It’s all new to me. I have ALWAYS waited, and cast my ballot at the polling place on election day, but not this year.
Candidates for public office have had to change tactics. I should know – I’ve been involved in 7 local campaigns over the last 13 years. We used to send out mailers and knock on doors in October, and there was always a big Get Out the Vote push on Monday before the election. It all has to be done much earlier now. And most of us will have already voted by early-, mid- or late-October this year.
So we are making up our minds now. It’s not hard at all for most of us to know who would make the better President: Joe Biden, of course. But who will we elect as the next Benicia Mayor? Who for City Council? And what about those pesky ballot measures?
Benicia Mayor: Steve Young. I support Steve for his careful analysis of facts and his grounding in city administration. Benicia will forever owe Steve a debt of gratitude for his intense and persuasive questioning of Valero and City staff during the long fight against Valero’s dirty and dangerous “Crude by Rail” proposal. The entire Planning Commission and City Council deserve praise, but it was Steve whose star shined most brightly during those pivotal times. By the way, those who know me are aware of my bias in favor of women candidates. I’m a longtime male feminist, and usually I will lean left and go with a woman candidate. But in this year’s race, with Mayor Patterson choosing not to run, I have to go with Steve Young. More about Steve Young, or Donate and Volunteer.
Benicia City Council: Terry Scott. I support Terry for his vision and values, and for his leadership as Chair of Benicia’s Arts and Culture Commission. More about Terry Scott, or Donate and Volunteer.
Benicia Councilmember Steve Young files for mayor candidacy
BENICIA – Thur., City Councilman Steve Young filed to run in the Nov. 3 race for Benicia Mayor.
“I am happy to announce that I have submitted the signatures required to secure my place on the ballot for Mayor of Benicia,” said Young.
As a Community Development Director, as a Planning Commissioner and as a City Councilmember for Benicia, Young has built a foundation in public service.
“I’m proud to be the voice that listens to the local voter in Benicia, the person who works for a living, who cares for their family, or who is retired,” said Young. “These residents of Benicia want the best public education for their kids, a safe neighborhood, and a walkable downtown with access to our wonderful parks and waterfront. These are the people that I hope to represent, not out of town special interest groups.”
When it came time to collect signatures for the petition for his nomination papers, Young did not seek out specific voters or representatives from large organizations – he took a different approach.
“In the time-honored tradition of using our public spaces for public endeavors and announcements, I stood by the City Park Gazebo and invited the public to sign my petition and be part of my campaign,” said Young. “I cannot tell you how proud and honored I am to be able to submit my election petition and to commit my time and energy to representing the voters of Benicia.”
Steve Young wants to continue his commitment to the residents of Benicia, his commitment to transparency, and to continue to listen and work for them.
“I ask for your vote on or before Nov. 3, 2020,” said Young.
Residents can learn more about his platform, read about his views on current City issues, and volunteer to help by going to www.steveyoungformayor.org.
[Editor: Attend City Council on May 7 if at all possible. This is an issue of fairness and could affect Benicia’s economic viability and reputation. If you can’t attend, check out How to write to Council and staff. – R.S.]
By Steve Young, Benicia City Council member
On May 7, the City Council will consider a proposal by Councilman Largaespada to expand the buffer zones around cannabis dispensaries. The proposed changes would, if adopted, add buffer zones around any day care center (or places where kids congregate), park, or any residential zone. If adopted by the Council, the practical effect would be to eliminate virtually all retail locations in the City.
Cannabis issues have been on the ballot twice recently. In 2016, Benicians voted 63% in favor of Prop. 64 which legalized personal use of cannabis by adults. In 2018, Benicians voted 68% in favor of letting the Council impose excise taxes on cannabis businesses (which we did last December). The current rules, adopted by the previous Council after more than 18 hearings and dozens of hours of testimony, limited cannabis dispensaries to just a few commercial areas in the City. The Council eliminated First Street and all of downtown, as well as all of the Southhampton shopping center. We also limited the number of dispensaries to just two.
When we finally opened up the application process last fall, we had 9 applicants for these two possible permits. Applicants were required to pay the City $20,000 each for processing their application, including for a Public Safety License to be issued by the Police Department after significant vetting of the applicants. In addition, the applicants were required to show some form of site control. This required them to rent or lease, or obtain an option to lease, commercial space at significant costs while waiting for the City to finally recommend which applicants were recommended to move forward to the Planning Commission to apply for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). (Some applicants have reported absorbing over $100,000 in costs each.)
