Running as a democratic socialist, Fielder — a 2016 Stanford graduate and San Francisco State University lecturer — surprised many when she placed second in the three-way March primary, advancing to the general election.

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Watch Scott Wiener and Jackie Fielder answer questions on housing, education and more key issues

It's a classic "only-in-San Francisco" election contest.

Jackie Fielder, a 25-year old activist, college lecturer and Stanford graduate, is challenging the progressive California state Sen. Scott Wiener with an even more progressive platform. It's Fielder's first run for office and she mounted a strong showing in the March primary, collecting a third of the vote to set up this November's all-Democratic general election in the 11th State Senate District...

Fielder is a democratic socialist who describes herself as a “Native American ... Mexicana, and queer educator and organizer.” Her supporters include progressive groups Our Revolution, the California Progressive Alliance and the Democratic Socialists of America. She also has the backing of the California Teachers Association, the San Francisco Tenants Union, San Francisco Supervisors Gordon Mar, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney, along with Mark Sanchez, president of the San Francisco Board of Education.

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Jackie vs. Goliath for California State Senate

By Jennifer Kroot

Jackie Fielder, a young, indigenous, queer, Latina, Democratic Socialist is running for California State Senate. The District 11 seat, held by Scott Wiener, is up for grabs.

When looking around D11, and seeing widening inequality and epidemic homelessness, despite the nonstop erection of luxury units, Jackie couldn’t understand why no one was challenging Wiener. Frustrated by the status quo, she threw her hat in the ring.

Jackie, a California native, was raised by a single mother. “We were low income,” Jackie says, “but my mom worked her butt off as a secretary, so that we always had just enough to get by.”

Jackie, a California native, was raised by a single mother. “We were low income,” Jackie says, “but my mom worked her butt off as a secretary, so that we always had just enough to get by.”

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Jackie Fielder Is Moving Past Liberal San Francisco Politics to Ask, “Who Are We Fighting For?”

By Marke B.

Fielder’s campaign for California State Senate isn’t just historic. As a queer, working class, Indigenous woman of color, she’s running to ensure one of the most liberal political bodies in America begins to recognize the needs of its most marginalized citizens.

The political landscape of San Francisco, a big city crowded onto a tiny peninsula, is notoriously thorny. As to be expected from the home of queer political pioneers like José SarriaPhyllis Lyon, Del Martin, and, of course, Harvey Milk, it is very queer.

But for a city that once prided itself on diversity, someone like Jackie Fielder —the 26-year-old queer, Indigenous Latina socialist running for a state Senate seat representing San Francisco — is becoming a rare sight.

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Approaches to housing at heart of SF state senate race

By Ida Mojadad

Incumbent state Sen. Scott Wiener has authored and backed dozens of bills to increase housing production.

However, his challenger in November’s election Jackie Fielder, a democratic socialist organizer, argues that California needs a dramatically different approach that prioritizes affordable housing...

To Fielder, who is making her first run for elected office, Wiener’s housing approach gives little incentive for cities or developers to prioritize units affordable to low- and middle-income households rather than lucrative market-rate housing.

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Wiener, Fielder face off in state Senate debate

By David-Elijah Nahmod

The two out candidates for San Francisco's state Senate seat faced off Saturday in a wide-ranging debate.

Incumbent state Senator Scott Wiener (D), a gay man, is battling for reelection against a strong challenge by queer educator Jackie Fielder, a democratic socialist.

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Housing is core issue in SF’s Wiener-Fielder Senate race

By Scott Soriano

While most electoral contests in San Francisco are a fierce fight, incumbents up for reelection tend to have an easy run. A year ago, few thought that Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener, a veteran San Francisco politician, would have difficulty defending his Senate District 11 seat.

But when activist and first-time candidate Jackie Fielder came in second in the spring primary – 33% to Wiener’s 56% — people started to comment on the race.

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13 Down-Ballot Races You Should Be Excited About

By Bridget Read

California State Senate, 11th District: Jackie Fielder vs. Scott Wiener

Fielder, a 25-year-old democratic-socialist queer college lecturer, took one-third of the vote in the March primary against Wiener, a 50-year-old gay attorney. The two will face off in the all-Democratic general election; Fielder has criticized Wiener's work defending police officers accused of misconduct while an attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney's Office.

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Fielder Outlines Indigenous Wildfire Plan

By Benjamin Schneider

As skies finally begin to clear following a week of smoke that can only be described as hellish, many Californians are probably thinking, how can we prevent this from happening again?

