In this age of pandemic distancing, the Progressive Democrats of Benicia convened about 50 members and interested parties in a digital ZOOM Candidate Forum on August 11.
Candidate for Mayor Steve Young and candidates for City Council Trevor Macenski and Terry Scott gave opening statements, answered prepared questions and audience questions, and finished with brief closing statements.
Members of the Progressive Democrats voted whether and whom to endorse by an online poll on the PDB website. Voting was open for a week following the Forum.
For endorsement, PDB bylaws require a vote of 50% plus one of those present and voting.
Results were overwhelming in the Mayoral race. 100% of the 43 members voting chose to endorse Steve Young for Mayor in 2020. Congratulations, Steve! Christina Strawbridge, who declined to attend, received no votes.
The race for City Council presented members with a wider choice. Members could vote for up to two to fill the two vacant seats. Incumbent Tom Campbell, who also declined to attend, received only 5 votes, or 11.6% of those voting. Planning Commissioner Trevor Macenski received 13 votes, or 30.2% of those voting. Arts and Culture Commissioner Terry Scott received support from 40 members, or 93.0% of those voting, and snagged our only endorsement for City Council. Congratulations, Terry!
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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.
After canceling PDB general membership meetings for March and April due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we restarted our general membership meetings on May 20. In order to maintaining social distancing, members met by Zoom!!!!!
On May 20 we will heard from Nancy Klein who works with West County Organizing, a group of volunteers in Contra Costa County and the greater East Bay who focus on electoral politics to help elect progressives and Democrats!
West County Organizing uses phone and text banks to register voters and Get Out The Vote (GOTV). They also encourage civic engagement through town hall attendance and calls to elected representatives.
Guest speaker Nancy Klein described their recent efforts and shared with us suggestions on how we can initiate and support GOTV efforts for upcoming races to be decided on November 3.
Our own Kathy Kerridge then described a GOTV letter writing party that she is planning, working through Swing Left.
Our first meeting on Zoom went with relatively few technical glitches, and was so well organized that we ended in just a few minutes over an hour!
We will look forward to zooming together again next month.
IMPORTANT: if you are a member of PDB, January was the month to renew your annual dues (unless you joined since October, 2019, in which case your initial membership and dues count for 2020). PLEASE PAY TODAY!