(From left) State Sen. Scott Wiener, JCCSF CEO Paul Geduldig, and JCRC CEO Tyler Gregory at the Wallenberg Club forum, Oct. 24, 2022.
(Photo/Lillian Ilsley-Greene)
(From left) State Sen. Scott Wiener, JCCSF CEO Paul Geduldig, and JCRC CEO Tyler Gregory at the Wallenberg Club forum, Oct. 24, 2022. (Photo/Lillian Ilsley-Greene)

S.F. Jewish Dem club hosts pre-election forum with Breed, Jenkins, Wiener and more

The Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club hosted elected officials, candidates for office and politically curious members of the Jewish community at the JCC of San Francisco Monday night for a panel discussion of the 2022 election just two weeks away.

The S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council co-sponsored the event with the JCC and several congregations and other Jewish community organizations. It featured Mayor London Breed, state Sen. Scott Wiener, more than a dozen candidates — including S.F. Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and District Attorney Brooke Jenkins — and some 80 attendees.

JCRC CEO Tye Gregory said the forum offered candidates the opportunity to pitch themselves to the Jewish community.

“We need to turn out the Jewish vote,” Gregory said. “We also need to make sure that every candidate running in the city is speaking to our issues.”

Four panelists from a spectrum of political thought shared their views on San Francisco measures and on races both local and national.

Attorney and activist Christine Pelosi and Democratic pollster Ben Tulchin addressed congressional races. Pelosi, like her mother,  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has long worked in San Francisco politics. (She’s also been floated as a potential candidate to fill her mother’s seat upon her retirement.) She expressed her concern about outcomes of congressional races in states where rights such as abortion are at risk.

“Democracy is on the line,” Pelosi said during the panel.

Paraphernalia from candidates at the event.(Photo/Lillian Ilsley-Greene)
Paraphernalia from candidates at the event. (Photo/Lillian Ilsley-Greene)

Two other panelists who happen to be Jewish, San Francisco Supervisor Myrna Melgar and journalist Joe Eskenazi, focused on topics of local concern, including ballot propositions and city races. The issues of housing reform and transportation loomed large.

Politics in San Francisco are a microcosm of the national political landscape, Melgar said, especially as younger voters become more and more involved in the city’s processes.

“Voters are angry,” she said. “What we’re seeing in all of this is a generational shift.”

Eskenazi touched on city elections, with many races still contentious two weeks from Election Day, including the competition for S.F. district attorney and re-election campaigns in half of the city’s 11 supervisorial districts.

Later, Wiener and Breed gave short remarks. Breed voiced her support for propositions D, J and L, which concern housing reform, the closure of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park, and funds for local transit. She also asked attendees to vote no on Prop H, which would move local elections to even-numbered years (a measure that would extend her own term by one year).

Though several Breed appointees, including DA Jenkins, are up for their first re-election this cycle, the mayor said it is most important to elect officials who care about the city.

“At the end of the day, elections, they’ll have winners, and they’ll have losers,” Breed said. “But I am hopeful that anyone who does not make it through this election would be willing to roll up their sleeves and continue to try to do work for the city, for the benefit of the city.”

(From left) San Francisco Mayor London Breed, JCCSF CEO Paul Geduldig, and JCRC CEO Tyler Gregory at the Wallenberg Club forum, Oct. 24, 2022.(Photo/Lillian Ilsley-Greene)
(From left) San Francisco Mayor London Breed, JCCSF CEO Paul Geduldig, and JCRC CEO Tyler Gregory at the Wallenberg Club forum, Oct. 24, 2022.
(Photo/Lillian Ilsley-Greene)

Wiener, vice chair of Sacramento’s Legislative Jewish Caucus, reiterated statements he made earlier in the day condemning entertainer Kayne West’s recent antisemitic rhetoric and calling on Adidas to break ties with the artist and fashion designer (which it did mere hours later). Wiener also said that a Jewish presence in the Democratic Party, such as the Wallenberg Club, is vital to having Jewish issues heard on a national level.

The club, founded in 1983, had been dormant in recent years before a resurgence. Co-chair Gia Daniller-Katz said the goal now is to hold events to educate voters, as well as build connections between elected officials and the Jewish community.

Daniller-Katz said she hoped the event inspired attendees and showed “engaged and interested members of the Jewish community [that] they can get involved politically, that they do have a place, whether it’s in our city, state or nationally, in the political process.”

Lillian Ilsley-Greene
Lillian Ilsley-Greene

Lillian Ilsley-Greene is a J. Staff Writer. Originally from Vermont, she has a BA in political science and an MA in journalism from Boston University. Follow her on Twitter at @lilsleygreene.