Category Archives: “Push poll”

The Importance of Keeping Benicia’s Election Fair

…And sunlighting what’s not
Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council

As you may have heard, Valero’s Benicia Refinery admitted last Friday to sponsoring the unfair telephone “push poll” many Benicians have been responding to during the past month.

Benicia’s City Attorney shared this fact with the public in a letter to the polling companies’ attorney.  Valero General Manager Don Wilson did the right thing by disclosing Valero’s involvement.  However, City Attorney Heather McLaughlin stated in her letter “In order to avoid having to issue a subpoena, I would ask that you voluntarily provide a copy of the poll questions to me within the next 72 hours.”

Benicians who received the phone survey have reported biased lead-ins to questions, including “Kari Birdseye wants to shut down Valero, costing hundreds of jobs” and “She will bring radical left-wing politics to City Hall.”

Benicia City Council candidate Lionel Largaespada’s response suggested that the poll may not even have been biased: “I have heard many different opinions on how it was conducted – ranging from Steve’s claim that it is biased towards me, to residents who found it equally balanced, to others who thought it was negative-sounding towards me. As with most topics, people have differing reactions and take aways based on their own beliefs and opinions.” Mr. Largaespada’s statement aligns with attorneys of the polling companies by casting doubt on whether there was bias at all.  

In addition to asking for the actual questions used in the poll, the City Attorney has requested an itemized invoice showing the dates, times and number of calls made.  This request has been refused by the companies’ attorney.

Thanks to the efforts of Council member Tom Campbell for establishing Benicia’s Fair Campaign Ordinance back in 2008, Benicia has a regulation called Disclosure of Contributions and Expenditures in Candidate and Ballot Measure Elections.  This local law has helped keep our elections clean until now.  Unfortunately, attorneys with deep pockets are involved now and we may never know exactly what questions were asked in the poll.

More polls, paid for PACs against me, are continuing today and probably throughout the weeks leading up to the election.  Please learn more about my campaign through reputable sources like the website or by watching candidate forums like this one:
League of Women Voters / AAUW forum here.

Remember to vote on November 6th or send in your ballot, which should be arriving in your mailbox this week.  And if you haven’t visited my website yet, please stop by at

When They Go Low, We Go High

Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council

The campaign for Benicia’s City Council seats received  a dose of ugliness this week with an outside “research firm” calling Benicians with a so-called poll on state and local politics.

My campaign is in no way connected to this poll.  However, the telephone pollster offered lies about me and flattering comments about one of the other candidates. The favored candidate has publicly denied involvement. I believe him, but then he claims that the poll wasn’t necessarily biased.  He suggests that people hear what they want to hear.  But many Benicians have reported that the push poll is an obvious attempt to smear my good name.  Our city attorney has contacted the firm to inform the outfit that they are most likely violating city ordinances that promote clean campaigns in Benicia.

All of the candidates have signed pledges to adhere to Benicia’s Code of Fair Campaign Practices. Our code includes this section:

The candidate will immediately and publicly repudiate those who take actions that either help a candidate’s candidacy or hurt an opponent’s candidacy, which are inconsistent with the Benicia Code of Fair Campaign Practices.

And now I’ve done so.

Let’s get back to the positive campaigning that has introduced me to so many new Benicians who want a smart, positive candidate who has a track record – on the planning commission and elsewhere – of working to improve our community.

Thanks to all of you who have reached out to me since receiving the bogus poll call to show support.

I rewatched Michelle Obama’s 2016 speech this morning and am inspired to repeat one of her most memorable quotes: “When they go low, we go high.”

Fits perfectly right about now.

– Kari