Important for readers of the Benicia Independent: The deadline to submit your questions to candidates on the Valero PAC’s attempt to buy our Mayor’s seat and other “hit pieces” is close of business (5pm) on Thursday, October 29. Send by email to Benicia’s City Attorney Benjamin Stock, at email@example.com.
City of Benicia announcement on Nextdoor, October 24, 2020
City of Benicia Communications Office of Economic Development, Teri Davena
Candidates’ Forum Scheduled for Saturday, October 31, 10 a.m.
Candidates for the Benicia City Council will have the opportunity to participate in a Candidates’ Forum on Saturday, October 31 at 10 a.m.
All candidates running for Council Member and Mayor in the November 3 election have been invited to attend.
The forum, sponsored by the City of Benicia Open Government Commission, will be broadcasted live on Zoom and on local government Channel 27.
At the forum, voters will have an opportunity to hear candidates discuss any ‘hit pieces’ distributed before the election.
Members of the public are encouraged to send questions relating to ‘hit pieces’ for candidates to answer at the forum to the City Attorney Benjamin Stock, at firstname.lastname@example.org by close of business on Thursday, October 29.
Please note that the candidates’ forum may be canceled by unanimous decision of the candidates.
[Editorial disclaimer: the following letter appeared on several social media sites and was printed in the Benicia Herald on October 11. It is questionable whether it is fair to characterize a candidate by reference to their spouse, but in this case, the complex political connections are relatively clear, and should be aired if not swallowed whole. – R.S.]
By John Ryan, Benicia, Visual Storyteller
October 6, 2020
Recently, allegations and questions arose regarding the conduct of Christina’s husband, Scott Strawbridge, and attempts made to persuade Mr. Jason Diavatis to drop out of his mayoral campaign in an effort to help secure a win for his wife, Christina Strawbridge. Their response to these allegations were vague, misleading & lacking in critical detail.
Who is Scott Strawbridge and why does it matter?
When asked about Benicia’s controversial history with Valero spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in an effort to buy seats on our city council, most of us would likely jump to the 2018 election and their successful campaign to elect Lionel Largaespada & Christina Strawbridge using push polls and negative attack ads.
Most of us understood why Valero would choose to support Lionel given his support of Crude by Rail and his conservative politics.
However, in 2018, many were confused by their inclusion of Ms. Strawbridge, who claimed to have no idea why Valero’s PAC endorsed her. It was a clever strategy that played well with the newer generation of Benicians living here less than ten years. Those of us who have followed local politics longer than a decade knew better. Why? Because Valero and their affiliated labor unions have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to put a Strawbridge on the council. And they started in 2007 with Scott Strawbridge; not Christina. For those of us who remember his campaign, the 2018 election felt like déjà vu.
In 2007, Scott Strawbridge (a retired top labor union negotiator for over 30 years) drew criticism for collecting $64,400 in campaign contributions, 95% of which came from out-of-area labor unions. In fact, Scott only collected $5,400 from local donors which included a $2,500 loan he made to himself. It did not include an additional $83K spent by PAC’s funded by Valero, Seeno & their labor unions.
In spite of spending over 5x the amount of money per vote than his opponent, Tom Campbell, Scott lost the election.
Four years later (with a less aggressive approach due to newly established election ordinances limiting contribution and spending limits), Christina succeeded where her husband failed, and won a city council seat in 2011. When asked about the activity of a PAC conducting push polls in her favor during her campaign, she denied having any knowledge of it. Ironically, it was her own husband’s controversial 2007 campaign that led to the City’s reformative action in local election laws still enforced today that now limit both of Christina Strawbridge’s opponents (Jason Diavatis and Steve Young) to a total campaign cap of $32,000 [correction: $34,200] while she reaps the benefits of a $300,000 Valero funded PAC account through the thin veil of plausible deniability.
This isn’t a new strategy. Scott and Christina have been fighting their way to this year’s mayoral seat for over 13 years. It’s no coincidence that Valero, Seeno, and affiliated outside labor unions have backed a Strawbridge in their combined five runs for elected office by investing over half a million dollars. For Christina to maintain that she still has no idea why is nothing short of an insult to the intelligence of Benicia voters.
Mr. Macenski, please take note. While these words are my own, the extensive research and investigative work behind them, are not. The citations for my sources can be found at the list of links below; because plagiarism is inexcusable and unethical.
Thank you to Mr. Roger Straw (of The Benicia Independent) and Ms. Norma Fox for your diligence and hard work featured via the below links.
Many thanks to the LWV Solano, AAUW and Carquinez Village for hosting this important event!
On October 8, 6-8 pm, the the League of Women Voters Solano County, AAUW, and Carquinez Village sponsored a 2020 Benicia Candidates’ Forum. The forum was recorded and is viewable ONLY on Youtube. [Playback on other websites has been disabled by the video owner.]
Many thanks to Benicia’s Good Neighbor Steering Committee for hosting this important event!
Video by Constance Beutel for the Good Neighbor Steering Committee
The Benicia Good Neighbor Steering Committee wants to thank all the participating Mayoral and City Council candidates and those who attended the Educational Forum on Air Quality and Refinery issues on October 5, 2020.
The Zoom webinar was recorded, and is now available on Youtube (and viewable below). There are several viewing options, including the full video from start to finish, as well as individual candidate videos highlighting each candidate and their responses to the Good Neighbor Steering Committee questions.
[BenIndy editor: Note that each video begins after a 20-second “title screen” followed by an 8 minute introduction by Marilyn Bardet. After watching those sections once, you may want to jump ahead to the first question at 8:00 or the candidate response, beginning around 8:45. – R.S.]