Kari Birdseye – My response to big money negative ads

From the Vallejo Times-Herald – check out the City of Benicia Campaign Finance Reports

Birdseye responds to negative ads

By JOHN GLIDDEN October 16, 2018 at 6:34 pm
Kari Birdseye

“People and companies go negative when they are afraid.”

Benicia City Council candidate Kari Birdseye responded Tuesday to questions asked by this newspaper after a special committee was formed to oppose her campaign.

As of Tuesday afternoon, financial records submitted to the Benicia City Clerk’s Office show that $124,000 has been pumped into the committee, which was also formed to support fellow council candidates Lionel Largaespada and Christina Strawbridge.

Records show that the Valero Benicia Refinery has contributed $14,200 to the committee named: Working Families for a Strong Benicia, a Coalition of Labor, Industrial Services Companies, Public Safety and Local Leaders Supporting Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada and Opposing Kari Birdseye for Benicia City Council 2018.

The other funding sources are a number of union PACs.

“Valero and their friends are afraid of a candidate whose priorities include diversifying our tax base, promoting access to clean air and clean water and being a good neighbor at City Hall,” Birdseye wrote in an email to the Times-Herald.

The committee paid for a series of political phone calls to Benicians. A phone script was provided with the expenditure report given to the clerk’s office. It shows that if a respondent reported he/she may vote for Birdseye, the caller was to say that Birdseye is a “yes man for the mayor,” and not an independent thinker.

“I’m not sure if that phrase was meant to be a misogynistic slight but it is,” Birdseye wrote in her email. “I’m a woman, with a brain of my own. I’m nobody’s yes person. I will do my homework, listen to Benicians and make my own decisions based on what I think is best for our community.”

She also repudiated the claim that she isn’t an independent thinker.

“I’m a critical, strategic thinker with years of experience in management, finances and leadership,” she added. “I’m the last person who wants to give oxygen to the lie being spread about the Mayor and Vice Mayor building their shadow government, but if you look at the Vice Mayor’s voting record, he also is an independent thinker.”

The committee also bought digital advertisements to convince Benicia voters that Birdseye would be bad for the city.

Birdseye said Valero’s committee reminded her of when Chevron pumped millions of dollars in to the Richmond’s City Council race in 2014 — and lost.

“Outside influences are pouring more than $100,000 into our Benicia race, where all the candidate campaign money combined doesn’t equal that,” she said. “It is wrong, unfair and Benicia deserves better.”

Birdseye, Largaespada, Strawbridge, and Will Emes are all running for two open seats on the five-person Benicia City Council this fall. The two incumbents, Alan Schwartzman and Mark Hughes, have both declined to seek re-election to the council.