Benicia council to say goodbye to outgoing mayor
BENICIA – Outgoing Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson will be honored on Tuesday by elected officials after nearly 20 years of public service on the City Council.
Patterson, who was first elected to the City Council in 2003, began her run as mayor when she was elected to the position in 2007. She went on to be re-elected twice before deciding earlier this year not to seek a fourth term as mayor.
She told the Fairfield Daily Republic in July that she will be focusing her energies on fighting climate change.
Patterson will be presented with a resolution honoring her service to Benicia.
The resolution, in part, states that she “worked tirelessly to protect and promote Benicia’s interests on a wide range of issues, from public safety to fiscal responsibility, and that of the larger community, by promoting sustainability and climate awareness.”
It also praises Patterson’s “advocacy for environmental sustainability dovetailed with her passion for planning, which led to a leadership role in forming the Community Sustainability Commission.”
The Benicia City Council will hold two meetings Tuesday night.
At 6 p.m., the council will meet in closed session to discuss once case of potential litigation. Then at 7 p.m., in open session, the council is expected to certify the election results of the council and mayor contests and also honor Patterson.
Councilman Steve Young won election to the mayor’s seat, defeating Vice Mayor Christina Strawbridge for the position. Councilman Tom Campbell won re-election to the five-person council with Planning Commissioner Trevor Macenski narrowly edging out Benicia Arts and Culture Commission member Terry Scott by less than 130 votes for Young’s council seat.
During the second meeting at 7:30 p.m., Young, Campbell, and Macenski will be sworn in for their new terms. They will join Strawbridge, and fellow Councilman Lionel Largaespada.
Those wishing to submit a comment for the either meeting can do so by emailing the comments to Benicia City Clerk Lisa Wolfe at email@example.com.
The general public can view the public three ways: Cable T.V. Broadcast on Channel 27; livestream online at http://www.ci.benicia.ca.us/agendas, or by Zoom meeting.
The Zoom link is
• If prompted for a password, enter 454382.
• Use participant option to “raise hand” during the public comment period for the item you wish to speak on. Please note, your electronic device must have microphone capability.
Or the public can dial in with phone:
Before the start of the item you wish to comment on, call any of the numbers below. If one is busy, try
the next one.
1 669 900 9128
1 346 248 7799
1 253 215 8782
1 646 558 8656
1 301 715 8592
1 312 626 6799
• Enter the meeting ID number: 835 1103 2155 please note this is an updated ID number.
• Enter password: 454382
• When prompted for a Participant ID, press #.
• Press *9 on your phone to “raise your hand” when the Mayor calls for public comment during the item you wish to speak on. Once unmuted, you will have up to 5 minutes to speak.
Benicia Election Update with candidate quotesKQED Election Updates, By Ted Goldberg, November 4, 2020
Benicia Councilman Steve Young, a candidate attacked by a political action committee funded mainly by the Valero Energy company, will be the city’s new mayor.
The Working Families for a Strong Benicia PAC raised more than $250,000 to defeat Young and support Councilwoman Christina Strawbridge. The committee said Young would put blue collar jobs, like those at Valero’s Benicia refinery, at risk.
But city’s voters were not swayed.
With Young leading the race with close to 52% of the vote, Strawbridge, who garnered about 31%, conceded the election Wednesday morning.
“I believe the voters reacted strongly against the negative ads and mailers that the Valero-funded PAC tried to use against me,” Young said.
“Hopefully, Valero will learn the obvious lesson from this result: Interference in Benicia elections will be rejected in the future as well,” Young said.
Just in: Steve Young – a Benicia City Councilmember and the focus of campaign attacks by a PAC heavily funded by Valero – will be the city’s mayor. His opponent on the council, Christina Strawbridge, has conceded the election. @KQEDnews
— Ted Goldberg (@TedrickG) November 4, 2020
Strawbridge called Young’s election a “decisive victory.”
“Congratulations to him,” Strawbridge said, adding that the two lawmakers exchanged text messages Wednesday morning. “Even though it was a tough election, we have and will work together for Benicia.”
