Six candidates in San Francisco’s District 9 supervisor race participated in a town hall meeting Tuesday to make their case for why Latinx communities in the Mission District, Bernal Heights, and Portola neighborhoods should vote for them in the high-stakes November election.

The town hall was hosted by the San Francisco Latinx Democratic Club and five other local organizations that serve the city’s street vendors, immigrants and working-class communities. Trevor Chandler was the only supervisor candidate who did not attend.

The candidates addressed myriad issues, including how they plan to support affordable housing, the Mission’s street vendors and the city’s broader Latinx communities.

Amid the city’s influx of homeless migrant families and President Joe Biden’s recent executive order to temporarily block migrants from seeking asylum at the border when crossings surge, here’s how candidates answered the critical question:

Why should District 9 immigrant communities support you?

Julian Bermudez

I’m Julian Bermudez. And why District 9 immigrants should support me is because I’m a first generation, Mission born. But anyways, my grandpa and my dad escaped the tyrannical government in Nicaragua in the 70s and ended up here in San Francisco. And they worked every single day to give me the life that I have the privilege to live, so I can be up here fooling around and trying to be here in the Board of Supervisors. And if I really want to make my grandpa and my parents proud, I’ll do the best that I can. Even though every single day I go through adversity from the color of my skin to my last name, because that last name is a barrier. Being from the Mission, I went to St. Peter’s. I didn’t go to see St. Ignatius. I didn’t go to [a] top school. But I’m still out here trying to do my best. And that’s why I’m trying to make every immigrant know that you can do your best. And I am here as a visual representation, as a product of what you can give.

h. brown

I want to make a walk down Mission and those 55 empty storefronts, like a walk through Amsterdam. You’re going to have a real mix there. You’re going to have [inaudible]. You’re going to have a big Indian casino, running down at the armory. You’re going to have foot patrols with cop boxes at 16th and 24th Mission. We had them when Feinstein was mayor. I don’t see why we can’t have them now. But you make money and you stick together. My last wife got an invitation. Real fancy. And she was disturbed. And she said she threw it away. She said, “I took it out of the trash,” and I said, “what is this?” She said, “it’s from them.” It was from 500 years ago when the Jews were thrown out of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. They kept contact with each other for 500 years and they were having a party. So ya’ll keep contact with each other.

Jackie Fielder

My grandparents came here from Monterrey, Mexico. My grandpa was an orange picker. That was his first job here in the US. My grandmother was a homemaker. It is due to their path of citizenship that I am here today. And that is why I’m really concerned about the news today and why I will keep talking about the 900+ person waitlist. We didn’t even see this ten years ago with unaccompanied minors. And there is no extra budget for immigration legal defense. Our community ambassadors are at risk of being cut. These community ambassadors have paid out of their own pockets to house immigrant families who are sleeping in bus shelters and on playgrounds, because there’s nowhere else to go in this city. And so I think [about] investing in legal services. Investing in our bringing back our community ambassadors and tripling them to connect people to services, to housing treatment. Bottom line, we cannot say we are a sanctuary city as long as our immigrant families are sleeping on the streets, as long as there are 2300 homeless SFUSD students and hundreds of newcomers students with nowhere to rest their heads. So as supervisor, I will fight for housing of our homeless, immigrant families, legal defense, and of course, our community ambassadors. Thank you.

Jaime Gutierrez

I’m Jaime Gutierrez. My people are from El Salvador. My grandmother came in 1941. She was a union worker. She was a Rosie the Riveter. She worked for Coast Envelope Company. She bought her house for 23,000 bucks in 1962. In 62, my mother came and she was a laundry woman at St. Francis hotel. She met my father, and he was a laundry man. They were union people. My grandmother gave me a work ethic like nobody’s business. She kicked my butt like nobody’s business. Was a bag of nails. But I loved her. That’s the bottom line. She wanted me to be a good boy. That was a dying wish. And I believe that I’ve held that up. And I believe that immigrant families should be the first in line to get any sort of housing that comes from the city. The second in line would be people that are from unions. They should be subsidized for their housing and to keep them here. Because we gotta keep the wheels of the city churning. And the hardest workers are immigrant families. At least that’s my experience. And, I’m going to stick with that, thanks.

Roberto Hernandez

During the pandemic, I started the Mission Food Hub out of my garage with my wife, Marianna, who’s in the back. Thank you to my wife, my family. And we just thought it was going to be something short, and it wasn’t. And we moved out of my garage. We moved it to 701 Alabama. Michigan Vocational Language and Vocational School. Out of there we started the Latino Task Force. We provided over 9,000 families groceries every week. And it was fresh, culturally appropriate groceries. And I did that intentionally. Number one. Number two, we provided services. We provided vaccines. We provided, you know, every kind of service. When people came to us, the majority were immigrants. And one of the things that I learned during that time, that there was over 3,000 people who were cash workers. Cash workers have no unemployment, have no social security, have no retirement, have absolutely no benefits at all. And so during that time, collectively as a community, we fought for the rights of those immigrant members of our community. And we were able to get resolutions through the Board of Supervisors. We were able to get services for our community. And I know having that experience today and knowing how immigrants are affected, I will use that knowledge and skills to be able to elevate the needs of our immigrant communities. Thank you.

Stephen Torres

I ask for your support. I don’t presume to have it. The reason why I say that is because I come from a family of immigrants. They don’t give their support lightly. It’s for people who are going to fight on their behalf. In terms of a hard example of what I have done before. During lockdown, I worked with the Latino Task Force and the cultural district program to provide testing and vaccinations, for mostly because the Mission Hub was getting completely annihilated by so many people coming from outside the district. Because they were trying to provide services for people here. So I worked with them to open another site. Also, because so many workers that I work with in the nightlife and service industry have no resources, and they had to keep going to work. And they had to keep their families safe. So we had to open a site so they could test on the way to work. That it was convenient and they could keep their families safe and keep working, even though they should have been able to stay home.

A town hall hosted by the San Francisco Latinx Democratic Club and five other local organizations asked District 9 candidates to make their case for why Latinx communities should vote for them in the November election in San Francisco, Calif. On Jun 4, 2024. Photo: Andrew Brobst / 48Hills