Tag Archives: Benicia City Manager Erik Upson

Deputy City Manager Mario Giuliani named interim Benicia city manager

Giuliani will replace City Manager Erik Upson who is leaving on March 1 to take a position with a global security firm.

The Vallejo Sun, by Ryan Geller, Feb 14, 2023

BENICIA – The Benicia City Council unanimously appointed Deputy City Manager Mario Giuliani as the city’s interim city manager at a special meeting on Monday night.

Giuliani will replace City Manager Erik Upson who is leaving on March 1 to take a position with a global security firm.

The city is still working on the details of Giuliani’s contract as Benicia’s interim city manager, a position which could lead to the more permanent city manager position after a trial period.

Giuliani has been Benicia’s deputy city manager for two years. Prior to that, he served as the city’s economic development manager for 13 years. Giuliani has lived in Benicia for 30 years, he has worked for Benicia, Walnut Creek and Vallejo parks departments and in the Benicia City attorney’s office.

“So much of a City Manager’s job is about communication, both the ability to convey a message but also to listen.” Giuliani told the Vallejo Sun.

According to Giuliani, a key experience that will inform his approach as city manager is his work on Benicia’s sales tax measures. Measure C, a 1 cent sales tax to provide funding for essential city services, passed in 2014 but Measure R, which would have increased Benicia’s sales tax by three-quarters of a cent to fund roads, failed by a narrow margin in November.

“From that loss it’s important to take stock in the listening piece in communication,” Giuliani said in an email. “There was clearly a sentiment in the community that I missed or failed to properly address. How one accepts accountability in defeat is also a necessary experience and a trait needed for one to be successful.”

In the past, the City Council has filled the city manager position both by recruiting outside candidates as well as drawing from the city’s own ranks – as they did with Eric Upson, who was the city’s police chief prior to his appointment as city manager.

This time, considering the urgency of the city’s current projects and the qualifications of several city staff members, the Council chose to select from internal candidates.

“There are about five or six people who work for the City of Benicia that are very highly qualified, so that’s a blessing and on the other hand… how do you pick one,” Councilmember Tom Campbell told the Vallejo Sun.

The city manager is a difficult position, because the right candidate “has to have good interpersonal and communication skills, but they also have to be able to look at a set of numbers and policies and say this is how the city is going to run,” Campbell said. “Most city managers are really good at one or the other, it’s rare that you see them excel at doing both.”

Upson said that the biggest challenge that the new City Manager will face is balancing revenue with the cost of repairing and upgrading Benicia’s aging infrastructure, such as roads and the city’s water supply and wastewater system. “Unfortunately, it’s this generation that will have to deal with these issues,” Upson said in an email. “The wheels are simply going to come off otherwise.”

Despite the upcoming challenges, Upson said that he feels that he is leaving the city in a good position with a talented staff and a council that works together to address the difficult problems.

Last month, Upson announced that he would retire from his position as city manager just over two years after he was appointed. He accepted an offer from a security firm that recruited him for an international position. He said that the opportunity to travel and a salary that will go farther as his children enter college were the factors that tipped the scales toward the new position.

“You may still see me around as I intend to stay on as a Volunteer Reserve Police Officer, working occasionally to support the Police Department,” Upson said in a statement.

City of Benicia now requires vaccination (or weekly tests & masking) of all City staff

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER: City of Benicia This Week

Message from the City Manager, Erik Upson
October 11, 2021

Hello Everyone,

City of Benicia Personnel Policy #44 will take effect today. This policy requires vaccination of City staff. Those not vaccinated will be required to be tested weekly and wear a mask while indoors at City facilities as well as following all applicable State, County and Local guidelines regarding the wearing of masks.

We did not step into this lightly, but felt it was needed to help protect the safety of our staff and our community. I know some will feel this policy does not go far enough. And some will feel it is a governmental overreach. As always, we are trying to do our very best to balance very real public health concerns with the very real concerns about personal freedoms. Bottom line is we want to do what is best for our community and our staff in this difficult and ever-changing pandemic response.

