LETTER SERIES: Roger Straw – Mark Hughes’ voting record

[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]

Mark Hughes’ voting record – an important factor for voters

By Roger Straw
October 27, 2016
Roger Straw, Editor, The Benicia Independent

There has been something of a hue (or should I say Hughes) and cry about my letter comparing the virtues of mayoral candidates Mark Hughes and Elizabeth Patterson.

I certainly meant no disrespect in pointing out that Hughes is a Republican who has not led forthrightly in 2008-2009 battles over the Seeno project and on issues of climate change and air quality here in Benicia. He surely hasn’t (as far as I know) come right out and stated that he doesn’t accept the science of climate change. If I remember right, his comment was something to the effect that there is more to global warming than human causes. Well, of course! But that seems like a politician’s deft avoidance of the issue, sending signals to the climate change deniers, and clearly NOT a position of strong advocacy for measures to limit air pollution and move toward clean and renewable sources of energy.

Hughes has frequently – predictably – sided with those who oppose measures for sustainability in Benicia. In more recent times, he voted against voluntary green building standards. He voted to return $887 thousand of the City’s grant money to Valero for a project that Valero could easily have funded itself. That decision hobbled our Community Sustainability Commission’s ability to continue funding projects such as Benicia Makerspace, community gardens, solar and water conservation grants, etc. And Hughes voted against renewing the contract for our excellent Climate Action Plan Coordinator, Alex Portshawver.

I appreciate that Mark puts out a welcome mat for development on Seeno land in hopes of securing new tax revenues for the City. And it’s great to learn that he’s against 900 homes up there. But without firmly stating opposition to all housing above the Industrial Park we can only conclude that the developer will come back with a “compromise” that could compromise the future of Benicia. And how will Mark vote on that?

Elections too often cause enemies, and that’s really hard in a small town. I like Mark, and I find it difficult to bring forward his record as one good reason to vote for Elizabeth Patterson for Mayor. But these are necessary considerations in making a good decision for the future of Benicia. Unlike the Republican candidate for President, I hope we ALL will support whomever wins the election as our Mayor, no matter the outcome. Meanwhile, I’ll vote for Elizabeth and invite you to do so, too.

Elizabeth’s website is ElizabethForMayor.org
Steve’s website is SteveYoungForCityCouncil.org