The road to election night on the Gillibus

Jackie Fielder used the popular party bus to ride around San Francisco rallying last minute voters on election day


Jackie Fielder started using Gillibus to campaign in August as an alternative to expensive billboard advertising. On Election Day, Fielder and her volunteers rode the bus to landmark spots around San Francisco to interact with constituents. (Saylor Nedelman / Xpress Magazine)

The Gillibus, a long powder blue vintage bus, sat parked at a gas station on the corner of 19th Avenue and Irving Street. On the opposite side of 19th, former California State Senate candidate for District 11, Jackie Fielder stood with supporters holding a sign and passing out voter guides. The 25-year-old organizer for public banking then got back on the party bus–turned campaign billboard on wheels to head to her next stop in San Francisco on Nov. 3, 2020.

Fielder spent her time outside of the bus passing out voter guides and encouraging last minute voter registration. Sean Stout ran up to Jackie Fielder on the corner of Market and Castro to wish her luck on election night and express that he voted for her. (Saylor Nedelman / Xpress Magazine)

Fielder began campaigning with the Gillibus in early August, according to the bus owner, Alex Maxa.

“This is something that we would have done no matter whether there was a pandemic or not,” Maxa said, referencing his choice to work with Fielder. Maxa expressed that he felt like driving the bus for Fielder was the best way for him to contribute to a local campaign.

“It’s a great outlet because we’re all paying attention to some extent to the news,” Maxa said. “It’s like doing a workout politically, without getting involved in Donald Trump’s world, or, you know, that whole fight because you’re choosing between two people there. But locally there’s so much stuff going on.”

Maxa said that people typically reach out to him to work with the Gillibus and Fielder was no different. After a quick text to his roommate, Maxa explained that Fielder had called Maxa’s roommate as a part of voter encouragement and he ended up offering Maxa’s bus as a campaign vehicle. Maxa hopped on board and volunteered his service and a bus to support Fielder and her campaign.

Before running for office, Fielder joined the notable fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) alongside her Indigenous family and community. DAPL was a large, grassroots effort that garnered a lot of media attention. She then moved to San Francisco and co-founded the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition. She also lectures at San Francisco State University in the College of Ethnic Studies

As a young, queer, Indigenous woman of color, Fielder can connect to a large intersection of communities who want more political representation on issues such as affordable housing, climate change and police reform. When asked how young people can further support the Indigenous community, Fielder explained that “so much of it is education, because I mean, native people are largely still invisible.” She mentioned that joining native-lead organizing is a great way for people to get more involved in the continuing fight for better representation.

After a draining day of campaigning that started at 5 A.M., Fielder finds a moment of peace amid a day of chaos. (Saylor Nedelman / Xpress Magazine)

1:20 P.M.

The campaign tour had started in the Mission District around 10 in the morning. The journey was nothing like The Boys on the Bus, a non-fiction book about all-male journalists on the 1972 presidential campaign trail. However, the general lack of sleep was a similar theme. This was the girls on the bus, with the exception of the driver.

Fielder stepped off the bus on Mission Street in the Castro District and headed for the Soul Cycle corner. She talked a bit about her future in politics and how she will continue to use her platform to create change.

“Either outcome, I’m going to be dedicating a lot of energy to transforming our representation in Sacramento and elsewhere.” Fielder said.

Fielder is the youngest person to run for California State Senate. Michael Rubio was formerly the youngest at 28. Fielder explained that her ability to utilize social media has helped her campaign a lot. She expressed she wants to make politics more relevant to people’s lives, especially young voters.

“We all know what young people need,” Fielder said. “It’s really a matter of having someone who understands that and who’s accountable to movements.”

Jackie Fielder made it a point to partner with and support other local candidates, meeting with them and their representatives at each stop to campaign together. Connie Chan joined Fielder on the bus after they participated in a livestream interview with Brandon Harami, Chair of the San Francisco Berniecrats. (Saylor Nedelman / Xpress Magazine)

2:23 P.M.

At the final stop of the day, Fielder met up with Connie Chan, currently in the lead for District 1 Supervisor. They were both interviewed by Mission Local, and had a live interview with the chair of the San Francisco Berniecrats, Brandon Harami. After a long day of campaigning, both candidates left for one last exposure ride through the Richmond District.

As it neared mid afternoon, the two waved through the open windows of the bus, calling to passersby to “go vote!” as Mitamiyo by Mendes & Mendes played over the bus speakers.

With the intensity and emotions of election night at an all time high, San Franciscans seemed excited to engage with candidates waving from inside the vintage blue bus. (Saylor Nedelman / Xpress Magazine)

At the time of publishing, Scott Wiener led by 59.1% with a seeming victory.