Since 2019, Valero has donated $240,000 to the political action committee targeting Young. The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 549 donated some $50,000 as well.
The same PAC spent thousands to help Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada win seats on the Benicia City Council, and to defeat Kari Birdseye, a former chair of the city’s Planning Commission that denied Valero’s crude-by-rail expansion project.
Young will take over from Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, a critic of Valero who has served in Benicia city government for two decades.
Patterson had become increasingly outspoken about efforts to place more regulations on the Valero plant, scene of the two worst refinery accidents in the Bay Area in the last three years.
The fact that Young withstood the Valero PAC’s campaign is hugely significant, according to Matto Mildenberger, an assistant professor of political science at UC Santa Barbara, who focuses on oil politics.
“It means that Benicia voters are willing to take their climate future into their own hands and are going to resist efforts by oil companies to control local politics,” Mildenberger said.
Patterson says 3 terms as Benicia mayor enough; will focus on climate change
Instead, she said she will focus her energies on what she called the “climate catastrophe.” Patterson said she wants to dedicate more time to the issue of climate change.
“We are in the future of climate change,” said Patterson, who was first elected to the City Council in 2003 and started her run as mayor with an election win in 2007.
The outgoing mayor also had hoped to go to Michigan to work on the campaign for the Democratic presidential nominee, but is not sure of those plans due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Patterson also hopes to get into the outdoors more.
“There are more trails to hike and places to camp in,” she said.
Her decision not to run means the nomination period for candidates seeking to fill the mayor’s post will be extended to Aug. 12. She said she will be supporting a candidate in the race, but declined to say who that is at this time.
The mayoral candidates who have filed their election papers are current Councilman Steve Young, Christina Strawbridge and Jason Diavatas.
Terry Scott has filed candidacy papers for the City Council, while incumbent Councilman Tom Campbell and potential challenger Trevor Macenski have taken out papers, but had not filed as of Thursday morning. Because of Young’s decision to run for mayor, the nomination period is extended to Aug. 12 for his council seat.
Ken Paulk was expected to file his papers Thursday for re-election as city treasurer. City Clerk Lisa Wolfe has taken out papers.
Dixon Mayor Thom Bogue has not taken out re-election papers as of Thursday morning, either. Attempts to reach Bogue were unsuccessful.
If he chooses not to run, it will mean that there will be at least three new mayors among the seven Solano County cities.
Bob Sampayan dropped his campaign for re-election as mayor in Vallejo, citing health concerns.
While there has been plenty of interest in possible candidates in Vallejo – Councilman Robert McConnell, M. Avonelle Hanley‐Mills and Cornisha Williams‐Bailey each has taken out papers for the mayor’s post – no candidate for any elected seat has actually filed papers as of Thursday morning.
The City Council election, for the first time, is by districts. In a twist, that means those council members who had been elected at-large, are not considered district incumbents.
Councilwoman Rozzana Verder‐Aliga has taken out papers for District 1, as have L. Alexander Matias and Vernon Williams III; Councilman Hermie R. Sunga has taken out papers for District 3, as have Jaci Caruso and Guillermina “Mina” Diaz; and Councilwoman Cristina Arriola and Councilman Jerry Bovee have taken out papers for District 6.
Whether Bogue seeks re-election or not, there are challengers for the mayor’s office in Dixon.
Councilmen Devon Minnema and Steve Bird have filed candidacy papers for mayor. That leaves their District 3 and District 4 council seats vacant. As of Thursday morning, only Kevin Johnson had filed papers to replace Bird in District 3. The nomination period for all offices, as the candidacy picture stands, will be extended to Aug. 12.
There could be yet another mayoral change if any of the challengers can unseat Rio Vista Mayor Ron Kott, who has filed his candidacy papers for a new term. Emily Gollinger also has filed papers. Rick Lynn pulled papers, but as of Thursday morning, had not filed. The nomination period ends Aug. 7.