Benicia Independent enters a new phase… crucial Benicia elections

By Roger Straw, October 21, 2016

Benicia Independent enters a new phase…

stopped-steve-and-elizabeth-800Following our astounding victory over Valero’s oil train proposal this fall …

…following this grand conclusion to our 3½ year volunteer-led effort to defeat Valero’s plan … I was exhausted.

The Benicia Independent – a one-person operation – will be entering an entirely new phase, starting today. I will be on a “sabattical leave” from oil train news for at least the next 3 months, maybe a year.

The Benicia Independent was born in 2007, an act of necessity when many felt that our local print newspaper was not representing candidates for Mayor impartially and fired its editor. The Independent came to life again in 2008-9 to oppose the Seeno development proposal and promote a Green Gateway alternative for Benicia’s last large privately-owned open space. After a period of dormancy, the Independent wakened again for the 2011 elections in Benicia, and again after a period of hibernation, re-invented itself in January, 2014 as “Crude by Rail in the News.”

So … the Benicia Independent has evolved as a single-issue blog on a series of emerging issues of local significance.

Right now, the most important local news to cover is our elections for Mayor and City Council.

There is a CLEAR CONNECTION between our last 3 years of David and Goliath struggle to stop oil trains and the 2016 elections. It is critical that we elect two city officials who gave great leadership in stopping Valero’s proposal: Mayor Elizabeth Patterson and Planning Commissioner Steve Young. The Benicia Independent endorses them both, and will post articles to support their candidacy for the remaining weeks of this election.

>> Mayor Elizabeth Patterson is a long-time environmental scientist and Democrat, with progressive views and a strong record of local and statewide accomplishments. She is being challenged by sitting Councilmember Mark Hughes, a retired PG&E executive and Republican, who is business and development friendly, does not wholeheartedly embrace the science behind climate change, and has voted in support of the Seeno proposal. Hughes’ candidacy is supported by outside PACs, and Mayor Patterson’s election is not at all guaranteed. This is a MUST WIN! More at

>> Planning Commissioner Steve Young was incredibly insightful and persistent when, after 3 years of study and hearings and thousands of pages of environmental review, City staff finally allowed Commissioners to raise questions. Steve was not bullied by 3 years of staff, paid consultants and Valero executives favoring the project. He asked hard and penetrating questions for over 3 hours that night, and helped the Planning Commission come to a unanimous vote to deny oil trains in Benicia – a victory for Benicians, communities uprail from here, and for the planet. Steve is running against 4 other candidates for a seat on City Council. It is important that we defeat Republican media consultant Lionel Largaespada. Steve Young deserves our vote, and he’s definitely got mine.  More at