BENICIA IS A STRONG COMMUNITY

 

We should expect strong leadership

 
 

Measure K: Urban Growth Boundary Renewal

I strongly support the renewal of Measure K to extend the duration of our Urban Growth Boundary, which is expected to sunset on December 31, 2023. Measure K will serve to control growth, preserve separation of communities, preserve agricultural land and protect wildlife from being displaced due to aggressive development many of our neighboring towns have experienced. 

My commitment to our environment and controlling the negative impact of urban sprawl is best exhibited by the endorsements of both the Solano County Orderly Growth Committee and the Sierra Club

I urge all Benicians who agree to join me in voting YES ON MEASURE K.

 

Measure R: Sales Tax Increase for Road Improvements

We cannot continue to ignore previous decisions that allowed our roads to deteriorate creating unsafe driving conditions and lowering property values.  The Ballot Measure vote for a sales tax increase is the fairest way for our residents to be heard on this long-term impact issue. No one likes paying more taxes, myself included. But let's be clear. There is no feasible alternative and anyone who claims so, isn’t telling the truth. Being a good representative means sometimes you need to tell the hard truth in order to maintain trust and transparency. This is one of those times.

With reluctance, I support the sales tax increase. It is the only way we will be able to finally address the need for road repair and maintenance which will create safer streets and higher property values.  If elected, I will work with Council and staff to ensure the funds are properly applied along with citizens oversight and annual audits.   

Passage of this ¾ cent sales tax will provide the City with the funds needed to fix potholes, repair, repave and maintain our streets. Measure R will also provide funds to protect our local creeks and the Strait from pollutants caused by aging storm drains.  

City of Benicia release: Measure R

Vallejo Sun article regarding Measure R

Benicia City Attorney impartial review of Measure R

Vote Yes on Measure R and let's solve this longtime issue once and for all. 

Water & Sewer Rates: Rethink, Recycle, Reuse

For decades, past Councils chose the temporary, easy path of not responsibly increasing water & sewer rates incrementally. This was simply poor planning and a council not thinking about the significant combined financial burden this would cause. Then in 2016, a steep series of rate increases began in order to catch up along with the cost to each resident for new electronic water meters. My opponent seeking re-election has sat on Council for the last 10 years, and voted to dramatically increase rates in 2016.

The 2016 water and waste water increases were not enough to catch up to the decades of neglect. By deferring the infrastructure needs, they simply passed the buck and lack of action on from one Council to another.

Now we’re faced with a huge problem.  As your councilmember, I will move to stabilize water rates and provide residents with ways to be more efficient with their water use, make bills easier to pay, and propose innovative solutions to utilize the 2 million gallons of fresh, usable water released and wasted into the Carquinez strait every single day. 

Unfortunately, because of those past decisions made by current and previous Councilmembers, the issues of our infrastructure cannot be resolved by one council or member. However, I have many ideas on how the City can generate new revenue to help fund these high cost structural improvements. This will take time, and complex discussions. I have the experience and ability to partake in these discussions. My opponents seeking re-election have proven that they do not.

You can learn more about my approach to the water crisis and other issues on my Visions page by CLICKING HERE.

 

I am the only candidate running for City Council to offer any new ideas or solutions to Benicia's wide range of challenges.

 

Protection, Consideration & Engagement of our Senior Community

Did you know that the percentage of Benicians age 55+ is currently 37% and growing? As valuable members of this community, they deserve a voice. Establishing a commission, supported by the City, creates the much needed advocacy for issues that are uniquely important to Benicia seniors. 

While Benicia offers a variety of services, programs and a center for the senior community, activities and events don’t help City administration facilitate actual ongoing needs of an aging community and issues of ageism. 

My solution is to formally establish a Senior Commission with a staff member to delve deeply into the needs of our growing senior populations. This Commission would be tasked with advising the council and staff on a wide range of both active and passive senior issues and serve as an advocate for the older Benicia community.

Seniors pay taxes and support many local programs through philanthropy and volunteerism.  It’s time for seniors to take a seat at the table where decisions are being made. 

 This commission would be able to advise staff and Council on how to effectively understand senior life including:

 

  • Transportation: How is public transportation meeting needs?

  • Housing: Seniors desire/require single floor, accessible dwellings.  How do we, using tools in community planning, help to encourage single story living units?

  • Food Insecurity: No human being regardless of age should go to bed hungry.  Let’s work with the proper foundations and services to ensure needs are consistently met.

