Category Archives: Alan Schwartzman

Benicia Herald interview with Alan Schwartzman: will not seek re-election

Repost from the Benicia Herald

Schwartzman will not seek re-election; no incumbents in City Council race

Councilmember Alan Schwartzman will not be running for re-election, leaving no incumbents running in 2018. (Photo courtesy of City of Benicia)

Councilmember Alan Schwartzman will not be running for re-election, leaving no incumbents running in 2018. (Photo courtesy of City of Benicia)

For the first time since 2007, no incumbents will be running in the Benicia City Council election. Councilmember Mark Hughes announced on Friday that he would not seek re-election, and Alan Schwartzman told the Herald today that he would not be running either.

After 13 years on the council preceded by six years on the Planning Commission and a year and a half on the Economic Development Board a few years earlier, Schwartzman felt it was time to retire to spend more time with family.

“As of Saturday, I’m going to have seven grandchildren,” he said. “I want to spend some more time traveling and seeing the grandkids. It’s time to give back to family.”

A resident since 1987 and current manager of American Pacific Mortgage’s Benicia branch, Schwartzman first considered running for the council in 2003 while serving on the Planning Commission.

“I spent at least two of those six years as the chair,” he said. “It was a wonderful experience. It just confirmed for me that I enjoyed being involved in city government and having a role in decision-making and moving the city forward.”

“I wanted to go beyond Planning Commission and have a greater role in the policies of the city and being able to move the city forward,” he added.

Additionally, Schwartzman’s children were adults and had moved out of Benicia, so he felt he now had the time and commitment to serve on the City Council. He ran in 2005, and ended up being the top vote-getter, which earned him a position as vice mayor. He earned the title again when he was re-elected in 2009 and secured another term in 2014 when he and Hughes ran unopposed. In between, Schwartzman mounted a run for mayor in 2011 but lost to incumbent Elizabeth Patterson.

Schwartzman said he had a lot of proud moments of his time on the council, including being able to get the city through a “contentious” bargaining issue with the firefighters in 2006, maintaining a balanced budget, “hiring a new city manager who filled the department heads slots with high-caliber individuals and the stabilizing of attrition” and weathering the effects of the Great Recession.

“We were a little late to the party getting into it and a little late coming out of it,” he said. “I think that we navigated it as well as we could do.”

Moreover, Schwartzman is proud of the construction of the Rose Drive overpass in 2010 and doing a PERS refunding bond, which both happened during his tenure.

“I’m very happy that we’re able to start to give back to the employees because we certainly had to, during the Great Recession when were going through budget restraints like most every other jurisdiction, do cutbacks,” he said. “I’m happy that we were able to get employees back to where they were and hopefully ahead of where they were.”

Schwartzman feels positive about the current council and hopes the members will continue to keep up the work while taking economic development into consideration, particularly in the Industrial Park.

“I think it’s gonna be extremely important that they focus on the Industrial Park and how to enhance it and have it continue to be a major force economically in the city,” he said.

Additionally, Schwartzman hopes the council will stay on top of the water issue and ensure the city has good water for generations, main the 20 percent reserve and work toward appropriate development of the Seeno property.

“It would be great to start to develop that appropriately because I think that it will go a long way for sustainability of the city,” he said.

Finally, Schwartzman hopes the council will keep in mind the importance of city employees.

“Without a good staff of employees, the city will not run properly,” he said.

Schwartzman said he has a house in Oregon and hopes to spend more time up there after he finishes up his term.

Overall, Schwartzman has enjoyed his time on the council and various government agencies as well as the people he has met along the way.

“Some people call it a thankless job,” he said. “I’ve never thought of it that way. I always thought what the council does is positive for the community, and just knowing that was rewarding to me.”

The candidates running for the council this year are Planning Commission Chair Kari Birdseye, Economic Development Board Chair Lionel Largaespada and former Councilmember Christina Strawbridge. Keep reading the Herald for interviews with all these candidates.

Valllejo Times-Herald: Hughes, Schwartzman not running for re-election to Benicia council

Repost from the Vallejo Times-Herald
[Editor: Thanks to Vallejo Times-Herald reporter John Glidden for this. Like so many print newspapers, the Times-Herald is operating under severe financial duress.  We recently lost the Times-Herald’s only Benicia reporter, and last I knew, the paper had no plans to cover news in Benicia. Yay – thanks John! – RS]

Hughes, Schwartzman not running for re-election to Benicia council

By John Glidden, 08/13/18, 4:22 PM PDT

BENICIA >> Changes are coming to the City Council as incumbents, Mark Hughes and Alan Schwartzman, failed to file candidacy paperwork prior to the Aug. 10 deadline, the Benicia City Clerk’s Office confirmed Monday.

