Category Archives: Local elections

Benicia election – a flood of letters for Kari and Terry, and blasting Valero’s corrupt influence

Letters for Kari in the media and on this website have taken a huge turn – see below.

By Roger Straw, November 4, 2022


More letters, news & links about the 2022 election, Kari Birdseye and Terry Scott here on the BenIndy

And best of all – Kari’s website!

Jan Cox Golovich: Many thanks to those exposing Valero’s corrupt influence

The overwhelming response from the community when Valero’s campaign contributions and deceptive practices are exposed is one of outrage.

By Jan Cox Golovich, November 1, 2022

Jan Cox Golovich, Benicia CA

I would like to express my appreciation to the many community people who have worked diligently to expose the corruption of our local city council elections with Valero’s efforts to buy council seats for Strawbridge and Largaespada during the last three election cycles (2018,2020,2022) Specifically, I would like to thank Lawrence Dutch with his Letters to the Editor, Andres Soto via his radio show on KPFA, leaders of the newly formed group Benicians for Clean Elections and Roger Straw, Editor and Publisher of the Benicia Independent.

Valero has poured massive amounts of money to secure these seats for their hand-picked candidates Strawbridge and Largaespada. In 2018 and 2020, they spent $445,000 buying ads, bombarding us with endless phone calls and smearing good, honest candidates. As far as I can tell in my research, this is an unprecedented amount for a small town of 28,000 people. Presently, Valero has a war chest of over $225,000 for the 2022 election. They have sent out deceptive mailers and conducted phone banks promoting their candidates disguised as a neutral “poll” These last minute maneuvers are difficult to counter, as they hide many of their expenditures until AFTER the election.

The overwhelming response from the community when Valero’s campaign contributions and deceptive practices are exposed is one of outrage. We cannot tolerate or accept this as the status quo in our town. The community displayed its intolerance in 2020 when Strawbridge was trounced in her bid for the Mayor’s seat, despite the massive financial backing of Valero. Yet, Valero has persisted in building its campaign coffers and coming up with even dirtier tactics.

Sadly, our elected officials have displayed an astonishing disconnect from its outraged electorate and rather than criticize Valero for corrupting our elections, they have turned on the very community people who have exposed it. The two beneficiaries of Valero’s campaign funds feign ignorance as to why Valero would support them with these massive amounts of money and complain that those exposing these “facts” are engaging in “negative campaigning”. Another elected official writes a letter to the editor calling the attacks on Valero “over-the-top”, ignoring the fact that the money Valero pours into our elections to buy council seats is much more egregious. Yet another councilmember writes a tone-deaf letter to the editor saying that Strawbridge and Largaespada would make good council members and calls for their detractors to “stop talking trash.” Strawbridge and Largaespada may make great council members for Valero, but their ability to do good for the community is completely compromised by Valero’s sponsorship.

I have lived in this town close to forty years and have always been proud of the strong voice of the community that comes together and stands up for what is right. Whether it’s preserving open space, cleaning up toxic waste, blocking petroleum coke domes on the waterfront or fighting against exploding Bakken oil trains, this community has ALWAYS won the fight; we have done this despite opposition from City Hall and powerful monied interests. I have no doubt that we will go back to having clean and honest elections one day very soon. Thanks to all that are making this happen.

Jan Cox-Golovich
Former Benicia City Councilmember

More letters, news & links about the 2022 election, Kari Birdseye and Terry Scott here on the BenIndy

And best of all – Kari’s website!

Benicia Mayor Steve Young – Why Benicia voters should support Measure R

Measure R … the most direct way to assure our roads will finally be fixed

Guest Editorial by Mayor Steve Young, October 7, 2022

Benicia Mayor Steve Young

Measure R is the Benicia Local Road Repair & Infrastructure Measure! This measure is a local initiative that will provide the necessary funding to fix, and then maintain, our roads. The Benicia City Council has placed this measure on the ballot in the hopes that voters will approve of the most direct way to assure our roads will finally be fixed.

