Read summary reflections below.
Watch the Zoom recording here. >Passcode: Gv^1g6=Z
Endorsement Interviews & Vote
Our Interim Chair, Kathy Kerridge moderated a forum for the three Democratic City of Benicia Council Candidates, Kari Birdseye, Terry Scott, and Christina Strawbridge. Kathy asked each of the candidates to share with the group of approximately 55 attendees 1) why they chose to run for office, 2) why the PDB members should vote to endorse them and 3) what they individually plan to accomplish if elected to serve on the Benicia City Council.
Kari Birdseye believes that this is the time for a change in leadership on the Council. As a member of two City commissions, previously the Human Services Board and currently as Chair of the Planning Commission, Kari has great working relationships with City staff, and she understands the challenges that the City faces. She believes that she can make decisions in a transparent and empathetic manner. Kari has three main priorities that she will address if elected: 1) diversification of Benicia’s economic tax base; 2) the housing crisis in our city with an emphasis on senior housing; 3) transparent, friendly leadership – having an open relationship with all of Benicia including the business and neighborhood communities.
Terry Scott believes that over the last five election cycles, the top issues negatively affecting the City have remained the same: roads, cost of water, poor infrastructure, polluted air and water, and public safety. If elected, Terry will focus on financial management, a commitment to change in core values among City Council members, to open discussions for change, understand how open space is managed, respect and preserve Benicia’s historic heritage, and promote the reimagining of how things get done on an economic basis. Terry’s list of accomplishments in Benicia includes Chair of the Arts and Culture Commission (promoting the painted piano, Shakespeare in the Park, signal boxes, BUSD collaboration on student murals, and working with the mayor to add diversity to the Arts and Culture Commission). Terry was co-organizer of the first Benicia Diversity Festival and co-organizer of the recent March for Our Lives and Women’s March. Terry is a businessman, futurist, and philanthropist who will use sound business sense and judgment to assess how to fix our current issues with a focus on the future, and how those fixes will affect our community members and our environment.
Christina Strawbridge is running on strength and experience. She has been a Benicia City Council member for 9 years. She stated that she was initially hesitant to run again due to the fact that she felt our 2020 election was a “blackeye” on Benicia, mainly due to Valero’s running of attack ads against her opponent, Steve Young. Christina also stated that she was the recipient of a lot of social media attacks, most of which she stated were untrue. Christina was very supportive and complimentary of Erik Upson, the current City Manager. She praised the city staff and Council for their management and support of the citizens and businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Christina’s list of accomplishments for the City of Benicia includes working to revitalize Benicia since 1985. She also worked to keep both of our state parks off the closure list in 2010.
- Stance on Crude by Rail (should Valero attempt to push through this again)
- An Industrial Safety Ordinance, and guaranteeing the safety of Benicia’s citizens from industrial accidents caused by Valero
- Campaign finance restrictions
- The Valero PAC
- The Federal Inflation Reduction Act and the facilitation of mitigation and adaptation strategies for climate change
- Housing in general and housing for seniors and low-income citizens
- Racial equity and environmental justice
- Benicia financial position and retention of city staff
- Position on Measure R (increase the sales tax to improve infrastructure)
During the presentations, attendees entered questions into Chat. PDB Secretary, Maggie Kolk, chose questions that had not previously been addressed and each candidate was given an opportunity to respond.
Candidates provided a one-minute wrap-up to state their reasons for seeking PDB’s endorsement.
Members in good standing participated in the endorsement voting process which included the three City Council Candidates and Jose Altamirano for State Board of Equalization, as well as voting whether to provide funding for the endorsed candidates. The results were not announced but were delivered to members by email the following day. (See here on PDB website.)
The Treasurer’s report was delivered by Kathy Kerridge.
Announcement and Action Items
Cynthia Seguin – Asking for support of two congressional bills -repealing laws introduced in the Reagan Era – the Social Security Fairness Act (HR 82) and the Social Security 2100 Act (HR 572). Call congress to end the unfair tax on retired educators. www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/action-center/take-action/repeal-gpo-wep?ms=daisychainconfirmation
Call Tim Grayson and Lori Wilson to support SB 1137 setbacks for oil wells. https://docs.google.com/document/d/18D_sFxXloOdxBbzda418MPqbo0Iw0bJRHS93-W1uELo/edit
Contact Kathy Kerridge to send out postcards and get yard signs for Benicians for Clean Elections.
Mayor Young – Addressed the City’s financial issues stating that the Council was not aware of these issues. The Council was presented with what they believed were fair, accurate audits. The Housing Element was passed by Council last week and will be submitted to the State by the end of the month. A use permit was given to a cannabis distribution company: Shryne Group is moving their No. Cal headquarters to Benicia and they will build a 40,000 sq. ft. warehouse.
Future Speakers for September – Erik Upson and Bob Berman.