BENICIA HERALD: Interview with Mayor Elizabeth Patterson

Repost from the Benicia Herald online edition
[Editor:  Some have questioned the consistency if not the objectivity of the Benicia Herald's coverage of 2016 candidates for election. Complaints have centered on timing and differences in style and depth of coverage as well as the number of column-inches devoted to each candidate. Kudos and thanks to the Herald for covering these important local races. Our only local newspaper is definitely improving. - RS]

Candidate Spotlight: Seven questions with Mayor Elizabeth Patterson

By Elizabeth Warnimont, October 26, 2016
After four years on the city council, Elizabeth Patterson was elected mayor in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. Now she is looking at a third term. (File photo)

After four years on the city council, Elizabeth Patterson was elected mayor in 2007 and re-elected in 2011. Now she is looking at a third term. (File photo)

The Benicia Herald recently invited Mayor Elizabeth Patterson for an interview, to discuss her campaign for re-election. Mayor Patterson provided responses to the following questions posed by the Herald.

1. How did you get into politics? When were you first interested?
I was always keenly aware that we had limited natural resources, but it was the first (national) Earth Day when I started getting involved in the politics behind it. I felt it was a good place to start, to be involved and organized around this concept.

That evolved over the years, being involved in a host of issues including coastal access, which caught my interest being a second-generation native Californian. There was a close connection at that time – it was easy to gather key people together. I was able to galvanize support (around that issue), and that’s how the Coastal Act effort began.

I discovered that planning was the hub for community health, and civic and commercial function. It became obvious to me that we need to be thoughtful in planning in order to have economic health and community well being. All these concerns are spokes off the center of planning.

2. What have you accomplished as mayor, and
3. What goals do you have for the next term?

I respect our General Plan, and I work to honor the law. If re-elected, I would continue to hew closely to the General Plan.

My major accomplishments to date include taking on a leadership role in forming our Community Sustainability Commission, which is tied to the Valero Good Neighbor Steering Committee, and the Arts and Cultural Commission. There are many talented people in Benicia, and I have tapped into their backgrounds and abilities. I handled the logistics and strategy for getting those commissions approved.

4. What issues in this race do you feel you’re most qualified to address, and
5. What direction do you think Benicia is heading?

My vision is for a thriving Benicia. That is dependent on our investing in high-speed and affordable internet service in the Industrial Park. Re-branding the Benicia Industrial Park to the Benicia Business and Industrial Park would attract businesses that may be deterred by the name “Industrial Park.” Putting on a third Clean Tech Expo would demonstrate that we are open to clean tech industries. A third of job growth is in clean tech, and it’s what the new generation of millenials is interested in. We need to begin planning now for the expansion of the industrial park with Seeno. The Enhanced Infrastructure Finance District is a perfect tool toward that end, but it needs direction, and commitment from the city council.

6. In what areas do you think Benicia has succeeded in the past, and where has it fallen short? How can we do better?
Well, prior to the 1980s, some major decisions were made that in hindsight can be seen to have met short-term needs without taking some long-term issues into account. When the Army left (Benicia’s Arsenal district), they didn’t have any plans for transfer of use or cleanup. The State Department of Parks and Recreation wanted the land, but the decision was made at that time to go with an asphalt plant instead. It was a road not taken. (A state historic park) would have celebrated our Civil War-era history.

The other decision was the planned unit development of Southampton, which at that time was the largest planned-unit development project in California. The challenge now is to enhance the Southampton area with the same new direction, moving toward water conservation and re-use, walkability and driving less, and taking steps toward making housing more affordable for new families.

We have an aging population. There will be many demands for people to downsize. The housing is expensive for young people. That is a big structural problem that we have, and there are ideas out there that we can take small steps, make small adaptations, that would sustain the area.

Some of the best decisions that have been made over the past 25 years were the preserving of our historical heritage, protecting our unique historic neighborhoods and buildings, including the lower arsenal, and recognizing the value of arts and culture, which leads to economic vitality and community desirability.

7. Finally, why should Benicians vote for you over your opponent?
I have experience they can trust. In any election, you want people to focus on leadership; leadership with vision, courage and heart. The public knows me and can depend on me to do that. I like to engage the public. I believe that a public engaged is a public that can move forward together. My opponent (Vice Mayor Mark Hughes) has specifically pushed against workshops and study sessions, calling them a waste of time.

Valero is a classic example. With early conversation, by inviting public involvement, it is quite possible that we would have much more clarity about the critical issues. We wouldn’t have had to go from a negative declaration that was rejected, to a draft environmental impact report that was rejected and had to be recirculated.

