Tag Archives: Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson

Elizabeth Patterson says 3 terms as Benicia mayor enough; will focus on climate change

Patterson says 3 terms as Benicia mayor enough; will focus on climate change

Fairfield Daily Republic, by Todd R. Hansen, July 31, 2020
FAIRFIELD — Elizabeth Patterson will not be running for a fourth term as mayor of Benicia.

Instead, she said she will focus her energies on what she called the “climate catastrophe.” Patterson said she wants to dedicate more time to the issue of climate change.

“We are in the future of climate change,” said Patterson, who was first elected to the City Council in 2003 and started her run as mayor with an election win in 2007.

Elizabeth Patterson

The outgoing mayor also had hoped to go to Michigan to work on the campaign for the Democratic presidential nominee, but is not sure of those plans due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Patterson also hopes to get into the outdoors more.

“There are more trails to hike and places to camp in,” she said.

Her decision not to run means the nomination period for candidates seeking to fill the mayor’s post will be extended to Aug. 12. She said she will be supporting a candidate in the race, but declined to say who that is at this time.

The mayoral candidates who have filed their election papers are current Councilman Steve Young, Christina Strawbridge and Jason Diavatas.

Terry Scott has filed candidacy papers for the City Council, while incumbent Councilman Tom Campbell and potential challenger Trevor Macenski have taken out papers, but had not filed as of Thursday morning. Because of Young’s decision to run for mayor, the nomination period is extended to Aug. 12 for his council seat.

Ken Paulk was expected to file his papers Thursday for re-election as city treasurer. City Clerk Lisa Wolfe has taken out papers.

Dixon Mayor Thom Bogue has not taken out re-election papers as of Thursday morning, either. Attempts to reach Bogue were unsuccessful.

If he chooses not to run, it will mean that there will be at least three new mayors among the seven Solano County cities.

Bob Sampayan

Bob Sampayan dropped his campaign for re-election as mayor in Vallejo, citing health concerns.

While there has been plenty of interest in possible candidates in Vallejo – Councilman Robert McConnell, M. Avonelle Hanley‐Mills and Cornisha Williams‐Bailey each has taken out papers for the mayor’s post – no candidate for any elected seat has actually filed papers as of Thursday morning.

The City Council election, for the first time, is by districts. In a twist, that means those council members who had been elected at-large, are not considered district incumbents.

Councilwoman Rozzana Verder‐Aliga has taken out papers for District 1, as have L. Alexander Matias and Vernon Williams III; Councilman Hermie R. Sunga has taken out papers for District 3, as have Jaci Caruso and Guillermina “Mina” Diaz; and Councilwoman Cristina Arriola and Councilman Jerry Bovee have taken out papers for District 6.

Whether Bogue seeks re-election or not, there are challengers for the mayor’s office in Dixon.

Councilmen Devon Minnema and Steve Bird have filed candidacy papers for mayor. That leaves their District 3 and District 4 council seats vacant. As of Thursday morning, only Kevin Johnson had filed papers to replace Bird in District 3. The nomination period for all offices, as the candidacy picture stands, will be extended to Aug. 12.

There could be yet another mayoral change if any of the challengers can unseat Rio Vista Mayor Ron Kott, who has filed his candidacy papers for a new term. Emily Gollinger also has filed papers. Rick Lynn pulled papers, but as of Thursday morning, had not filed. The nomination period ends Aug. 7.

Solano County Public Health Officer answers questions about increasing number of youth with COVID-19

By Roger Straw, June 2, 2020
Are young people the main carriers for Covid-19?  –  NJ MMA News, photo: Getty Images

On May 27, I asked Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson to ask Solano Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas a number of questions about recent increases in the number of our youth who are showing up positive for COVID-19.  The Mayor passed my questions on to Dr. Matyas that day, and on May 31, he replied with answers to all eight questions – see below.

