Excellent media coverage of Benicia Protest – and video of the event

Benicia residents gather in City Park, hold up signs on sidewalks to protest Valero meddling in local elections

By Roger Straw, November 4, 2022

Roger Straw, The Benicia Independent

Media coverage of this quickly planned protest was excellent. Even better is the video summary by local videographer Constance Beutel. I’ll post links to them all below.

Personal comment: as a longtime Benicia watchdog activist, I am impressed with the new leadership arising in town. They organized this rally in no time, with a turnout of around 75 and better media coverage than any event I can remember over the last 15 years! Kudos!

Video Coverage by Constance Beutel

Valero makes late entry into Benicia City Council race

Vallejo Sun, by Scott Morris, Nov 03, 2022

Texas-based oil manufacturer Valero is making a last-minute push to re-elect incumbent councilmembers Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada.
Benicians held a rally against oil manufacturer Valero’s influence in city politics on Wednesday, co-organized by Stephen Golub, seen speaking. Photo courtesy Kathy Kerridge.

BENICIA – Texas-based oil manufacturer Valero is making a last-minute push to re-elect incumbent councilmembers Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada to the Benicia City Council, spending thousands of dollars on mailers and social media ads.

According to expenditure reports filed with the city of Benicia on Wednesday, Valero had spent $89,507.71 supporting the two candidates as of Monday. That included $38,096.43 with Los Alamos-based Trusted Messenger Marketing on mailers and social media ads. That firm spent $10,000 on Facebook ads. Valero also spent $35,000 with Columbus, Ohio, polling firm EMC Research Inc.

Benicians protest Valero’s campaign tactics

The Benicia Herald, November 4, 2022

Protesters gather at City Park on Wes. to protest the recent election flyers maiiled by a Valero-sponsored PAC, called Progress for Benicia.
[BenIndy Editor: Sorry the Benicia Herald doesn’t publish online. The editor, Galen Kusic, had a great page 1 story, photocopy available here.]

Vallejo Times-Herald: Benicia residents protest Valero’s role in local elections

Residents fed-up with the energy corporation’s slanted advertising campaigns, calling them deceitful, shameful, and confusing.
[BenIndy Editor: This front page above-the-fold Vallejo Times-Herald story is excellent, great photos and quotes. However, there are a few errors in the article.  >> Valero has spent $519K over the last 3 election cycles, not $678K. In our 2022 election, the Valero PAC has reported so far funneling $89K of its $232,000 into the effort to buy Benicia council seats, not the total. We won’t know how much more until required post-election reporting. – RS]
Nikki Basch-Davis, left, talks with Susan Street as dozens of Benicians took to the streets on Wednesday to speak out against the influence of the Valero Benicia Refinery in the local 2022 election. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)
Vallejo Times-Herald, By Troy Sambajon, November 3, 2022
[Also carried by East Bay Times and  SiliconValley.com]

It’s the small town versus big business fighting over the voice of local democracy.

Concerned Benicians gathered at City Park on Wednesday afternoon to protest the Valero corporations’ role in local city council and mayoral elections. […continued…]

Residents Rally Against ‘Deceptive Campaigning’ By Valero In Nov. 8 Election

SFGate, by Katy St. Clair Bay City News Foundation,  Nov. 2, 2022

Dozens gathered at Benicia’s town center on Wednesday evening to decry what they are calling “malicious” campaigning by the owners of the town’s refinery, Valero, which they say is trying to influence Tuesday’s election.

Carrying signs that read “Valero: Big Bucks Run Amok” and “Stop Polluting Our Elections,” residents rallied in support of two council candidates not backed by Valero, Terry Scott and Kari Birdseye. They also cried foul about big oil money in small-town races.

“We are not paid lobbyists!” said local refinery pollution watchdog Cathy Bennett at the rally. “We’re not even public figures. We are your neighbors… We know this community. We are this community! A corporate giant in Texas does not know this community!” […continued…]