  • Parks and Recreation: Create/update ADA compliant parks and trails with restrooms.

  • Parking in the Downtown: Increase disabled parking spaces

 

Our senior community is valuable and knowledgeable. They are not to be "managed", they are to be revered and respected. Let’s show them that respect while leveraging their expertise and allow them a platform to use it for the betterment of our community.

Strong Financial Management & the Skills to Move Forward

Fiscal management starts with transparent and accurate performance audits, expenditure forecasts and financial statements.  That is the information necessary to provide Council accurate planning tools for today and tomorrow.  

 

Unfortunately, both the City Manager and Finance Director have advised the Council and the community that basic accounting practices have not been followed over the past number of years. 

 

After careful analysis, it was recently announced that the information supplied by the City's audit firm has failed to uncover serious, long term fiscal problems for at least the last five years.

 

Our City Manager and Finance Director are in the process of a complete overhaul of the Finance Department.  A new audit firm has been hired. New protocols are in placeBut cleaning up a mess this size takes time and solid experience.

 

I have proven business experience and understand how to review and interpret large financial reporting documents as well as decipher the complex financial functioning of a budget much larger than the City of Benicia will present. My opponents lack this fundamental skill and experience to handle the task.

For more information regarding Economic Development, CLICK HERE

Balancing the Needs for Workforce Housing with Protection of Open Space

I am a passionate advocate for housing that fits properly within the needs and landscape of our community. My priority is, and will remain infill housing that does not disrupt neighborhoods while at the same time fulfills our obligations defined by the State. This mandate requires us to identify potential sites throughout the community to possibly rezone to make it easier for a developer to build.  Open space use, as noted in the City’s Housing Element, is the last tier of considered sites. Benicia is not alone. Every single city and county has been given this mandate by the State. Our City’s share of the Regional Housing Needs Allocation is 750 new housing units for the 2023-2031 planning period. To be clear, the City is not responsible to develop, build or finance this new housing. That is the responsibility of the developer. However, we must plan for new housing based on providing the state with an inventory of potential residential sites that may be capable of supporting new housing.

​That being said, I agree with the current Council’s decision to exclude and protect

Southampton open space sites from 'The Housing Element' document prepared for the State.  

​As your Council member, I believe in supporting housing that is attainable for Benicia’s workforce such as teachers, nurses, artists, city staff, laborers, and young adults; especially those who grew up in Benicia and would like to return here to raise their own families! I would love nothing more than for my own sons to live here in Benicia, but they simply can no longer afford it. Can your children afford to live here? 

 

At this rate, the vast majority of kids graduating as Benicia High Panthers won’t be able to afford to come back. Benicia has always been a multi-generational family community and we should help maintain that by offering alternatives for various levels of income.

Environmental Responsibility in a Refinery Town

 

Benicia has taken a leadership position in implementing a host of environmental policies and action plans under the Climate Action Plan and the recently released Draft Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. While Valero has been a contentious and divisive topic in town, can we at least agree that the desire for, expectation of and the right to access clean air and water is universal? Who doesn't want clean air and safe drinking water?

Delivering on these basic life essentials in a refinery town takes oversight and mutual effort from both the community and the refinery to protect our air and water safety.  As council member, I will follow the path Mayor Steve Young has begun to pave, and help re-establish positive, mutually respectful relationships with Valero built on trust with verification and transparency. 

 

Valero plays an integral part of our community.  They provide significant real estate tax revenue, are the largest employer in Benicia and they add the jobs of many Benicia-based companies that support their needs. This can’t be overlooked.

 

Valero is the City’s largest corporate charitable benefactor as they support a wide range of community groups and nonprofits. This generosity, while appreciated, comes at a price. Excessive emissions and continual fines have resulted in a potential seven figure fine for nearly two decades of violations as determined by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District  (BAAQMD). If the City collects a significant portion of that potential fine, I would advocate for the funds to be used to provide air filtering equipment to our residents.  We must know the level of exposure and dangers in refinery emissions - in real time - with quality air monitoring around the City and at the Refinery. 

 

Protecting air and toxic emissions requires Valero to be more transparent through objective and sophisticated monitoring. Collaboration is the key to being a good environmental neighbor. Good neighbors look out for each other—and Valero  must act with us for the common good. Benicia deserves a strong partnership, and most importantly, more trust and transparency.  My opponents seeking re-election have lost that trust with our community, and lack transparency when it comes to their relationships to Valero. I’d like to change that by being a trusted and open representative for Benicia, working with Valero for the common good. 

 
 
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