LETTER SERIES: Karen Martinez Berndt – Move forward with Patterson

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald

Move forward with Patterson

By Karen Martinez Berndt, November 2, 2016

I am voting to re-elect Elizabeth Patterson as the Mayor of Benicia. She exemplifies the many attributes of successful leadership:

• Tenacious — Championing the expressed interests of Benicia residents and others.

• Intelligent — Constantly expanding her horizons for new knowledge, committed to the health, safety, and welfare of all, facilitator to assist others in achieving success, and devoted to acknowledging the contributions of others.

As I have lived in Benicia for the past 20-plus years, I have had the opportunity to welcome many innovative changes resulting from Mayor Patterson’s diligent efforts. There have been and will continue to be many project issues that will impact the wellness of the community. It is imperative to have a mayor who diligently protects the safety and well-being of the community.

Here is a list of projects that I am familiar with, results that have been positively influenced by Mayor Patterson’s leadership and heart — her passion for making a difference.

• Leadership without compromise – The denial of the Proposed Valero crude by rail project.

As I work in the health care sector, I was disconcerted by the city staff’s recommendation to approve the Valero crude by rail project use permit. After reading the draft environmental impact report, I voiced my opposition and continued my efforts for three years. The fact that Mayor Patterson did not support this project regardless of the recommendation was an inspiration for me — her strong voice of reason in opposition to a life-threatening and environmentally unsound project made a difference.

• Listening to the needs of the community — The advocate for the green projects.

Benicia residents are fortunate — there are many recreational areas for a life of leisure. There are two community parks, projects championed by Mayor Patterson, that I enjoy: The Community Park and the Forrest Deaner Native Plants Botanical Garden. Under Mayor Patterson’s leadership, open spaces have been protected — a direct result of her contributions focused on the city’s general plan which provides the policy framework for development in the community.

Regarding urban forestry projects to enhance the beauty of the community, improve air quality, and benefit wildlife, the city staff and the community contribute to the “greening of Benicia” (i.e., the planting and nurturing of public trees) and enjoy celebrating National Arbor Day each year. The city of Benicia was awarded the designation of Tree City USA by managing these two efforts and others that are the core values associated with the Tree City USA Program sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation.

In 2009, Benicia became the first city in Solano County to develop a Climate Action Plan. The city has moved forward with the implementation of multiple projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Energy Project — a partnership with OpTerra Energy Services — provides for solar power systems (i.e., renewable/clean energy) in conjunction with energy efficiency upgrades. As a result of the Marin Clean Energy Program, a community choice energy program, the residents of Benicia have the option of using clean energy (i.e., solar and wind sources) to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These two renewable energy projects are illustrative of the sustainable solutions being implemented by the city as an active participant in the Beacon Climate, Energy, and Sustainability Action Program sponsored by the Institute for Local Government and the Statewide Energy Efficiency Collaborative. The success of these projects has been acknowledged — the city is the recipient of multiple Beacon awards.

There is much more work to be done — clean and reliable water supply, wastewater systems improvements, clean air, cap/limit refinery air emissions, air monitoring systems, etc. I am asking you to continue the “forward thinking” progress to ensure that the city of Benicia thrives. Please vote to re-elect Mayor Elizabeth Patterson.

— Karen Martinez Berndt/Benicia