I want to take a moment to thank our labor groups and their representatives as well as Kim Imboden, our Human Resources Manager, and Fire Chief Josh Chadwick for their work on this. From the very beginning our labor representatives took a positive, thoughtful, and collaborative approach to this very delicate issue.

We continue to look for ways to advance the health of our community. We are currently working with the County in hopes that we will be at the forefront of providing booster shots as those become necessary and more widely available. Additionally, it is our hope when the Pfizer vaccine becomes available for children ages 5-11, we will be able to partner with the County and the School District to help provide those shots at a local clinic. Finally, the Fire Chief is working with the County in hopes of providing drive-through flu clinics here in Benicia later this year.

On a very positive note, I would like to point out that the Benicia Dog Festival will be happening on Sunday, October 17 at the First Street Green. The opening ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. This festival has been a long time in the works, and I want to give thanks to the event’s founder Gaul Culley for her patience, thoughtfulness, and, yes, stubbornness, as she worked to make this event happen. Benicia is a very dog-friendly community, and this event will be a fantastic opportunity to get out and connect. Please see their website for more information (https://beniciadogfestival.com/).

Thank you for your interest in the City of Benicia This Week!

Erik Upson
City Manager

Benicia cancels July 4 parade & fireworks, announces vaccine events

By Roger Straw, May 17, 2021

From City Manager Erik Upson’s weekly newsletter, May 17, 2021.

“The decision, as you will read below, to cancel the 3rd of July parade and 4th of July fireworks show was extremely difficult for all involved. After discussion with Benicia Main Street (who host the events), thoughtful consideration of the current situation, as well as the uncertainty over what will transpire in June, we collaboratively made this difficult decision. In good conscience, we simply cannot bring 20-30,000 people into close contact as close as we are to the finish line. It is our sincere hope that neighborhoods and neighbors will use this opportunity to come together, host small neighborhood events that help bring us closer together and build upon what makes Benicia so special.”

Cancellation of 4th of July Events
In an abundance of caution, the City will forgo hosting the 3rd of July parade and the fireworks show on the evening of July 4th due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The traditional Torchlight Parade on July 3rd and the Picnic in the Park and Fireworks Display on July 4th are events cosponsored by the City of Benicia and Benicia Main Street.
Unfortunately, Solano County remains one of the few counties still in the more restrictive Red Tier. Governor Newsom has announced plans to relax regulations and remove the tier system on June 15th. However, mass gatherings are currently not allowed, and the State has provided no indication that mass gatherings will be permitted with the forthcoming changes. Mass gatherings are of concern because Benicia’s Torchlight Parade and Fireworks Display each draw upwards of 20,000 spectators.
The City and Benicia Main Street have been waiting for guidance from the Governor’s Office to make a final determination but due to the need to have begun planning some time ago and the lack of specific details from the Governor’s Office, the City wants to give families time to prepare for other celebrations.
“Those communities that have announced plans to host 4th of July festivities are able to do so because they have venues, such as amphitheaters or other spaces, where attendance can be limited and controlled. In Benicia, we don’t have the facilities that would allow to limit the size of mass gatherings,” said Erik Upson, City Manager. “The safety of our community remains our top priority. We have the end of this pandemic in sight and can look forward to celebrating again as a community next year.”
Smaller neighborhood celebrations are encouraged. The City’s Parks and Community Services Department will soon announce exciting details of fun 4th of July activities to bring neighborhoods together.
COVID Vaccine Update
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for 12-15-year-old adolescents. Solano County Public Health has expanded vaccine eligibility to Solano County residents 12-15 years of age. Starting last Thursday, families can now schedule an appointment for their 12 to 15-year-old to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Parents must accompany their children to the vaccine clinic as consent is required.
For individuals age 16-17 years old, they can also receive receive the Pfizer vaccine and must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to their appointment, or have a parent/guardian that can contact by phone during the appointment.
Public Health has several vaccine clinics scheduled. Click here for details. For scheduling assistance, call the vaccine line at 707.784.8655. Homebound or need transportation to get to a vaccine clinic? Call the vaccine line at 707.784.8655.

