LETTER SERIES: Delaine Eastin – Elizabeth Patterson, a mayor with courage, vision and heart

[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]

Elizabeth Patterson, a mayor with courage, vision and heart

By Delaine Eastin, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Four-time elected California Assemblymember
November 1, 2016
Delaine Eastin
Delaine Eastin

Individuals can make a difference in the world, and the smaller the group the bigger chance they have to really make a difference. Most of the people who are running for office are pretty intelligent. The fact is they are intelligent whether you agree with them or not. The question is, do they have what I consider the most important qualities. Do they have courage so that they will speak the truth to power? Will they stand up to the likes of Valero and say that we’re not just going to protect just Benicia but a whole bunch of cities right up the road?

I live in Davis, and oil trains are coming right through the middle of Davis. So I need someone who has the courage to stand up to a big and very wealthy company that’s fighting her every step of the way. Elizabeth Patterson’s not going to punt, she’s going to stand up for what’s right. So courage is what I look for.

Vision is another quality I look for, someone who’s looking down the road to see what she can do, for example, about the arts in Benicia. I care passionately about the arts and here we have someone who cares about the arts. She also cares about the environment. She is someone who helped establish a sustainability commission in the community. Some who are opposing her think sustainability is some excessive thing we are doing when it is actually bringing resources to the town and helping this wonderful city be better, stronger, cleaner and nicer. So courage and vision are really important to me.

Last, but certainly not least, I’m endorsing Elizabeth Patterson because she has heart. At the end of the day, heart is really and truly one of the things we are afraid to talk about because we think we will choke up or we will get mushy, or somehow people will think we are soft. This election is all about tomorrow. “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow” is that wonderful [Fleetwood Mac] song, and the truth is I love another line about tomorrow, “Children are a living message we send to a time we will never see.” [Neil Postman]

We need people of heart who will care about children, about the message we will send to the future and who will give children the encouragement in knowing there is someone willing to stand and deliver.

I encourage your vote and support for one great lady, Elizabeth Patterson.

Delaine Eastin, Davis, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction, Four-time elected California Assemblymember

    VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD: Steve Young wants to bring his local governance experience to Benicia office

    Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald

    Steve Young wants to bring his local governance experience to Benicia office

    By Katy St. Clair, 10/31/16, 6:54 PM PDT
    Steve Young
    Steve Young, Benicia City Council candidate

    Steve Young is hoping to put his experience in the field of local government to work for Benicia by serving on the City Council. Originally from Burbank, he has worked and lived in California, Virginia, and Costa Rica, but now calls Benicia home.

    He graduated from University of Califonia at Berkeley with a degree in political science and has a masters degree in urban policy and administration from San Francisco State, he said.

    Young was appointed to the Benicia Planning Commission in 2012 and, along with his wife Marty, is a member of Arts Benicia and Friends of the Library. He said he has spent 25 years managing programs in housing rehabilitation, neighborhood improvement, affordable housing development, code enforcement, redevelopment, and economic development.

    Young loves many things about Benicia, including its “small-town feel, great access to the water, and the friendliness of the people.”

    He also appreciates how many people are actively engaged in local issues as well as Benicia’s strong arts community. As a councilmember, he’d like to make sure the historical assets and character of the town are preserved through a combination of private, non-profit, and public involvement.

    But he does want to address what he calls the biggest challenges the city faces, one of which is water security. Young promotes utilizing treated wastewater from Valero instead of using raw water.

    “The proposal would, when implemented, provide the city with some certainty concerning this most precious of all our resources,” Young said in an email.

    Benicia’s ongoing budget issues are also a big challenge, he said. Part of the problem is that Benicia is a “full service city trying to operate without the revenue of a full service city,” adding that the City Council will have to come to terms with the idea that everything Benicia citizens appreciate about the town may not be sustainable over time.

    “The city will need to increase sales tax revenue or reduce expenses, or both,” he said.

    One way to raise revenues is to increase business in Benicia. While Young praises the city’s great location and access to transportation, he’d like to see a more modernized business plan that will attract larger businesses.

    “The fact that basic internet service is lacking in the Industrial Park says volumes about why economic growth has been slow to come here,” he said. “The city will have to become more aggressive in its outreach to companies looking to relocate, and the installation of broadband or fiber cable is a mandatory first step.”

    Another issue facing Benicia is its lack of affordable housing for low-income and senior citizens. This is an area Young says he’d like to tackle.