BACKGROUND: 

Solano County is reporting an upward trend in confirmed cases among young persons 18 and under, adding (as of today) 26 more positive cases over the last 20 days, having reported only 6 over the 5 weeks prior. (Latest update…)

MY QUESTIONS & DR. MATYAS’ ANSWERS…

  1. How serious are these youth cases?   ​
    • The youth cases are mostly asymptomatic, although a few have been mildly symptomatic.
  2. How old – teens or young children?
    • While we have had a few young children, most of the youth are older teenagers.
  3. Any of them hospitalized?
    • None have been hospitalized to date.
  4. Are any of them showing symptoms of the “pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome likely linked to COVID”?  (See Nearly 200 Cases of Severe Child COVID Syndrome…in NY, NJ)
    • ​None so far.
  5. Surely the increase can be partially explained away as a result of more testing, but that doesn’t mean the numbers are any less serious.  Right?
    • The increased numbers are apparently the result of increased testing of asymptomatic household contacts of cases and testing of asymptomatic persons at the recently opened Optum sites in Vallejo and Vacaville; we are likely uncovering a phenomenon that has been present all along.  As to seriousness, the percentage of positive youths we are seeing seems to match statewide and national numbers.  These individuals, while not themselves experiencing serious illness, are nonetheless able to spread the virus to others.
  6. Is the County conducting contact tracing for these youth?
    • Yes, just as for all positive cases.
  7. Does the County have sufficient staffing for contact tracing?
    • So far, yes.
  8. What can the County and cities do to intensify communication with our young people and parents?
    • Presumably, utilizing social media and school-based communication systems.

SO NOW WHAT?

I sincerely hope that parents and youth reading this will take note, and that the County and its cities and school districts will intensify communication about the serious reality of COVID-19 transmission among youth, and from youth to their elders.

See also: “Are young people the main carriers for Covid-19?”   NJ MMA News

Benicia City Council unanimously adopts Climate Emergency Resolution

Benicia Herald, by Galen Kusic, Editor, May 24, 2020 (No link, only available in the print edition.)
Climate Emergency - Greenpeace International
Climate Emergency – Greenpeace International

At the Sept. 3, 2019 Council meeting the City Council agreed to discuss a request from Mayor Elizabeth Patterson considering the adoption of a Climate Emergency Resolution.  The request was discussed again on Feb. 4 at a Special City Council meeting, where a subcommittee was formed consisting of Councilmembers Tom Campbell and Steve Young.

[BENINDY EDITOR’S NOTE: See the proposed resolution here, noting that this does not contain Council’s amendments.  I have requested the amended resolution and will post it when it is released by the City Clerk.  See also the accompanying Staff Report here.]

“The world’s changed since I first brought this forward,” said Patterson.  “Who would have guessed…it is actually very interesting for us to contemplate this kind of situation with a pandemic which has been described as one of the consequences of climate warming.”

Cities are adopting these resolutions to end city-wide greenhouse gas emissions.  The resolution highlights the need to combat climate change, including that Benicia is specifically vulnerable to sea-level rise, storm surge and coastal erosion, which are all enhanced by extreme weather events that cause increased flooding.

The resolution declares that an existential climate emergency threatens Benicia, the region, state, nation, civilization, humanity and the natural world.  The resolution calls for a city-wide mobilization effort to reverse global warming and appropriate financial and regulatory assistance from Solano County, state and federal authorities to end city-wide greenhouse gas emissions while safely drawing down carbon from the atmosphere quickly.

“I think we saw this as more of a global aspirational document,” said Young.  “The only thing we wanted to change in it was to localize it to some degree.”

The subcommittee added a clause at the end for the city to promote a more sustainable future, like eventually moving to an all-electric fleet.

Vice Mayor Christina Strawbridge and Councilmember Lionel Largaespada both asked for small amendments to the resolution, including not making undue burdens on businesses to attain reduction of greenhouse gas, while implementing policies that are economically feasible.

The resolution is designed to protect the community’s health and safety while also protecting and enhancing the environment.

A resident’s public comment stated that the council should not be focusing on climate change during a pandemic, but Patterson shot back that the pandemic is exactly why immediate action needs to be taken toward combating the climate emergency.

“We now from the early science of COVID-19 that one of the principle challenges for recovery and surviving an infection, particularly in older people, is the air quality,” she said.  “We know there’s a direct link to our goal to reduce carbon which contributes to air quality.”

The council unanimously voted for the resolution.

VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD: Valero’s crude-by-rail project turned down in Benicia

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald

Valero’s crude-by-rail project turned down in Benicia

By Matthew Adkins, 09/20/16, 9:54 PM PDT
Anti-Valero supporters wave sunflowers as Benicia’s crude by rail project was denied Tuesday evening by council members in Benicia City Hall.
Anti-Valero supporters wave sunflowers as Benicia’s crude by rail project was denied Tuesday evening by council members in Benicia City Hall. Matthew Adkins — Times-Herald

BENICIA >> Environmentalists hoping to defeat Benicia’s crude-by-rail project scored a huge victory Tuesday night, handing Valero Refining Company a significant defeat in the process.

In a unanimous decision from Mayor Elizabeth Patterson and Benicia City Council, Valero’s application for a conditional use permit for a crude oil off-loading facility was denied.

Vicki Dennis, who moved to Benicia two years ago, was one of many present at City Hall and said she was “just delighted” with the decision.

“I’m so proud of this city,” Dennis said. “Our council people are very thoughtful. This process has been a long one, but I think they handled it in a wonderful way.”

The City of Benicia’s Planning Commission first began considering the issue in December 2012 when the refinery submitted an application seeking permission to build infrastructure to bring two 50-car trains a day carrying up to 70,000 barrels of North American crude oil into Benicia.

In March, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny the application and to not certify an accompanying environmental impact report. The decision was made against the recommendation of city staff who said the project’s involvement with rail-related issues made the decision a federal issue.

Valero representatives submitted an appeal looking to reverse the commission’s decision to deny their application, and the matter was postponed until Sept. 20.

As part of the appeal, Valero sought a declaratory order from the Surface Transportation Board on the issue of federal preemption in regards to the project.

During this time, many governmental agencies, private organizations and individuals publicly opposed the city council’s decision to transfer authority on the matter to the federal government.

At the city council meeting Tuesday, however, public comment on the topic was officially closed.

“We are eager to hear from you about any item that is not on the agenda,” Patterson said. “I know it’s a little difficult right now. We have an item on the agenda that I know a lot of you are interested in, but there is no public comment on that tonight.”

This drew a few hushed laughs from the crowd of approximately 150 people who had shown up to witness the landmark decision at Benicia City Hall.

Mayor Patterson’s warning didn’t stop a few concerned citizens from indirectly talking about the issue.

“I originally put in my request to speak before I knew you were not accepting public comments about Valero,” said one man. “If the council decides to change their mind and re-open public comment on the issue, I would be glad to come back up and speak.”

“Since I can’t talk about what the Surface Transportation Board has just done, I would urge the council to support the struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline,” said another man.

After public comment was closed, a brief recap of the project’s journey though Benicia’s civic system was put forth along with two resolution findings, one for approval and the other for denial,

The denial resolution highlighted specific issues that city council members had with Valero’s proposed project, including the unclear traffic impacts of having an unregulated shipment schedule, spill risks associated with shipping by rail and the project’s uncomfortable proximity to the city’s waterways.

Before making a judgement, Council members took turns voicing their concerns about health, safety and the project’s effect on the environment.

“When we first started considering this, there seemed to be little risk involved,” said Councilwoman Christina Strawbridge. “After four years, the community has endured numerous public hearings with hundreds of people speaking about the project. During this time, there have been 13 derailments around the country involving multiple carriers.

“The derailment in Oregon was a game-changer for me,” she continued. “Union Pacific was the same carrier and the railroad cars involved were the same ones Valero is offering. The strongest car didn’t withstand a puncture and crude oil came in contact with fire and burned for 13 hours. Union Pacific failed to maintain its track, resulting in its derailment. The railroad industry has not kept up with safety standards regarding the transportation of crude. I’m going to vote to deny the project in hopes that the community can begin to heal after such a divided process.”

After the council’s comments, Councilmember Tom Campbell put forward a motion to deny, and was seconded by Patterson.

A quick vote was taken and the motion to deny Valero’s presence in Benicia was decided.

Misao Brown, a retired teacher and environmental activist from Alameda, was thrilled with the council’s decision and was seen embracing her friends outside of Benicia City Hall.

“If there were any spills where we are in Benicia, it would be in the Bay and go all over the place,” she said. “Benicia is concerned about the greater good and it’s just wonderful. It was really hard sticking it out for so long, but they gave every chance to Valero. In the end, we’re really talking about life on earth. So, when the decision comes through like this under tremendous pressure, I’m really grateful to every member of the planning commission and city council.”