This has triggered an automatic extension of the filing deadline — which is now 5 p.m. Wednesday — allowing the opportunity for additional residents to submit candidacy paperwork.

The current council contest is shaping up to be interesting as three residents have already qualified for the November ballot. They include former Benicia Councilwoman Christina Strawbridge, chair of the Planning Commission Kari Birdseye, and current Economic Development Board Chair Lionel Largaespada.

Strawbridge served on the council from 2011 until 2016 when local voters decided to go in another direction. Largaespada was spurned by voters too in 2016 as he placed fourth out of five candidates.

Having served on the council for 13 years, Hughes said he had decided to focus more on his family.

“Spending more time with my family, including my 96-year-old mother, my 11-month-old granddaughter, and all family and friends in between, is a very high priority for me,” Hughes wrote in an email to his supporters, which was shared with the Times-Herald. “And at this point in our lives, it’s important for Michele and I to have more flexibility in our schedule to accomplish this.

Prior to his run on the council, Hughes was appointed to the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission.

In 2016, Hughes ran for mayor, but was defeated by incumbent Elizabeth Patterson.

Schwartzman also has an extensive political history in Benicia having being first elected to the council in 2005 after serving six years on the Planning Commission.

He couldn’t be reached for comment Monday regarding his decision to not seek re-election.

Larnie Fox: We would simply like to know what is in the air

Submitted by the author…


By Larnie Fox, June 25, 2018

Larnie Fox, Benicia

As a citizen of Benicia who lives close to a refinery I, like many other Benicians, would simply like to know what is in the air that we breathe.

At the Benicia City Council meeting last Tuesday, 6/19/18, the Council missed an excellent opportunity to get us that information. Valero clearly does not want us to know what is in the air we breathe. Unfortunately Tom Campbell joined Mark Hughes and Alan Schwartzman in opposing the proposed Industrial Safety Ordinance. Tom did say that he would vote for such an ordinance in November “if Valero doesn’t act”. I have no doubt that Valero will “act”, but I doubt that it will act in such a way that gets us real-time, publicly accessible air-quality monitors in our neighborhoods. People in our community have been working to get such monitors for close to twenty years. Valero has consistently hampered efforts in that direction. These are the simple facts. It raises the simple question: why does Valero not want us to know what is in our air?

My wife and I are not part of the ISO Working Group, but we and scores of Benicians supporting an Industrial Safety Ordinance sat through the marathon Council meeting last Tuesday until the wee hours of the morning.

  • We heard a very detailed, commonsense, comprehensive proposal for an ISO that included both fence-line and community air monitors and a “seat at the table” that would give our representatives a voice and access to information about events at the refinery.
  • We heard requests from City Council members for Valero to provide more information about the May 5, 2017 flaring incident, which prompted shelter-in-place warnings in our schools and evacuations and sent residents to the hospital, and explain why such information had not already been provided.
  • We heard Valero stonewalling those requests to the obvious frustration of all five Council members.
  • We heard them talking about installing only fence-line (not community) monitors, and even being unwilling to say where those would be located. (We found out they would be on the side of their facility that would measure air moving away from Benicia.)
  • We saw an embarrassing moment when Robert Livesay, a frequent contributor to the Benicia Herald, claimed to be “an organized group” in order to speak out of turn and for an extended time – for an incoherent diatribe against community engagement on this issue – taking advantage of the courtesy the Council extends to actual organized groups like Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community and Valero Energy Partners. This was unfortunate as our local democracy flourishes only because of the civility and courtesy we show each other, even if we disagree on issues.
  • We also saw many well-informed members of our community ask our elected representatives for an ISO that would get us the information we need to be able to save lives should an accident worse than the May 5, 2017 event occur at Valero in the future.

This is not a simple issue. The ISO is multifaceted and complex. However, the simple fact remains that we deserve air-quality monitors in our neighborhoods and access to the information from those monitors in real time. The Council has again delayed this legitimate request. Let’s thank Mayor Patterson and Vice Mayor Steve Young for their leadership, and remember to hold the other three accountable in November.

Larnie Fox

Georgia Taylor Benedict: We will remember this vote

Repost from the Benicia Herald

We will remember this vote

By Georgia Taylor Benedict, June 26, 2018

Thank you to the Benicia Herald for the extremely well-written article regarding the recent City Council meeting during which the approval for an Industrial Safety Ordinance was discussed and once again put off to a future date. It appears three of our councilmembers who voted to “postpone” further review of the issue until November hope the voters will not remember their failure to approve the ISO.

Thank you to Mayor Patterson and Councilman Young for having the courage of their convictions to stand up to the secrecy that shrouds Valero’s safety response. The concerned voters of Benicia will not forget the NO votes cast by Hughes, Schwartzman and Campbell.

Georgia Taylor Benedict,