By Terry Scott, 2022 candidate for City Council, October 28, 2022
I saw this flyer and the first thing I thought was: here we go again. Valero and it’s PAC dumping huge amounts of money to support the same preferred candidates they effectively supported for City Council in 2018. Why would they do that? Why would they want their preferred candidates to be re-elected. Why create a misleading mailer under a new PAC NAME.
We know why.
Valero PAC has every legal right to support whomever they want with or without the candidates permission.
Is it legal, yes as noted.
Is it moral, no it’s not fair.
I had hoped Valero would have
Let Benicians elect Benicians without outside influence and money.
We gave no permission for them to use our photos in this obvious attempt to confuse voters about whom we support.
By Benicia Mayor Steve Young, October 28, 2022
A recent glossy mailer from the Valero PAC sent in support of Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada could not be more deceptive. It implies that all the members of the Council (who are pictured in the flyer) are supportive of their re-election. The fact is that NONE of the current Council (other than themselves) are supporting them.
Vice Mayor Campbell and I are supporting and endorsing Terry Scott and Kari Birdseye for the two open Council seats, and Trevor Macenski has been neutral. We gave no permission for them to use our photos in this obvious attempt to confuse voters about whom we support.
In 2018, the Valero funded PAC successfully defeated Kari Birdseye and helped elect Largaespada and Strawbridge with a toxic negative campaign against her. In 2020, a similar negative campaign was launched against me in my race against Ms. Strawbridge, but Benicia voters saw through the negative ads and I was elected Mayor.
So far, the flyers sent by the PAC do not target a specific candidate, however they are untruthful and full of misinformation. The flyers themselves are expensive to produce and mail, and this type of spending demonstrates everything that is wrong with this type of PAC’s involvement in small-town elections: unlimited funding; no oversight of truths, exaggerations or lies; and a win-at-all costs mentality.
Terry Scott and Kari Birdseye cannot compete with the Valero PAC’s budget of more than $200.000. The only way they can fight back is through social media, volunteers walking precincts, and word of mouth. If you are supportive of Kari and Terry, please share this and related messaging with as many Benicia voters as you can.
Let’s send Valero another loud and clear message that our community rejects their effort to manipulate our election by electing Terry Scott and Kari Birdseye to the City Council. Perhaps they will finally learn, once and for all, that our City Council cannot be bought.
Enough. Let Benicia voters decide Benicia elections.
Measure R … the most direct way to assure our roads will finally be fixed
Guest Editorial by Mayor Steve Young, October 7, 2022
Measure R is the Benicia Local Road Repair & Infrastructure Measure! This measure is a local initiative that will provide the necessary funding to fix, and then maintain, our roads. The Benicia City Council has placed this measure on the ballot in the hopes that voters will approve of the most direct way to assure our roads will finally be fixed.
Measure R would increase the sales tax on certain purchases made in Benicia by 3/4 of 1 cent. This means if you spend $100, Measure R would cost you an additional 75 cents. Sales taxes apply to certain retail purchases, but does not include food and medicine purchased in grocery stores. Additionally, the use of a sales tax is a way to lesson the burden on Benicia residents since a significant portion of the proceeds of the sales tax is paid by tourists and others coming from out of town to enjoy our great restaurants, charm and ambience.
If Measure R passes, our sales tax rate will be 9.125%. That would still be less than several of our neighboring cities including Concord, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Richmond, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Berkeley, Oakland and more. No one wants to pay more taxes, but if we are ever going to get ahead of our deteriorating road conditions, this is the most direct way to do so. If we fail to pass this measure, our roads will continue to get worse.
So why do we need Measure R? Its clear to most that our roads conditions are poor, to put it kindly. Independent engineering studies have noted that our roads conditions have a score (PCI) of 57 which is deemed “at risk”. Further, 42% of our roads are considered “poor or failed” and we have some of the worst roads in the region. The report also noted that in order to fix our roads to an acceptable standard (70 PCI) we need to invest nearly $6 million each year for the next ten years.
If passed, Measure R would generate approximately $5 million/year. Currently the City only receives about $1.1 million/yr from the State Gas Tax and other sources to invest in our roads. If Measure R passes, it would generate over $50 million over the next ten years, which is what we need to bring our PCI to a score of 70. Additionally, it would generate all the money we would need to continue to maintain our roads going forward.
While this measure is titled The Benicia Local Road Repair and Infrastructure Measure, it is a general tax which, theoretically, could be redirected by a future Council to non-road and storm drain repairs. For those who distrust this Council to keep our word on the use of these funds, voters should consider how the City has kept its word on the use of Measure C funds. Measure C, “The Benicia Quality of Life Measure”, was passed by voters in 2014 . As the title of the measure suggests, the purpose of Measure C was to support existing City services. The City has used Measure C Funds to invest in a variety of projects including public safety, City facilities, parks, the library, and roads. In fact, 33% of all Measure C funds ($15 million) has been invested in roads and infrastructure. Yet that amount is not nearly enough to fix our roads.
Bottom line is that the City needs to find a way to address the long standing priority of repairing our roads, and it is not realistic to think we can cut our $50 million budget by 10% every year for the next ten years without stripping away some programs that the community has come to rely upon.
To help ensure that this Council and future City Councils stays on course with investing in our roads, spending from Measure R would have strict oversight provided by our Economic Development Board, including our City Treasurer.
In the end, voters should realize this is the best opportunity to deal with our old and failing roads, and for which no other reasonable way exists to fix them.
On behalf of the City Council, I thank you for your trust in supporting this critical investment in our infrastructure. Please join me in voting YES on Measure R.
To learn more about Measure R, please visit BeniciaMeasureR.org.
She is, in my opinion, the single most qualified candidate for Council we have seen in the last dozen years.
By Benicia Mayor Steve Young, October 7, 2022
I want to issue my strongest possible endorsement for Kari Birdseye in her campaign for Benicia City Council. She is, in my opinion, the single most qualified candidate for Council we have seen in the last dozen years.
I got to know Kari in 2014 when we served together on the Planning Commission. Among the most contentious projects we reviewed and acted upon was Valero’s Crude by Rail project which would have changed how the refinery receives crude oil from tanker ships to train cars. We spent more than two years on that project, and listened to dozens of speakers, both for (including current council member Largaespada) and against (many Benicia residents as well as representatives of other governmental entities including California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office, CalTrans, and a variety of environmental organizations).
During this time, Kari was studious, thoughtful, and respectful of all sides before finally voting along with the entire Planning Commission to reject the Valero proposal.
Kari ran for City Council once before, in 2018, when the Valero funded PAC (“Working Families for a Strong Benicia; a coalition of Labor, Industrial Services Companies, Public Safety and Local Leaders Supporting Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada and Opposing Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council”) spent more than $200,000 to defeat her.
These characteristics of independent thought, doing her homework, and respectful listening and consideration of all viewpoints have also marked her role on the Planning Commission, where her colleagues have elected her Chair five times. These are skills needed on the City Council.
She has a long history of service to our community ranging from her leadership in the Matthew Turner PTA and Benicia Stingrays Swim Club, to her appointment to the Benicia Human Services Board before being appointed to the Planning Commission. I appreciate that in our 2022 election, Kari supports measures K and R.
Please join me in voting for Kari Birdseye for City Council.