    “The city has done little recently to address this need,” he said, stating that only the minimum necessary has been done to keep the Housing Element of the General Plan in conformance with state law. One suggestion he has is to lower the threshold for the city’s density bonus law, a policy that gives incentives to builders who include low-income housing into their plans. “It applies only to developments of 10 or more units,” he said, “and has not resulted in the construction of any units since its implementation.” Young would also like to see more so-called “granny flats” integrated into neighborhoods.

    When asked about Valero’s proposed crude-by-rail project, which would have created an oil off-loading site in Benicia, Young said he opposed it. He said he spent over three years on the Planning Commission going over every aspect of the project, including letters and documents from both supporters and opponents. In the end he felt the risks outweighed the benefits and he was part of a unanimous vote to reject the idea, he said.

    The large Seeno property site, an area zoned for business that remains undeveloped, is also an issue important to some voters. Young says he’d like to see a mixed-use development there that would help attract larger businesses to the area.

    One problem the site has is no access to water, but he sees the aforementioned Valero wastewater conversion project as possibly providing the resource to the area. He envisions an expanse that would be a combination of industrial, commercial, retail, and residential ventures.

    Young says he looks forward to having the opportunity to apply his experience to the challenges facing Benicia. “Due to my long career in local government,” he said, “I have been exposed to a number of creative and inspirational people and organizations who have, through trial and error, understood what does and does not work well in terms of approaches to local governance.”


      VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD: Benicia candidate Tom Campbell says democracy still works at the local level

      Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald

      Benicia candidate Tom Campbell says democracy still works at the local level

      By Katy St. Clair, 10/31/16, 6:54 PM PDT
      Tom Campbell
      Tom Campbell

      Tom Campbell is running for his 4th term on the Benicia City Council on which he’s served since 2001.

      A Central California native with a orthodontic practice in town, Campbell has called Benicia home for nearly 20 years.

      In addition to the City Council, he also serves on the Valero Citizens Advisory Committee, the Sky Valley Area Open Span, and the Soltrans Joint Powers Authority.

      He holds a D.D.S. from UCLA as well as degrees in chemistry, law and business, he said.

      “My favorite thing about Benicia is it’s a safe place with good schools,” he said in an email.

      Campbell also cited what a great town Benicia is for kids and families, especially its local sports, the farmer’s market, and various downtown events.

      “Benicia has a good quality of life,” he said. “In the over 20 years that I’ve been involved in various public offices, I hopefully helped a little to make it possible.”

      Campbell points to the city’s budget as a major accomplishment during his tenure on the council.

      During that time, the city’s had quarterly updates, 5-year projections, a 20 percent reserve requirement, and more disciplined budget policies, he said. These changes have created a 30 percent reserve, he says, and $4.4 million annually from Measure C, all of which will contribute to infrastructure like city roads.

      “Benicia had none of this when I started in 2001,” he said.

      The biggest issue facing Benicia in the future, he said, is water.

      Relying on agreements with the State Water Project state are tenuous, since water officials can refuse to actually provide the expected water, he said.

      “A water recycling plant would be a next logical step,” he offered, “but it is extremely expensive to construct and operate.”

      Campbell said he hopes to spur a continued effort to conserve water in Benicia.

      “At 39 percent conservation, we’re almost the best in the state, and this appears to be holding,” he said.

      He also hopes to keep negotiating deals with agencies and cities with excess water.

      Another of Campbell’s concerns revolves around attracting and retaining business in town, to which he says he takes a three-tiered approach.

      “We need to improve our basic infrastructure, market our strategic location, and we’ve done some low-income infill projects that have been accepted by their neighbors, as well as incentive programs with accessory units. This is the direction in which we should continue,” he said.

      Campbell opposed Valero’s crude-by-rail project, which would have created an oil off-loading site in Benicia.

      “My graduate degree was in chemistry, so I’m familiar with the chemicals in the tank cars and their volatility,” he said. “Even though Valero’s employees are well-trained, the margin of error was just too small and the risk of catastrophic failure too great.”

      Another environmental issue facing Benicia is what to do with the Seeno Property, a large swath of land that has been zoned as a business park.

      “You don’t put 900 homes next to an active industrial park with a refinery a quarter-mile from the houses,” he said.

      Something like a “hi-tech campus style park” would be a better fit, he said.

      Benicia’s historic character is one of its main assets, and Campbell says he shares a pride it that as a long-time Benicia Historical Society member.

      “I have a good idea of our historical assets,” he said. “We need to protect them through the Mills Act and give national landmark status for places such as the Von Pfister Adobe, where California’s first gold was announced,” he said.

      Sharing what he calls his philosophy for local governance, Campbell said he thinks American democracy still works at the local level.

      “That’s why I developed policies like open government and campaign finance ordinances, among others,” he said. “Residents have a right to as much access and knowledge about their public officials as possible.”