Yes, California, the U.S. and the world need to begin drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But, as SF Weekly recently reported, in terms of what the state can do to reduce the intensity of wildfires in the near term, the consensus is clear: California needs to burn off a lot more fuel in controlled fires. 

A recently approved program to limit the environmental review process for prescribed burns and vegetation management will help, but money and labor remain major obstacles. California will need to get creative to actually achieve its fire management goals.

That’s where a new plan by San Francisco State Senate candidate Jackie Fielder could come in. Fielder, a lecturer at SF State and leader of the recent campaign for a public bank in the city, has proposed an Indigenous Wildland Fire Task Force that would give Indigenous tribes a more central role in wildfire prevention.

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Scott Wiener challenged from left as Jackie Fielder tries to unseat him in SF

By John Wildermuth

Jackie Fielder, a 25-year-old activist and college lecturer, is mounting a surprisingly strong challenge to state Sen. Scott Wiener in an only-in-San Francisco contest that features a progressive incumbent and an even more progressive opponent.

Fielder, a democratic socialist who describes herself as a “Native American ... Mexicana, and queer educator and organizer,” is making her first run for office against Wiener, a 50-year-old gay attorney who was elected to the state Senate in 2016 after serving two terms on the Board of Supervisors.

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Why I Ran for the First Time: Jackie Fielder is Taking Up Space for the Communities She's Fighting For

By Melissa Batchelor Wanke

When 25-year-old Native American, Latina, queer advocate and educator Jackie Fielder announced that she was running to represent a million Californians, she got the same questions she'd gotten throughout her life. What experience do you have? What do you know? What are your qualifications? She had just three months to mount a campaign against a well-funded and well-connected incumbent in a huge district — and zero campaign cash on hand. Plus, she'd pledged not to take any corporate money. "I thought we would get 3% of the vote," Fielder says. But, in a three-way primary in which the top two candidates, irrespective of party, advance to the general, Fielder earned 33% of the vote. In November, she'll face off against incumbent Scott Wiener, a Democrat, for California's District 11 Senate seat, which represents all of San Francisco and several other cities.

As Fielder notes, California is formidable terrain to organize. It's an enormous state with a huge population and a massive economy. In order to get on voters' radar, you have to make a serious splash. While Fielder is young, she's deeply-rooted as an advocate in the San Francisco area.

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Jackie Fielder blows away Scott Wiener in grassroots support for D11 Senate race

By Ian Firstenberg

In the race for California Senate District 11, challenger Jackie Fielder beat out incumbent Scott Wiener in small dollar local donations during the pandemic months, highlighting the candidate’s grassroots support. 

According to recent finance reports, Fielder collected roughly $215,000 between February and June, compared to Wiener’s $265,000 over the same period. Despite Wiener bringing in $50,000 more than his challenger, some specific numbers lend insight into where each candidate’s financial backing comes from. 

Wiener had 426 itemized donors compared to Fielder’s 602. His unitemized or small donors accounted for under $8,000 of his $265,000 while Fielder’s small donors accounted for $36,000. Of Fielder’s 1,800 unique donors, 1,200 donated under $100, indicating that her support largely comes from working people and not big money donors. 

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Fielder shows surprising strength in state Senate fundraising report

By Tim Redmond

Incumbent state Senator Scott Wiener and his challenger, Jackie Fielder, have raised almost the same amount of money between February and June, campaign finance reports show.

That’s remarkable: Wiener is one of the most prolific fundraisers in San Francisco, and has the formidable power of incumbency. Fielder has never run for public office before.

Yet Fielder in this period raised $215,000 and Wiener raised $265,000.

Of course, Wiener is still way, way ahead in the money totals – he raised so much money before the March primary that he still has more than $800,000 in the bank.

But Fielder’s fundraising is significant – and the reports show a whole lot about how this race is shaping up.

Put simply: Fielder reported some 1,800 unique donors. Almost all of them gave small amounts of money, and most – more than 1,200 — gave less than $100.

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'Cancel rent': Rent a struggle for workers impacted by coronavirus

By Matthew S. Bajko

Jackie Fielder, a queer educator running against gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), has made mortgage and rent cancellation for commercial and residential properties a part of her COVID Recovery Platform. Doing so, she argues, could be paid for by increasing taxes on the state's wealthiest individuals and corporations.

"This is the time we need to be hitting the reset button on the big elephant in the state: income inequality," said Fielder. It is unreasonable for state leaders to demand people to shelter in place and not work in order to halt the spread of the virus and not compensate them for their lost wages, contends Fielder.

"The state has unreasonably expected these people to continue paying for their home and shelter in place," she said. "People shouldn't have to go into bankruptcy or face eviction or foreclosure for simply responding to the needs of public health."

