Trevor Chandler posing with a sign advirtizing Trevor Chandler. Congrats on the wedding!

Photo provided by Adrian Chang

Alumni, activist Trevor Chandler visits campus for Sidore Lecture

Kay Bailey


Publication Editor, Vice-President of PSU Democrats


For better or for worse, Trevor Chandler ’09 seeks out confrontation wherever he goes. In his Sidore Series lecture Thursday night,  titled “Getting Along is Boring, Let’s Fight; Embrace Conflict and Live the Most Interesting Life”, Chandler highlights his main focuses as sex, religion, and politics: “all things you are not supposed to talk about at the dinner table.”

After graduating from Plymouth State University in the spring of 2009 with a major in Political Science, Chandler began his unique approach toward modern politics. First joining the fight for marriage equality in New Hampshire, Chandler traveled the country engaging in discourse over the importance of elevating LGBTQ+ voices and sharing personal stories that broke from the norm. Chandler then later joined the American Israel Public Affairs Committee as their Progressive Outreach Director, advocating for a focus on securing relations with the controversial Middle Eastern country. Now, Chandler is using his experience in navigating hard-won issues to run for D9 supervisor in San Francisco, CA.

From the vaults, by Tom

While serving as student body president, Chandler worked relentlessly to better the campus community the way he best saw fit. He considered SGA as a way to get involved, noting that One of Chandler’s biggest accomplishments at Plymouth was during the 2008 presidential primaries, where he brought several headliner candidates including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain onto campus to engage with students. 

Chandler noted that his moves in SGA were well known to “rub some people the good way, rub some people the bad way.” Chandler fought with PSU’s allocations committee over a planned increase to the student activities fee triumphantly reflecting that “I felt they raised the student activities fee too high. And despite not having an official veto, I filibustered until the senate voted it down and sent it back,” effectively lowering allocations dispersed as well. Actions like this were what resulted in Chandler being the target of a tasteful political cartoon published in an earlier iteration of The Clock.

“The toughening of my skin, given the combative Student Government scene at the time, absolutely prepared me for everything.” As he moved away from the small political scene of Plymouth, Chandler feels it’s important to add, “There is no path for me to get where I am today without Plymouth…where it didn’t start with the connections that I made here.”

Chandler’s widespread success in the Marriage Equality Movement was made possible by instigating conflict conversations: “It’s not just fighting for the sake of fighting. It’s purposeful, empathetic conflict.” He went on to stress his significant concerns for the country as a whole but more specifically what he considers his progressive movement, stating: “There’s a trend that’s getting more pronounced of people who say, I’m right, you’re wrong. I don’t need to prove myself to you. I don’t need to debate my existence with you. It goes against my values to debate who I am to this person. I think that’s very dangerous for the movement. That cocooning rather than engaging has actually put [LGBTQ+] rights and a lot of other issues at risk of being pushed back.” Chandler believes that we need these difficult conversations now more than ever. Without facilitating an environment where we can debate our beliefs, no progress will be made towards some civic peace. Chandler’s claims that marginalized communities have to continuously fight for their existence can be cause for some concern. At what point does an argument no longer have a leg to stand on? At what point can insisting on arguing be considered platforming?

In the modern political field, Chandler attempts to label himself somewhere outside of the current left and right spectrum. Through his work with AIPAC, Chandler’s perspective on where his own ideologies fall was challenged.“There’s nothing like foreign policy to enable you to see the hypocrisy on both sides, Republican and Democrat…I realized the political spectrum is a circle. The further you get to the fringes, they start saying the same things with different words.” In political science, this is called Horseshoe theory, and it is widely discredited and questioned for its value by political theorists.  

Currently, Chandler is campaigning for District 9 Representative to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, advocating the needs of the area and its constituents to the city council. If elected, Chandler plans to prioritize “safe and clean streets” in the wake of California’s active drug crisis through conservatorships, supporting small and local businesses, and increasing police staffing. Despite claiming himself as a “hardcore progressive” while guest starring on an episode of “Beyond Politics” a podcast that “examines the deeper issues driving American politics through interviews with senior insiders from government, universities, and political campaigns.”, Chandler’s plans for San Francisco may not align with its historic values. D9 is credited to be a “left-leaning progressive stronghold”; critics have sighted that his own ideologies tend to fall into a “more moderate camp.” Still, Chandler has big plans for the future of San Francisco, stating “I don’t think anyone can look at the issue San Francisco is facing and call it a progressive success story.” A course he believes his PSU-SGA credentials and passion for meaningful conflict conversations could correct.

One thing that Chandler does see the importance of is representation. The district that he is running for is famously diverse, with heavy Latino and Asian populations. When questioned on how he planned to actively represent these communities, Chandler responded with a long pause before noting this was something he took very seriously when deciding whether or not to run, claiming that: “…the reason I decided to get into this race to represent an incredibly diverse district as a white gay man is because I didn’t see anyone who was in the race, talking about the issues that mattered most to the communities of color in the district.”

Chandler also makes a point of noticing the lack of attention the Asian community has received in recent years under D9. The Portola, a heavily concentrated Asian community within D9, even went so far as trying to get redistricted because of the historic neglect. Chandler has “a strong background in building community within the Asian community and allies with them”, and he plans to fight for votes and voices. Chandler doesn’t consider this matter so much a matter of representation, but a matter of respect. “It’s an incredibly diverse district which is why my website is translated into both Chinese and Spanish. And I’m going to be doing a significant in-language campaign within both communities.” 

Whether this attitude of creating discourse in order to get results will secure Chandler’s position as D9 supervisor remains to be seen. There’s still a considerable amount of time until the election in 2024. But if we know one thing from his time at Plymouth, his outreach for LGBT marriage equality, his work in American-Israel relations, and his lecture last night; Trevor Chandler is willing to put up a fight.

Chandler’s visit was made possible through the Saul O. Sidore Lecture series on “Living Curious.” The next installment will be held on Tuesday, October 17 at 7 p.m. and will feature award-winning multidisciplinary artist and public intellectual Shanta Lee. More information on Chandler’s run for D9 Supervisor can be found on his campaign page.

2 thoughts on “Alumni, activist Trevor Chandler visits campus for Sidore Lecture

  1. This is ethical, hard-hitting, and relevant journalism. I always appreciate when publications fact check claims. Thank you, Kay, for your hard work.

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