Tuesday, August 11
7:00pm on ZOOM…
Council and Mayoral Candidates
Hey, members and friends – just a reminder that PDB’s next General Membership meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 11, which will be a discussion with candidates running for Benicia Mayor and City Council. We’ve decided we no longer need a second endorsement meeting (previously scheduled for Aug. 20) and have decided to combine the meetings into one on Aug. 11.
All Democratic candidates running for Benicia Mayor and City Council were invited. Incumbent Councilmember Tom Campbell declined our invitation to attend without explanation. Vice-Mayor Christina Strawbridge, who is running for Mayor, also declined to attend citing “previous experiences with the group.”
As a result, we will have plenty of time to hear from the Democratic candidates running for Benicia Council and Mayor who have graciously accepted our invitation to discuss their campaigns and vision for Benicia with members of the Benicia community:
Candidate for Mayor: Councilmember Steve Young
Candidates for Council: Trevor Macenski and Terry Scott
The Nov. 3 election in Benicia is an important one and I hope you can participate in this discussion. Members will decide whether PDB will endorse any of the Democratic candidates running for Mayor and City Council. The PDB ballot will have each of the Democratic candidates listed – eligible members may vote for one Mayoral candidate and up to two Council candidates. As with earlier PDB endorsement discussions, members will be able to vote online for their choices. (Details below.)
Several of you have already shared questions with us you would like the candidates to answer. Please let us know if there are other issues and questions you want presented to any of the candidates. See you on Aug. 11!!!
Ralph Dennis PDB Chair
HOW TO PARTICIPATE…
Endorsement meeting on August 11…
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Progressive Dems of Benicia will meet on Zoom. Members and friends will receive Zoom login instructions by email. If you are not currently on our member or interested parties email list and want to attend, you can either Become A Member, OR,
if you are just interested and want to attend, go to our Contact Us page to ask for Zoom instructions by email.
The ballot and voting procedures… For eligible members voting, the ballot will be posted with instructions on the PDB web site following completion of the Aug. 11 meeting. The voting period will be open until August 18, 5:00 pm PT. You will submit your ballot via the online form. We will verify members’ status. Results of the votes in each race will be published on Aug. 19.
Once again, in order to continue maintaining social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Progressive Dems of Benicia met on Zoom.
Discussion on police reform issues with Benicia Police Chief Erik Upson
Benicia Police Department reforms was the main topic at our July membership meeting.
In the wake of demonstrations and protests over racial injustice and police brutality, including the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other black and brown members of our society, in June Police Chief Erik Upson announced steps “the Benicia Police Department is taking for a better future.”
Chief Upson has stated: “I’m very proud of the culture we have built in this department and the humanistic approach we take that focuses on the community. I know there is more we can do, and I look forward to making changes that will strengthen our relationship with those we serve.”
Chief Upson joined us to discuss what has been done and what the department is doing to ensure any aspects of racism in the Department are addressed and measures are in place to eliminate and prevent it in the future. For example, in response to Governor Newsom’s order, Benicia police are removing use of the carotid choke control from its policy. Chief Upson has also created a “Use of Force Policy Review” web page which clarifies current Benicia police policy. And, the Benicia Police Policy Manual is now posted for public review (checking in at 756 pages!).
While these actions are important, questions remain, and Chief Upson addressed many of our questions in his discussion.
Benicia Tree Foundation
Also on the program was Alison Fleck, President of the Benicia Tree Foundation. Ms. Fleck discussed Caltrans’ recent removal of trees along the Hwy 780 corridor, and the Foundation’s plans to pursue actions to force Caltrans to replace the removed trees with new ones. Recently, City Council passed a Resolution supporting the Foundation’s intent to have new trees planted along Hwy 780. Ms. Fleck to suggested ways in which PDB can support the Foundation’s efforts toward Caltrans.
Once again, in order to continue maintaining social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, Progressive Dems of Benicia held its June meeting on Zoom.
Members and friends received Zoom login instructions by email. Those not currently on our member or interested parties email list who wanted to attend, could either Become A Member, OR, if they were just interested and wanted to attend, could let us know on our Contact Us page, so that we could send Zoom instructions by email.
JUNE 9 TOPIC: UPCOMING BALLOT MEASURES
Our featured topic for discussion at our June 9 Zoom meeting was ballot measures on the Nov. 3 ballot. You may have already heard about a proposed “property tax reform” initiative promoted by Schools and Communities First and many other education, health, and labor organizations, plus the ACLU and League of Women Voters.
A “yes” vote would require commercial and industrial properties, except those zoned as commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price.
A “no” vote would continue taxing commercial and industrial properties based on a property’s purchase price , with annual increases equal to the rate of inflation or two (2) percent, whichever is lower.
Generally referred to as the Schools and Local Communities Funding Act, it would create a “split-roll property tax” where commercial properties valued over $3 million would be reassessed every three years at market value. Smaller businesses, farming properties, and residential homes would be exempt and remain under the existing framework.
Proponents claim the change could produce up to $12 billion annually – 60% earmarked for local governments and 40% for education. According to a study by the University of Southern California, schools and cities could benefit from the new revenue stream as soon as fiscal year 2021-2022.
Opponents of the ballot measure include the anti-tax group Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association – claiming the new tax burden would kill Main Street and the small businesses that survive the pandemic-induced shutdown; and, the California Retailers Association – property owners will raise rents if the measure is approved, meaning businesses will pass on costs to customers. Other opponents include the California Chamber of Commerce, California Farm Bureau Federation and California Bankers Association.