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'Only in San Francisco': The Senate's liberal stalwart guards his left flank

by Carla Marinucci and Jeremy B. White

A Democratic socialist and self-described “Native American and Mexicana’’ activist who identifies as queer, Fielder’s surprising 33 percent showing in the March primary against Wiener’s 56 percent was impressive enough to suggest comparisons to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the former bartender who made history two years ago booting 10-term New York Rep. Joe Crowley, the No. 4 Democrat in the House at the time. So far in this election cycle, Democratic voters have shown an appetite for putting incumbents on the run. Liberal challengers have either ousted longtime members of Congress like Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois or setup nail-biting primaries such as those in New York where ballots are still being counted in close races.

Fielder, a Stanford graduate raised by a single mom and who lives with multiple roommates in a Mission rental, said in an interview she was moved to run for office because “I saw that this particular senator has a long record of being on the wrong side of a lot of his more working class constituents.”

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Jackie Fielder is the Fresh Progressive Voice We Need in the State Senate

By Peter Wong

California D-11 State Senate candidate Jackie Fielder, like her incumbent opponent State Senator Scott Wiener, is out and proud. But there the similarities between the two candidates end. Fielder, at age 25, is half her opponent’s age. She also lays claim to an ethnic heritage combining President Racist-In-Chief’s twin bete noires: Native American (Two Kettle Lakota and Hidatsa) and Mexican. Most importantly, while the incumbent can be called an establishment Democrat, Fielder embraces her affiliation with the Democratic Socialists (Insert alarmed hyperventilating by red-baiting Faux News host here).

Both Fielder and Wiener do offer ideas for addressing the houselessness problem in California. Given that California serves as home to half of America’s houseless citizens, nobody’s denying the problem needs to be addressed. However, Wiener’s solutions generally rely on the benevolence of the luxury housing construction fairy in tinkling down affordable housing units on the less fortunate. 

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Police Union Donations Are a Major Roadblock in Defunding the Police

By Jackie Fielder

I remember the videos of my relatives as they stared down officers wielding semiautomatic weapons. The Indigenous resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Reservation drew opposition from militarized police. Water Protectors were teargassed, attacked by dogs, and blasted with water cannons in subzero temperatures.

Less than four years later, I have seen strikingly similar scenes of violence and chaos play out in my home state of California. This time, I am watching as a candidate for State Senate.

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How George Floyd’s death, anti-racism protests are changing 2020 politics

By John Wildermuth

And the dispute isn’t just between Rep

ublicans and Democrats. In San Francisco, Jackie Fielder, who is running against fellow Democrat Scott Wiener in his state Senate re-election race in November, challenged the former supervisor to refuse any contributions from law enforcement and give back any money he received. Wiener did so and donated the law enforcement contributions he has taken in the past four years to youth groups.

Law enforcement unions are different from the other labor organizations that typically back Democratic candidates, since they have “a monopoly on violence,” Fielder said. “Teachers aren’t murdering people, police are.”

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A Democratic battle in SF’s 11th Senate District

By Joaquin Romero

Jackie Fielder is an activist and educator with her sights set on California’s 11th Senate District, hoping in an uphill race to topple incumbent state Sen. Scott Wiener, a fellow Democrat.

Fielder is young (25), educated (Stanford University), a person of color (both Native American and Latina), an environmental protester and an activist with a background in grassroots organizing. She describes herself as a Democratic Socialist.

Fielder, who was born in Long Beach and raised by a single mother, participated in the Standing Rock protests against the Dakota Access pipeline.

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Senator draws scrutiny in attack on opponent, complicity with police

By Ian Firstenberg

Wiener on May 31 was challenged by his opponent, Indigenous organizer Jackie Fielder, to not accept any more police union money and to donate the $72,000 he has received from police unions during multiple campaigns over the past decade.

Fielder, who has stood by her campaign pledge against accepting police union contributions, circulated a No Police Money Pledge last week. This, in combination with other outside pressure — Wiener was called out publicly at a Mission District march Wednesday — led him to pledge a $25,000 donation.

While this is something, it falls far short of acceptable to Fielder, given that $47,000 in state Senate contributions was unaccounted for. He declined to reject future law-enforcement PAC contributions. 

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Zen and Art of Campaigning from Your Room: A chat with state senate hopeful Jackie Fielder

By Julian Marks

On a computer screen, if you squint just enough, Jackie Fielder’s comforter looks like it’s covered in the white roses that have come to represent the Democratic Socialists of America. 