That is the key difference between me and my opponent. I believe in public engagement and participation. Participatory decision-making doesn’t mean I relinquish my authority. It means I have more and better information and therefore a better ultimate decision.

For more information on Mayor Patterson’s campaign, visit or


For information on other Benicia candidates, visit the following BeniciaHeraldOnline links:

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LETTER SERIES: Marilyn Bardet – Mike Ioakimedes for Solano County Supervisor

[Editor: Benicians are expressing themselves in letters to the editor of our local print newspaper, the Benicia Herald. But the Herald doesn't publish letters in its online editions - and many Benician's don't subscribe. We are posting certain letters here for wider distribution. - RS]

A vote for Mike Ioakimedes for Solano County Supervisor

By Marilyn Bardet
October 25, 2016

As a Benicia resident since 1986, and with long experience engaged with planning issues in our city, I’m voting for Mike Ioakimedes for county supervisor. I’ve always appreciated Mike’s encouragement of public dialogue, not only for sake of hashing out contentious issues, but for results: toward resolute, evidence-based decision-making that has helped shape our community for the better.

Mike’s earnest, quiet diplomacy — much needed in a time of hardening ideological entrenchment — serves principled action.

On Benicia’s city council, Mike addressed a large-scale business park development proposal for the Seeno property, making clear that, as originally presented, it would violate mandates of AB32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, since the plan not only did not reduce “vehicle miles traveled” that contribute to increases in GHG, but also ignored a 243% projected increase in traffic on East 2nd St, thus to further compromise air quality and public health, especially for children at Semple elementary, located along East 2nd, in close proximity to I-780 and the refinery.

Recently, Mike opposed Valero’s Crude By Rail Project citing the city’s land use authority to protect public health and safety.

For similar reasons, he’s concerned that the cement plant proposed in Vallejo would significantly increase daily truck traffic and impact air quality.

Mike’s advocacy for applying sustainability criteria when evaluating development plans is especially crucial for the county in light of future unprecedented costs of climate disruption — the hard reality our children will inherit.

Mike believes we can change the way we do business and move away from fossil fuel dependence, for example, by improving public transit options.

Through his experience in city government, his openness to the change we need and his commitment to the kind of decision-making we deserve, Mike will guide the county in ways that make economic, social and environmental sense for our whole region. Please join me and vote for Mike!

Marilyn Bardet
Member, ex officio, Benicia Community Sustainability Commission

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LETTER SERIES: Kathy Kerridge – how to elect Elizabeth and Steve

[Editor: Kathy Kerridge asked me to help distribute her letter, below.   - RS]

How you can help elect Elizabeth Patterson and Steve Young

By Kathy Kerridge
October 24, 2016

Kathy Kerridge

There are only two weeks to go before the election and Mayor Patterson and Steve Young need your help.  This will be a close election and if you want to see Mayor Patterson reelected and Steve Young elected to city council please donate an evening or two of your time.  We need help phone banking on Oct. 25, 27, Nov. 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 (from 6 to 8:30) and on November 8 (8am on).  We also need help walking precincts on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 to 2.  Please email Kathy Kerridge at, or call 745-8049 to let us know when you can help.

Mayor Elizabeth Patterson will put Benicia First.  She is the best mayor we’ve ever had in my opinion.

    • She raised safety concerns early in the process and led the council to a no vote by voting against the project at the first opportunity.
    • She has shown leadership on ensuring a safe and reliable water supply.
    • Mayor Patterson is leading efforts at the city council to put a cap on refinery emissions – no increase in air pollution.
    • She wants to diversify our businesses to be less dependent and beholden to Valero.
    • Elizabeth will promote Clean Tech.
    • She believes in protecting open space (endorse by Solano County orderly Growth Committee and Sierra Club).
    • Elizabeth Patterson is endorsed by Solano Democrats, Mike Thompson and Mariko Yamada.

Steve Young has served for the past four years as a planning commissioner.   He will provide new ideas and leadership to the council.

    • Steve has 30 years of experience in managing and directing local government projects in the fields of military base conversion, redevelopment and economic development.
    • He served on Benicia’s Planning Commission since 2012, where he thoroughly studied, raised questions and voted to oppose Valero Crude by Rail.
    • Steve will bring new ideas to our city council and has the ability to ask tough questions.
    • Steve believes the city should decide how to develop the Seeno property rather than just responding to a residential development application.
    • Steve supports the proposal to replace half of the city’s water used by Valero with treated wastewater.

- Kathy Kerridge

Elizabeth’s website is
Steve’s website is

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Important issues for the future of Benicia