In my opinion, regardless of how you feel about cannabis, it is fundamentally unfair to treat these businesses in this manner. They have followed all the rules set forth by the City in August, paid substantial fees to the City and even more to rent vacant space, and have waited over 9 months for the City to act on their applications. It is simply not fair or equitable, at this late date, to have the City change the rules in the middle of the game.
If you are interested in this topic, please attend the Council meeting on May 7 or let the Council know about your opinions.
Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald [BenIndy Editor: I believe that no current Benicia City Council candidate was involved in nor favors push polls. But the reason for Valero to smear one candidate and lift another is clear. Valero can’t be unaware that Mr. Largaespada stood firm with Valero and against the will of the people during the controversial Crude by Rail debate in 2014-16. Planning Commissioner Kari Birdseye voted with the unanimous decision to stop Valero “in its tracks.” Valero has every reason – and every right – to openly and fairly voice its preference. But to secretly fund dirty tricks to achieve its goal is a tactic that should be soundly criticized by all candidates. I’ll vote for Birdseye, and hope that our next Council will include 3 women for the first time ever. – RS]
Campbell sought tougher response to push poll incident
By John Glidden, October 8, 2018 at 5:51 pm
BENICIA — Days after the Benicia City Council met in closed session directing City Attorney Heather Mc Laughlin to seek answers about a controversial polling incident, speculation swirled on which councilor voted against the move.
Councilman Tom Campbell confirmed he was the lone “no” vote in the Oct. 2 closed session decision.
“I wanted a stronger response than the rest of the council members wanted,” Campbell explained in an email to the Times-Herald.
The City Council authorized Mc Laughlin to contact Research America and EMC Research about their respective roles in a series of phone calls made to residents in September. Research America conducted the polling, which included questions about the city’s current council candidates.
The polling firm said EMC hired them, and just last week, Mc Laughlin confirmed that the Valero Benicia Refinery sponsored the entire polling.
Vice Mayor Steve Young, and other residents, have stated they received one of the survey calls which allegedly smeared council candidate Kari Birdseye while championing fellow council candidate Lionel Largaespada. Young called the survey a “push poll,” a type of survey meant to influence voters instead of gathering objective survey information from those called.
Councilors expressed concern that since the survey calls didn’t provide a “paid for by” disclaimer at the end of the phone calls the survey may have violated the city’s municipal code. A claim the polling firms have denied through their lawyer.
Campbell, who led the charge for the present campaigning ordinance in the municipal code, said he wanted immediate action in response to the poll.
“What I wanted was that the council authorize the city attorney to immediately go to Superior Court, file an injunction/lawsuit against the pollster and subpoena the records from EMC on who paid for it, how much, and what the exact questions were,” Campbell wrote in the same email. “The council took a little softer line than I wanted. I felt we had to act now to obtain the information as quickly as possible before the Nov. election.”
Largaespada issued a statement on Sunday in response to the news that Valero paid for the polling.
“I was very disappointed to learn that Valero sponsored the recent polling in Benicia,” he wrote in an email to this newspaper. “As I previously stated, I was not involved in any way with this polling effort, and I did not know who was conducting it.
“As I also stated, push polling, or any misrepresentation of a candidate’s stance or ideals is not something that I support in any way,” he added. “I hope that Valero will provide the content of the poll so that this issue can be resolved.”
Largaespada, who has expressed support in the past for the “crude by rail” initiative, also defended himself from comments made online by residents.
“To the commenters on Nextdoor that have suggested that I am in favor of this type of tactic, or that I am a ‘tool’ or ‘mouthpiece’ for Valero — these comments are completely false and without merit,” he wrote. “I understand that issues involving Valero are polarizing in our community, but to say that because someone believes differently than you do about an issue makes them a ‘tool’ for an entity is nothing more than name-calling.”
Mc Laughlin was also tasked by the council to obtaining a copy of the poll questions. In a letter she sent Research America, and EMC, last Friday, she gave them 72 hours to send a copy of the questions to her office.
Mc Laughlin said she didn’t have a copy of the poll questions as of Monday afternoon and was told she would get a response to her request on Wednesday.