Fielder is, indeed, a 25-year-old Democratic Socialist running for state senate in the November election. But she informs me that, no, the blanket is just a blanket — not a political statement. 

In fact, few things in Fielder’s room, at least those easily viewed on a computer screen through a Zoom chat on a recent Monday, are overtly political. A pile of unfolded clothes sitting on top of a hamper. A meditation cushion in front of the window. A Zapotec rug on her wall “that I honestly got from Craigslist.”

Nevertheless, the bedroom is now a war room for Fielder’s battle to unseat state Sen. Scott Wiener.

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Candidates switch gears during a coronavirus campaign season

By Ida Mojadad

Jackie Fielder’s candidacy to challenge state Sen. Scott Wiener has been full of surprises since the beginning.

Between a last-minute launch in November 2019 and March 2020, the political newcomer reached 33 percent of votes needed to advance from the primaries to the general election. Her campaign had expected to ride the momentum in the months after by tapping more grassroots volunteers to knock on doors, and discuss issues with voters in person.

Instead, Fielder has redirected her focus and is mobilizing volunteers to hand out personal protective equipment in neighborhoods like the Fillmore and Visitation Valley during an unprecedented shelter-in-place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“The skills you have to organize a political campaign, it turns out, are really transferable to handing out hand sanitizer and masks,” Fielder said. “We’ve found that people are very appreciative to see people doing this for no other reason than to take care of their neighbors.”

In the virtual space, Fielder holds talks dubbed Social(ist) Distancing in a nod to her democratic socialist ideals with guests like Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails, the creators of the film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco.” Volunteers also regularly reach voters through virtual phone banking.

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We need to keep people from losing their homes. Here’s how we do it.

By Jackie Fielder

There’s no way around it: Sheltering in place is the only way to slow the spread of COVID-19. But social distancing demands a rare suite of opportunities and resources. Right now, millions of Californians living paycheck to paycheck, without the ability to work remotely, face impossible choices: stay home and risk losing everything, or make an income and risk spreading the virus? Pay for housing, or pay for food? When we finally “return to normal” and temporary relief efforts lift, responsible Californians stand to lose the very homes in which they sheltered. Unless we take action, the oncoming tsunami of evictions and foreclosures will eclipse even the darkest days of the Great Recession.

The solution is clear: we must cancel rent and mortgage payments in California. Here’s how we get that done.

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Fielder's Progressive Campaign Aims to Give Wiener a Reality Check

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Here in our tiny 7×7 burg, state senate candidate Jackie Fielder has hit the pavement with fervor, flying the Democratic Socialist flag and hoping to channel an AOC-like ascendance against incumbent state Sen. Scott Wiener.

Haven’t heard of her? Well, you may soon. She’s gunning for the hardest-working politician in San Francisco, a man the San Francisco Bay Guardian once dubbed a “Political Machine.”

Well, with Fielder taking a strong 32 percentage points and 43,000 votes in San Francisco as of 10:45 p.m. compared to Wiener’s 72,000, The Political Machine might just spring a leak.

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Indigenous Public Bank Organizer Runs for State Senate

By Laura Wenus

As part of a “Civic” series of interviews with candidates for the state Senate seat currently held by Scott Wiener, Jackie Fielder describes her platform and shares insight into her background. Fielder is an indigenous organizer who co-founded the San Francisco Public Bank coalition. She calls for increased taxation of corporations and billionaires to build and preserve affordable housing, universal rent control and single-payer healthcare.

The primary for this race happens March 3, with the final election in November. Rather than have parties vote to advance their own top candidates, voting for state-level seats in California takes place across party lines, and the top two vote-getters at the primary move on to the general election...

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State Sen. candidate Jackie Fielder introduces housing plan, says SB 50 is on its ‘last legs’

By Julian Mark

State senate candidate Jackie Fielder on Wednesday announced a housing plan that drew a sharp contrast to the policies of the incumbent she’s running to unseat. It focuses on the production and preservation of affordable housing, instead of the streamlined construction of dense, market-rate developments. 

Sen. Scott Wiener “has stood by the conservative economic framework that we can simply build our way out of the housing crisis,” Fielder said, standing among some two dozen supporters at the 16th Street BART plaza at noon.

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Teacher’s Union endorses Wiener opponent for state Senate

By Jeantelle Laberinto

The March State Senate primary in San Francisco is heating up.

Jackie Fielder, the Indigenous-Mexicana queer activist who has been involved in the campaign for a public bank in San Francisco, just scored the endorsement of the United Educators of San Francisco, just weeks before vote by mail ballots drop in San Francisco for the primary on March 3rd.

