Category Archives: Christina Strawbridge

Christina Strawbridge on masks: ‘I’m hoping we can rise above politics here’

Benicia City Council to decide on city-wide mask mandate at Aug. 24 special meeting

Benicia Herald, by Galen Kusic, August 20, 2021
[Reprinted with permission, not available online.  Subscribe]

Nearly 81 percent of Benicia’s residents are fully vaccinated, making it the second most vaccinated city in the county, next to Rio Vista. However, as the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, state and in Solano County, Benicia is not being spared.

Over the past five days, Benicia has recorded 20 new COVID-19 cases, an average of five new cases per day, for a total of 1,187 cases since the pandemic began. And while Benicia has the lowest incidence rate in the county at 4,305 per 100,000 residents, the uptick is alarming.

That is what spurred Mayor Steve Young and Vice Mayor Tom Campbell to bring back a discussion on whether to mandate masks in public indoor spaces within Benicia. The eight other Bay Area counties have already implemented the mandate, while Solano County Health Officer Bela Matyas is the lone holdout. In a unanimous vote on Tue. night at the regular City Council meeting, councilmembers voted to bring back the item for a vote on whether to implement the mandate at the Aug. 24 special meeting.

“I implemented a mask mandate within our store a week ago because of the Delta virus strain,” said Councilmember and First St. business owner Christina Strawbridge. “I think it’s the responsible thing to do. I have to protect my staff and I have to protect my customers…I’m hoping we can rise above politics here.”

Matyas has been invited to attend the meeting. It should be a spirited conversation at the least as the majority of residents spoke out in favor of the mandate.

KQED: Candidate Targeted by Valero Wins Benicia Mayoral Race

[Significant quote: “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.'”] [See also KQED’s Oct 28 report on Valero PAC spending.]

Benicia Election Update with candidate quotes

KQED 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.

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.

Benicia election results – a few candidate quotes…

[Editor: You may want to skip the last half of this report.  The reporter gives nearly half of her report to the Cannabis measure D outcome, including extensive quotes from the losing parties and none from those supporting the majority YES on measure D.  – R.S.]

ELECTION 2020: Steve Young wins Benicia mayor race, cannabis measure passes

Cannabis measure passes

Vallejo Times-Herald, By Katy St. Clair, November 4, 2020

BENICIA — Steve Young has been elected mayor of Benicia and a ballot measure he supported, Measure D, was also approved, possibly opening the door for more than one cannabis dispensary in town.

Councilmember Tom Campbell was also re-elected for another term and Terry Scott was also elected to the council as results are now final from Tuesday’s Election Night.

Young defeated fellow Councilmember Christina Strawbridge, with 54.59 percent of the vote. Strawbridge garnered 31.02 percent of the vote and third candidate, Jason Diavatis, received 14.38 percent of the vote.

Young has been on the Benicia City Council for four years and served on the planning commission before that.

“I feel enthused” Young said about his win. “I feel ready to get to work. I think it was a big win for the community and a repudiation of negative campaigning. It should send a message to Valero and others that Benicia voters aren’t going to be swayed by this type of campaigning.”

The mayoral race was at times contentious, helped along by texts, robo-calls, mailers and TV ads paid for by Valero in support of Strawbridge. The oil company pumped more than $250,000 into the race, despite Strawbridge’s stated displeasure with their help.

“Congratulations to Steve Young,” said Strawbridge. “He won decisively.”

Young backed Measure D and made it one of his campaign issues and Strawbridge opposed it.

“It was close,” she said. The measure won with just over half of the votes. Measure D allows the City of Benicia to add more cannabis dispensaries, though the measure is what is called an ‘advisory vote,’ meaning it merely takes the pulse of the electorate. It will not affect local law.”

Benicia resident Bart Bright, who opposed Measure D, agrees that the vote was close and says that shows that the town is divided on the issue.

“The main thing is, we haven’t even opened the first one. Why don’t we just wait?” he said.

Bright also questions the public safety risks involved with having dispensaries, citing a shooting of two dispensary security guards in Oakland on Tuesday.

Strawbridge foresees “a big fight” over adding more dispensaries but she praises the young people that created signs around town opposing the measure, saying that those kids “are our future.”

Benicia election results – details and analysis

By Roger Straw, November 5, 2020
Outstanding votes

The Solano County Registrar of Voters have completed the count of Election Day ballots, and added those results to previously received mail-in ballots.  The result is still unofficial.  As of 9am on Thurs. Nov. 5, The County reports an estimate of 18,000-25,000 additional County-wide vote-by-mail ballots to be received and processed, and 4,000-6,000 additional provisional ballots to be processed.  Benicia’s share of those 22,000-31,000 ballots has not been reported and remains unknown.  However, Benicia’s population is 7% of Solano population, and our voter turnout percentage of 71% is slightly higher than countywide 68% – so we might count for 8% of the 22,000-31,000, or 1,760-2,800 votes.  The County will update its results at close of business and I will report here on any significant changes in outcome.

Benicia races for Mayor and City Council – winners and losers…
Details and analysis…
  • 14,528 Benicia ballots were received, 71% of 20,393 registered voters.  Wow!
  • MAYOR results as of Thurs. Nov 5, 9am:
    7,266 51.93%
    4,287 30.64%
    2,409 17.22%
  • Steve Young won vote-by-mail by a huge margin with 55% to Christina Strawbridge’s 31% and Jason Diavatis’ 15%.
  • Jason Diavatis (surprise!) won election-day voting with 36% (then Young at 34% and Strawbridge at 30%).  Close!
  • There were relatively few election-day votes, 1,746, compared to a whopping 12,216 vote-by-mail ballots.  Thus Steve Young’s incredible overall margin of 21 points.
  • CITY COUNCIL results as of Thurs. Nov. 5, 9am:
    7,245 36.56%
    6,269 31.63%
    6,177 31.17%
  • Tom Campbell won re-election to City Council with the highest vote total among candidates and a margin of just under 1,000 votes.  By tradition, as top vote-getter, Campbell will be named Benicia’s Vice Mayor, replacing Christina Strawbridge in that role.
  • Terry Scott won the second seat on City Council by 135 votes in election-day voting, but lost to Trevor Macenski by 43 votes in vote-by-mail.  Scott’s narrow final (unofficial) margin of 92 votes is subject to counting of more mail-in ballots and provisional ballots.  Keep your fingers crossed!
Cannabis results:

7,175 51.44%
6,772 48.56%

Those voting YES won in vote-by-mail ballots by a margin of 526 votes.  Those voting NO won in election-day voting by a margin of 123 votes.  Again, mail-in voting far outnumbered election-day voters.  Voters cast 12,182 mail-in ballots and only 1,765 election-day ballots.  I expect that the final (unofficial) margin of 403 votes, or 2.88% is likely to hold as the County counts additional mail-in ballots and provisional ballots.