LETTER SERIES: Marilyn Bardet – Vote for Elizabeth and Steve!

[Editor: Benicians are expressing themselves in letters to the editor of our local print newspaper, the Benicia Herald. But the Herald doesn’t publish letters in its online editions – and many Benician’s don’t subscribe. We are posting certain letters here for wider distribution. – RS]

Vote for Elizabeth and Steve!

By Marilyn Bardet
November 3, 2016
Marilyn Bardet
Marilyn Bardet

If you haven’t already voted, I hope you’ll join me on Oct. 8th to help re-elect Elizabeth Patterson for mayor.

I’m especially appreciative of Elizabeth’s ethical, open approach to governance and her tireless efforts to champion the Benicia General Plan’s forward-looking vision for community sustainability.

I know that Elizabeth is motivated to serve from a deeply rooted, life-long conviction that’s been proven true: that acting on what’s possible to do, each one of us can make a difference to create a more livable, thriving, healthy community and environment. Proof: the public’s eager participation in creating the Climate Action Plan adopted under her mayorship.

As mayor, Elizabeth has squarely faced development proposals. Discussing the Crude-by-Rail Project and those formerly posed by Seeno, she has reminded us how such challenges illumine, by contrast, our shared values for sustainability and the interconnectedness of economic, social and environmental goals that must play into any responsible development decision.

Concerned about climate change, Elizabeth will continue to ensure that the General Plan’s goals and policies and the recommendations of our Climate Action Plan – each expressive of community ideals and values – will guide planning to help us adapt and reduce our carbon footprint.

Regarding Elizabeth’s lasting contributions to our city, I can say that I know Elizabeth’s leadership style very well. In 1995, Elizabeth was tasked as a professional planner to guide and facilitate meetings of a 17-member council-appointed “General Plan Oversight Committee” (GPOC), on which I served, to draft from scratch a brand new general plan, the one we have today. For over three years under her direction, following a consensus approach for arriving at agreement, the committee carved and poured over details, line by line, for accurate wording. Tiring as it could be, every decision involved a wide spectrum of community and business interests and very often competing opinions that had to be reckoned.

By Elizabeth’s able guidance – through serious, often contentious give-and-take collaboration – GPOC successfully produced a praiseworthy document, adopted in 1999, as our city’s living constitution. (Really? a refinery town with sustainability as its planning goal? Astonishing at that time!) It was Elizabeth’s calm, fair and objective approach that created trust and brought a very diverse group together, so that by the end each of us had “skin in the game” and could have reason and pride to be invested in the plan’s highest aims.

From those early days, Elizabeth has kept our faith that open, collaborative engagement by government with the public is not only possible, but remains the healthiest way to enact democracy for the betterment of all.

In a time of shrinking resources, Elizabeth doesn’t waffle in her sense of moral responsibility. Whether advocating for safe, attractive streets with bike lanes, or for a green, clean-tech development of the Seeno property to diversify our local economy, she doesn’t sit back, but expresses enthusiasm for such initiatives, bringing the latest research and evidence to bear on decision-making.

It’s very rare to have the kind of leadership Elizabeth provides. After over 20 years in reviewing controversial development proposals and environmental cleanups, I know what that privilege is worth. Whenever we devolve into pettiness, I believe we must keep Elizabeth’s inspiration for contributing to the public good. For all these reasons, I hope you’ll join me in my support of her re-election.

In concluding, I’m also casting my vote for Steve Young for council. As a planning commissioner, Steve has clearly demonstrated his commitment to principled development in his questioning of crude-by-rail. From his years of professional experience with city governments, he will lend new energy and insight to council with a fresh voice.

Here’s to the next four years with high hopes for Benicia! Please vote for Elizabeth and Steve!