UESF, with it's 6,000 members, is a significant force in local politics and the largest union to support the upstart challenger.

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Jackie Fielder: Meet the Young Indigenous Activist Running for California's State Senate

By Molly Taft

Jackie Fielder, a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes, is only 25, but she’s been pretty busy for the past few years. Fielder is an activist who has campaigned against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline; helped organize public banking efforts in San Francisco; and worked to defeat a city initiative that would loosen taser use for police in the Bay Area. She's also authored several pieces for Teen Vogue about her activist work.

Now, she’s adding another point to her résumé: running to represent San Francisco in the California state Senate.

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“We Deserve to Not Only Survive, but to Thrive” An Interview with Jackie Fielder

David Palumbo-Liu

For Jackie Fielder, who just announced her bid for a seat in the California State Senate, cutting to the root of the problems facing her state and country requires following the money: “Just look up specific companies and see the campaigns they’re financing. Then see which bills those elected officials either push through or water down through the legislative sessions in any given year.”

Fielder is a young, twenty-five-year-old queer woman of color who is part of a wave of progressive and radical political activists who are running insurgent campaigns.

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Meet Jackie Fielder, the recently homeless indigenous woman who's primarying a San Francisco Democrat in a state senate race

By Cory Doctorow

Until recently, Jackie Fielder was living in her van. At 25, the Stanford sociology grad couldn't afford rent in San Francisco.

Now Fielder—who is of Hidatsa, Lakota and Mandan heritage—is primarying an establishment Democrat to represent District 11 in the California Senate...

Fielder backs transformative, left-wing policies, especially the creation of a public bank (previously) and with it, divestiture of public finance from institutions complicit in crimes against humanity, notably Wells Fargo, a major funder of the Dakota Access Pipeline...

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Indigenous organizer to challenge former SF Sup for State Senate seat

By Ian Firstenberg

Political campaigns—whether local, statewide, or nationwide—are categorized by a calculated, wonkish style of promotion. One that often leaves out or overlooks the desires of working people as being too uninformed to be trusted. Jackie Fielder's state senate challenge to Scott Wiener is flipping this notion on its head.

Fielder is a Mexican-Indigenous organizer who works as a server when she is not lecturing at San Francisco State. She worked with the NODAPL protests in 2015 before championing public banking here in the city. Her work as co-founder of the Public Bank Coalition led to a bill proposed by District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer...

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Quest for divestment drives Native candidate Jackie Fielder’s California Senate run

By Frank Hopper

Did you know there are currently 157 billionaires in California with dozens in San Francisco alone? Yet thousands of people in that city sleep in doorways or in tents under the freeway or in cars.

California State Senate candidate Jackie Fielder, who is of Hidatsa, Lakota and Mandan heritage, knows the score. Until just recently the 25-year-old Stanford graduate was living in a van due to the rising costs of rent in San Francisco.

“Here in San Francisco we have one of the worst Gini coefficients in the world, and it’s not just income inequality. We have thousands of people sleeping on the street every single night"...

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In state senate hopeful Jackie Fielder, San Francisco progressives see their Ocasio-Cortez

Julian Mark

Standing beneath a tarp as rain poured down on the back patio of El Rio Friday night, state senate candidate Jackie Fielder introduced herself. 

She’s 25 and of Mexican and indigenous (Lakota and Hidatsa) descent. She’s a lecturer at San Francisco State University’s ethnic studies department. To supplement her income, she’s served at restaurants and tended bar. When she’s not crashing on her friends’ couches, she’s sleeping in her 1994 Toyota Previa minivan. She’s also openly queer and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

And, as of two weeks ago, she’s the progressive challenger for state Sen. Scott Wiener.

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Meet Scott Wiener’s Democratic Socialist Re-Election Challenger

By Ida Mojadad

Building on the momentum of recent electoral wins for progressives, State Sen. Scott Wiener faces a challenger running 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 that brings reformer Chesa Boudin as District Attorney and democratic socialist Dean Preston as District 5 Supervisor.

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Public bank activist to take on Wiener in 2020 state Senate race

By Laura Waxmann

An indigenous organizer who has been at the forefront of the public bank movement is hoping to give incumbent state Sen. Scott Wiener a run for his money in his 2020 bid for re-election.

Jackie Fielder, a San Francisco State University lecturer and waitress who lives in a van, on Monday pulled papers to run against the incumbent senator in the March 2020 election. The March election is a state senate primary and the top two vote getters advance to the November general election. “I’m running because it think it’s time that we have an outside candidate, especially a woman of color who is openly queer as well, challenge a real estate-backed elected official”...

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