Measure R would increase the sales tax on certain purchases made in Benicia by 3/4 of 1 cent. This means if you spend $100, Measure R would cost you an additional 75 cents. Sales taxes apply to certain retail purchases, but does not include food and medicine purchased in grocery stores. Additionally, the use of a sales tax is a way to lesson the burden on Benicia residents since a significant portion of the proceeds of the sales tax is paid by tourists and others coming from out of town to enjoy our great restaurants, charm and ambience.

If Measure R passes, our sales tax rate will be 9.125%. That would still be less than several of our neighboring cities including Concord, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Richmond, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Berkeley, Oakland and more. No one wants to pay more taxes, but if we are ever going to get ahead of our deteriorating road conditions, this is the most direct way to do so. If we fail to pass this measure, our roads will continue to get worse.

So why do we need Measure R? Its clear to most that our roads conditions are poor, to put it kindly. Independent engineering studies have noted that our roads conditions have a score (PCI) of 57 which is deemed “at risk”. Further, 42% of our roads are considered “poor or failed” and we have some of the worst roads in the region. The report also noted that in order to fix our roads to an acceptable standard (70 PCI) we need to invest nearly $6 million each year for the next ten years.

If passed, Measure R would generate approximately $5 million/year. Currently the City only receives about $1.1 million/yr from the State Gas Tax and other sources to invest in our roads. If Measure R passes, it would generate over $50 million over the next ten years, which is what we need to bring our PCI to a score of 70. Additionally, it would generate all the money we would need to continue to maintain our roads going forward.

While this measure is titled The Benicia Local Road Repair and Infrastructure Measure, it is a general tax which, theoretically, could be redirected by a future Council to non-road and storm drain repairs. For those who distrust this Council to keep our word on the use of these funds, voters should consider how the City has kept its word on the use of Measure C funds. Measure C, “The Benicia Quality of Life Measure”, was passed by voters in 2014 . As the title of the measure suggests, the purpose of Measure C was to support existing City services. The City has used Measure C Funds to invest in a variety of projects including public safety, City facilities, parks, the library, and roads. In fact, 33% of all Measure C funds ($15 million) has been invested in roads and infrastructure. Yet that amount is not nearly enough to fix our roads.

Bottom line is that the City needs to find a way to address the long standing priority of repairing our roads, and it is not realistic to think we can cut our $50 million budget by 10% every year for the next ten years without stripping away some programs that the community has come to rely upon.

To help ensure that this Council and future City Councils stays on course with investing in our roads, spending from Measure R would have strict oversight provided by our Economic Development Board, including our City Treasurer.

In the end, voters should realize this is the best opportunity to deal with our old and failing roads, and for which no other reasonable way exists to fix them.

On behalf of the City Council, I thank you for your trust in supporting this critical investment in our infrastructure. Please join me in voting YES on Measure R.

To learn more about Measure R, please visit

Constance Beutel: Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council

Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council

Background, Experience and Commitment

By Constance Beutel, Benicia resident, July 17, 2022

Constance Beutel, Benicia CA

I strongly support Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council.  Ms. Birdseye has exceptional professional qualifications and civic service that are essential to our community.

  • She is a working professional with wide corporate and nonprofit experience.
  • She has served as Matthew Turner elementary school PTA President.
  • She has served on Benicia’s Planning Commission since 2015 and currently is the Chair of the Commission.

With her background and experience she has demonstrated a commitment to invite community participation, respectfully listen and deeply research community issues.  Further, she is unafraid to put community interests over outside influence.

Her commitment to Benicia’s economic vibrancy, historic character, and clear focus on our health and safety relating to air and water quality make her an ideal and steadfast City Council candidate.

I’m voting for Benicia’s future and Kari Birdseye; I hope you will too.

Constance Beutel, EdD

More letters, news & links about Kari here on the BenIndy

And best of all – Kari’s website!

Kari Birdseye For Benicia City Council 2022