It has been a busy week with the Chamber of Commerce forum, Planning Commission meeting, working all week at the Global Climate Action Summit and somehow, I found myself on social media reading mean-spirited, fact-less attacks. And then I receive this from Duane:
You are an impressive candidate Kari. Now go win.
Just when I needed it. Thanks Duane. I have an impressive team of supporters who will help me do just that; Jack and Maggie at the Farmers Market today, spreading the good word. Gary, Kathy and June knocking on doors with me this weekend. To the beautiful people I’ve never met, donating online, thank you. And all the wonderful Benicians who have placed yard signs and continue requesting them. The website continues to attract yard sign requests, endorsements and donations. Visit my How Can I Help page soon if you haven’t already. And leave me feedback on how you think I did so I can improve for the next forum hosted by League of Conservation Voters and AAUW on Wednesday, October 3rd, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Benicia Public Library. Please try to come and watch in person and show your support like a good number of you did this Wednesday.
Repost from the Benicia Herald [Note from Kari: Thank you to Nick at the Benicia Herald for his continued quality coverage of the 2018 election race. He includes a bit about my background here that may be news to you. Thanks to all of you for your support! Look for my campaign signs this weekend – and let us know if you want one in your yard. Best – Kari]
Candidate Spotlight: Planning Commission Chair Kari Birdseye sees council as next step
AUGUST 31, 2018 BY NICK SESTANOVICH
After three years on the Planning Commission, including a year and a half as its chair, Kari Birdseye is ready to continue serving the city in a bigger way, hence why she is running for the City Council.
“(It’s) the natural next step in my service to Benicia,” she said.
Birdseye received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from San Francisco State and spent 11 years working in Atlanta as a producer for CNN, where she was part of a team that won an Emmy for covering the Centennial Park bombing at the 1996 Olympics. In between the birth of her daughter Julia and her son Joey, Birdseye moved her family to Benicia in 2000. Julia is now a freshman at SF State, and Joey is a junior at Benicia High School.
Upon returning to California, she began working with the Wine Institute, a San Francisco-based trade association of California wineries where she helped develop the Code of Sustainable Wine Growing practices.
“It’s a workbook that puts together all the best practices in the vineyards and the wineries, and it teaches folks to evaluate themselves through this workbook,” she said. “It allows them to become more environmentally sound and lessen their footprint.”
Birdseye went back to school and got a master’s degree in environmental management and became an agricultural sustainability consultant. She became a press secretary for the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice and is currently the strategic communications manager for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Throughout her time in Benicia, Birdseye has been involved in volunteering and civic engagement. When her children were attending Matthew Turner Elementary School, she served on the Parent Teachers Association board and volunteered in the classroom and for annual fundraising events. When her children reached the middle school level, Birdseye served on the board for the Benicia Stingrays swim team, including a stint as president. From here, she began serving on the Human Services Board which helps administer grants the city gives to nonprofit organizations.
“I got to learn a lot about our small town through that work,” she said.
In 2015, Birdseye applied to the Planning Commission to put her environmental and planning background to work while serving her community. In 2017, she was appointed to chair following the retirement of Donald Dean.
“It’s been very rewarding,” she said. “I have a background in working in environmental impact reports and doing environmental work, so I find that a good fit for me and very valuable.”
Since announcing her campaign, Birdseye has been going door to door to talk to residents about their concerns. One issue she said came up a lot was the City Council’s 2012 decision to adopt new water and sewer rate increases due to aging infrastructures after a six-year hold, resulting in households paying more for water usage. Birdseye said she understood the council’s reasoning but felt it could have been communicated better.
“I do think addressing the historic, crumbling infrastructure that our city had in delivering our water was the right thing to do,” she said. “I think it could have been handled differently, and I pledge to communicate and better inform our community ahead of big issues like that.”
In regards to an Industrial Safety Ordinance debate, Birdseye said she supports installing air quality monitors throughout Benicia and having the council look into a draft ordinance.
“I think the city needs to take steps to have a partnership with Valero to ensure that Valero is the best neighbor it can be,” she said. “The intention of the draft ordinance is a good one, and I think it needs to be reviewed by City Council.”
A top priority for Birdseye is having the city diversify its tax base, especially in the Industrial Park.
“Our Industrial Park is a jewel, and it should be more than just warehouses,” she said. “We should be bringing exciting, wonderful companies to our Industrial Park that help us stay a full-service city.”
Other major goals for Birdseye include maintaining Benicia’s small-town and historic feel, ensuring access to clean air and water and “being a good neighbor at City Hall.”
“What that means is always being a good listener to our residents, making City Council meetings a friendly place to be and having a discussion with our community around the big issues that face us all here,” she said. “I think, at the Planning Commission level, I’ve done a good job at having rich discussions with our community members about permitting processes and different issues that come before the Planning Commission, and I intend to do the same thing on the City Council if I’m elected.”