Solano County COVID report: 32 new cases today

By Roger Straw, Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Solano reports 32 new cases today.  Stay safe, remember: People with mild COVID can have long-term health problems

Solano County COVID report on Wednesday, May 12.
[Source: see far below.  See also my ARCHIVE spreadsheet of daily Solano COVID updates.]
Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard – SUMMARY:

On May 12, Solano County reported 32 new COVID cases.  Our hearts go out to those 32 and their families and friends.  PROGRESS: we saw 1,288 new cases in April, an average of 43 per day.  In the first 7 days of May, Solano reported 275 new cases, an average of 39 per day.  Reports are that our red-tier Solano County will not be joining all other Bay Area counties in opening to less restrictive tiers anytime soon.  Solano’s Active cases fell today from 249 to 236.  Our percent positivity rate rose a bit, and remains high at 7.1%.  We have not seen rates this high since Feb. 22.

Cases among children and youth have increased alarmingly. Note especially children and youth 0-17 and young adults age 18-49.
Percent of  ALL CASES SINCE JUNE 2020, age groups as of May 12, 2021
Date Cases
% 0-17
% 18-49
% 50-64
% 65+
6/5/20 5.8% 45.2% 25.6% 23.3%
7/1/20 9.0% 57.5% 20.1% 13.4%
8/31/20 11.0% 60.6% 19.2% 9.2%
5/12/21 12.2% 55.4% 20.5% 11.8%
Hospitalizations – no new information today…

The Solano County COVID dashboard Summary tab only shows active hospitalizations for the current day (16 today – 3 more than yesterday).  This number represents the total currently hospitalized after yesterday’s admissions and discharges.  Little can be learned from this about the accumulated total of hospitalizations since the outbreak began.

Solano County Hospitalizations by Age Group, May 11, 2021. Click image for larger view.

But on the Demographics tab of the County dashboard, the County “occasionally” updates the accumulated total of hospitalizations by age group.  These numbers had not been updated since early April, but were updated this week.  Monday the County reported 3 new hospitalizations since early April, and added another 6 on Tuesday.  The 2-day increase of 9 includes 1 person age 18-49, 1 person 50-64 and 7 persons age 65+.   Looks like hospitalizations are dramatically DOWN.  We’ll keep an eye on this for more “occasional” updates.

Solano County Total COVID Hospitalizations by AGE GROUPS as of May 12
Age 0-17
Age 18-49
Age 50-64
Age 65+
    26     324     332     598

>> The virus is still on the move here.  Stay safe, get vaccinated, wear a mask and social distance!  We will get through this together.

Cases by City on Wednesday, May 12:

  • Benicia added 1 case today, total of 979 cases since the outbreak began.  Benicia averaged 2 cases/day in April.
  • Dixon added 5 cases today, total of 1,896 cases.
  • Fairfield added 7 new cases today, total of 8,943 cases.
  • Rio Vista remained steady today, total of 370 cases.
  • Suisun City added 4 new cases today, total of 2,258 cases.
  • Vacaville added 10 new cases today, total of 8,597 cases.
  • Vallejo added only 5 new cases today, total of 9,766 cases.
  • Unincorporated areas remained steady today, total of 103 cases.
City Manager Upson reports on COVID in Benicia
Benicia City Manager Erik Upson

Benicia City Manager Erik Upson reported on COVID in this week’s City of Benicia newsletter.  Benicia, he wrote, is “second in the County for highest level of vaccination at 73.9% (just behind Rio Vista at 74.8%) and have the lowest incident rate at at .035 (Solano County average is double that at .07). There are many factors that go into those numbers, but I believe part of it is our City’s approach to making it our top priority and our community’s willingness to step forward and set the example. Great job Benicia! If you’re looking for a vaccine, click here to find upcoming clinics.”  [More]

COMPARE: Screenshots from Solano County COVID Dashboard on Tuesday, May 11:

The data on this page is from today’s and the previous Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The Dashboard is full of much more information and updated weekdays around 4 or 5pm.  On the County’s dashboard, you can hover a mouse or click on an item for more information.  Note the tabs at top for SummaryDemographics and Vaccines.  Click here to go to today’s Solano County Dashboard.