LETTER SERIES: Karen Martinez Berndt – Move forward with Patterson

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald

Move forward with Patterson

By Karen Martinez Berndt, November 2, 2016

I am voting to re-elect Elizabeth Patterson as the Mayor of Benicia. She exemplifies the many attributes of successful leadership:

• Tenacious — Championing the expressed interests of Benicia residents and others.

• Intelligent — Constantly expanding her horizons for new knowledge, committed to the health, safety, and welfare of all, facilitator to assist others in achieving success, and devoted to acknowledging the contributions of others.

As I have lived in Benicia for the past 20-plus years, I have had the opportunity to welcome many innovative changes resulting from Mayor Patterson’s diligent efforts. There have been and will continue to be many project issues that will impact the wellness of the community. It is imperative to have a mayor who diligently protects the safety and well-being of the community.

Here is a list of projects that I am familiar with, results that have been positively influenced by Mayor Patterson’s leadership and heart — her passion for making a difference.

• Leadership without compromise – The denial of the Proposed Valero crude by rail project.

As I work in the health care sector, I was disconcerted by the city staff’s recommendation to approve the Valero crude by rail project use permit. After reading the draft environmental impact report, I voiced my opposition and continued my efforts for three years. The fact that Mayor Patterson did not support this project regardless of the recommendation was an inspiration for me — her strong voice of reason in opposition to a life-threatening and environmentally unsound project made a difference.

• Listening to the needs of the community — The advocate for the green projects.

Benicia residents are fortunate — there are many recreational areas for a life of leisure. There are two community parks, projects championed by Mayor Patterson, that I enjoy: The Community Park and the Forrest Deaner Native Plants Botanical Garden. Under Mayor Patterson’s leadership, open spaces have been protected — a direct result of her contributions focused on the city’s general plan which provides the policy framework for development in the community.

Regarding urban forestry projects to enhance the beauty of the community, improve air quality, and benefit wildlife, the city staff and the community contribute to the “greening of Benicia” (i.e., the planting and nurturing of public trees) and enjoy celebrating National Arbor Day each year. The city of Benicia was awarded the designation of Tree City USA by managing these two efforts and others that are the core values associated with the Tree City USA Program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation.

In 2009, Benicia became the first city in Solano County to develop a Climate Action Plan. The city has moved forward with the implementation of multiple projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Energy Project — a partnership with OpTerra Energy Services — provides for solar power systems (i.e., renewable/clean energy) in conjunction with energy efficiency upgrades. As a result of the Marin Clean Energy Program, a community choice energy program, the residents of Benicia have the option of using clean energy (i.e., solar and wind sources) to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These two renewable energy projects are illustrative of the sustainable solutions being implemented by the city as an active participant in the Beacon Climate, Energy, and Sustainability Action Program sponsored by the Institute for Local Government and the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative. The success of these projects has been acknowledged — the city is the recipient of multiple Beacon awards.

There is much more work to be done — clean and reliable water supply, wastewater systems improvements, clean air, cap/limit refinery air emissions, air monitoring systems, etc. I am asking you to continue the “forward thinking” progress to ensure that the city of Benicia thrives. Please vote to re-elect Mayor Elizabeth Patterson.

— Karen Martinez Berndt/Benicia

    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.”