Birdseye’s opponents in the City Council race are retired carpenter William Emes, Economic Development Chair Lionel Largaespada and former Councilmember Christina Strawbridge. The top two vote-getters will serve on the council with the candidate getting the most votes earning the title of vice mayor. The election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
the oldest Democratic club in our county – the United Democrats of Southern Solano
I’m honored and humbled to receive the support of these prestigious leaders and groups, as well all of the people I’ve met as I knock on doors, getting out the vote.
This week, I also attended the Taste of First Street event on Tuesday, where I wore my candidate badge and received all kinds of great feedback. Most commonly, I heard “Thanks for running.”
Friday night, we wrapped up our Bocce Ball League season and while playing my last game of the night, I answered questions from a
baller from the other team. “What about the water rates?” My response: “The rate hikes were tough on my family too, but our City is doing the right thing by updating our infrastructure to ensure access to clean water for all.” “How are you going to help keep our town fiscally
solvent?” “By attracting new businesses that make sense for our community.” This went on the entire game. At the end of the game, he said “You are tough. You have my vote.” Even though we lost the game, I felt like I had won.
I love this town and I’m happy to serve if Benicians elect me. In the meantime, I’m having fun campaigning, meeting people and sharing the vision I have for our great town.
Kari Birdseye, chair of the Benicia Planning Commission and a candidate in the City Council election, garnered four endorsements over the last two weeks, including one from Benicia’s representative in Congress, Rep. Mike Thompson.
“I’ve endorsed Kari because she shares our vision of serving the community to make Benicia the best that it can be,” Thompson said in a statement.
Thompson, who has served in Congress since 1999, also endorsed former Councilmember Christina Strawbridge in the same race.
Coming off an endorsement from the Progressive Democrats of Benicia nearly two weeks ago, Birdseye also received two additional endorsements from the Solano County Democratic Central Committee (SCDCC) and the United Democrats of Southern Solano County (UDSSC).
The SCDCC, the endorsing body of the Democratic Party in Solano County under the general direction of the California Democratic Party, endorsed Birdseye at its Wednesday meeting.
“The Solano County Democratic Central Committee is proud to endorse Kari Birdseye, who exemplifies the Democratic values that our country needs at the local level,” SCDCC Chair Bridgett Hunley said in a statement.
The UDSCC, the oldest Democratic Club in Solano County and focuses on grassroots Democracy and community empowerment, also voted to endorse Birdseye.
“Our members are from Vallejo and Benicia and they voted to support Kari because she clearly articulated her vision for Benicia, which includes community air monitoring,” UDSCC President Stephen Hallett said in a statement. “Clean air makes sense for both Benicia and Vallejo.”
Birdseye gets nod from Progressive Dems of Benicia
By Times-Herald staff report, 08/15/18, 4:55 PM PDT
BENICIA >> The Progressive Democrats of Benicia have endorsed Kari Birdseye in her bid for a seat on the Benicia City Council.
The group’s membership voted on the endorsement during a membership meeting Tuesday night.
Birdseye is current chair of the city’s Planning Commission.
Fellow candidate and former Councilwoman Christina Strawbridge failed to secure the endorsement of the Progressive Democrats, group officials said.
Strawbridge, who served on the council from 2011 to 2016, is also a member of the Progressive Democrats of Benicia.
Two seats are open on the Benicia City Council this fall. Incumbents Mark Hughes and Alan Schwartzman are leaving the council after their terms end this year. Current Economic Development Board Chair Lionel Largaespada is also a candidate for a council seat.
Members further endorsed Dana Dean for the Solano County Board of Education Trustee Area 3. Dean was the only person to pull and submit candidacy paperwork prior to the Aug. 10 deadline. Thus, her contest was removed from the ballot and she was automatically re-elected to a new four-year term.
Kari Birdseye for City Council, and Dana Dean for Solano County Board of Education
At its August 14 membership meeting, the Progressive Democrats of Benicia interviewed Democratic candidates for Benicia City Council and Solano County School Board. Ballots were cast, and today were made public.
Only one of two declared Democratic candidates for City Council received a majority vote earning endorsement: Kari Birdseye. The Progressive Democrats of Benicia are proud to endorse Planning Commission chair Birdseye. Find out more about Kari and offer your support at her campaign website, BirdseyeForBenicia.com, and be in touch on her Facebook page.
. . .
Also interviewed was candidate for Solano County School Board Dana Dean. Dana is unopposed in her bid for re-election, and was also endorsed by a majority of Progressive Democrats at last night’s meeting. In her presentation, she declared victory, as no other candidate has filed to run against her. Find out more about Dana at her campaign website, danadeanforboardofeducation.com and be in touch on her Facebook page.