Thousand Friends of Martinez Endorses Mike Barbanica
for County Supervisor in the
March 5 Election Primary

Antioch Councilmember Mike Barbanica is head and shoulders above the other candidates for District 5 County Supervisor.  He’s better on the issues, he loves parks and open space, and he’ll defend ridgelines and the urban limit line. He has concrete plans for addressing Martinez’ current oil refinery challenges. He’s accessible and eager to learn, and he fully participated in our endorsement process, answering a questionnaire a week before the deadline and participating in our Feb. 6 Candidates Forum.  As both a former Pittsburg policeman and current small business owner, Mike will make homeless and safety issues a high priority. In addition to our endorsement, Thousand Friends also agreed to make a $1,000 contribution to Mike’s campaign.

Mike is:

·         Strong on protecting quality-of-life issues, such as local open space and parks, historic features and well-planned housing projects.

·         Actively working with the refinery to demand better operations and ensure public health.

·         Solid on public safety and finding solutions to homelessness.

·         Accessible to the public (as stated on his questionnaire: “I currently have and will continue an open door policy”) and believes in government transparency.

It was an easy choice, after a robust discussion. Some of us have followed all three of these candidates’ records in their cities for years.

Pittsburg councilmembers Jelani Killings and Shanelle Scales-Preston, the other candidates, are weak on environmental issues and inaccessible to the public. Killings and Scales-Preston have both disqualified themselves in our opinion with their pro-development record in Pittsburg. Despite claiming to be open and accessible, that’s not our experience.

Thousand Friends was organized in 2015 as a political action committee with the number one goal of supporting better candidates to represent the public rather than just big-moneyed interests. This is our 5th election cycle. Thousand Friends of Martinez helps elect conscientious representatives; promotes open government; quality of life, parks, open spaces, and historic elements.

There are four candidates to replace retiring Supervisor Federal Glover but only two have a shot based on campaign fundraising and endorsements, Antioch councilmember Mike Barbanica and Pittsburg councilmember Shanelle Scales-Preston. Pittsburg councilmember Jelani Killings has almost no funding and Pittsburg resident Iztaccuauhtli “White Eagle” Hector Gonzalez has reported no campaign funds at all.  You can read more about each at www.mikebarbanica.com , www.shanelle4supervisor.org , www.jelanikillings.com , and www.whiteeagle.info

District 5 runs along the Contra Costa northern waterfront from Hercules to Martinez to Pittsburg and a part of Antioch. If any candidate gets more than 50% in the March primary, they’re elected. With four candidates there will almost certainly be a runoff in the November election. Because Martinez voter turnout is generally high Martinez will play a significant role in who gets elected.

Federal Glover made the Northern Waterfront an issue, where various industrial uses have declined over the years but there are robust transportation options from water, road and rail. The county and cities have been coordinating on economic development goals although progress has been limited and there’s a constant pressure to turn these partly vacant areas into housing. In our questionnaire and at the forum, Barbanica made clear that the Northern Waterfront is also affected by sea level rise and climate change, and that economic development must be balanced with park and resource goals.

Candidates get their message out with campaign funding. In Contra Costa, at the city and county level, there are about five sources of major funding other than the public and the candidates themselves: developers, refineries, garbage companies, public employee unions and building trades unions. Unions also put boots on the ground for grassroots organizing. Craig Lazzaretti does a valuable service in his Martinez News and Views by reporting on Martinez issues. You can read about campaign finances there in the “Candidate Races” section. https://martineznewsandviews.substack.com/p/a-look-at-what-martinez-voters-will .

Thousand Friends’ goal is to compete with the usual campaign stakeholders by encouraging good candidates to run, sponsoring public candidate forums, and providing ongoing education on candidates and issues year-round rather than just in the six weeks before elections when your mailbox gets flooded. And by encouraging public discussion on many issues rather than just the two or three hot button issues the campaigns will include.  

Martinez residents have worked for decades to protect our surrounding ridges and open space. But the County controls land use in surrounding unincorporated areas in Pacheco, the Mountain View and Vine Hill neighborhoods, the Alhambra Valley south to Briones, and west to Hercules. We’ve been protected by the Urban Limit Line but it expires (or gets renewed) in two years in 2026. The new County Supervisor will have a big role in what happens in those areas.  Do developers run the show, or residents? Mike Barbanica is supported by public safety unions but has been independent of development interests and refineries.

How have Pittsburg councilmembers Jelani Killings and Shanelle Scales-Preston disqualified themselves with their pro-development record? Twice in the past four years they’ve both approved the Seeno companies/Discovery Builders controversial Faria project, 1500 units on 600 acres on the Los Medanos ridgeline overlooking Concord and adjacent to the brand-new Thurgood Marshall Regional Park (formerly part of the Concord Naval Weapons Station). They claim they made the project better but it’s not true. Although elected officials often improve as they rise to higher office, Killings and Scales-Preston haven’t shown much ability to balance competing interests to create compromises.

We’ll write more about the issues in coming months. 

Mike Barbanica is pro-open space and loves Contra Costa’s green hills. He’s pledged to protect our ridgelines. He’s publicly supported these positions in Antioch. Thousand Friends of Martinez endorses Mike Barbanica for Contra Costa County Supervisor, District 5 in the March 5 primary. We urge you to support him too. 

Vote for Measure C

Measure C is a renewal of a longstanding parcel tax that has provided locally controlled funds for the Martinez Unified School District.This funding helps Martinez retain quality teachers and counselors, protect art and music programs, and support academic programs in science, technology, and engineering that enable students to compete for the best colleges and careers.

In our view, this funds from the parcel tax have been effectively used and are of benefit to the students of the district.  Measure C would renew the tax for an additional eight years for $75 a parcel with an $850,000 annual contribution to the district’s funds. We encourage voters to support the continuation of this valuable source of funding for local schools.  This is money that is controlled locally and cannot be taken away by the state.  The school board has put together a factsheet with more information here.

Candidate Forum for Supervisor

Tuesday February 6th 7pm

On Tuesday February 6th, Thousand Friends of Martinez will be hosting a Candidates Forum at the VFW Hall. This is your chance to get know who is running for County Supervisor to replace Federal Glover. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the event starts at 7:00 pm. There will be light snacks plus an enlightening event.  

If you can’t attend in person, we have some options:

Friends Fest

It was a fine autumn Sunday afternoon September 24, 2023 at Roxx on Main where the supporters of Thousand Friends of Martinez gathered to renew old friendships, make new friends and just as importantly – keep working toward a better Martinez. With food, drink and music, the event was a great success.  125 people attended. We set several goals for the first annual event and exceeded all of them, including at least 100 guests and netting more than $5000 in our first time effort. Funds will support our efforts including to support good candidates for city council and other elected offices.

Air quality had been a little threatening, but the day was sunny and clear. There were short presentations by Mayor Brianne Zorn, East Bay Regional Park District Director Colin Coffey and Thousand Friends Co-Chair Seth Adams, who highlighted the focus of the group. 

We are here to promote open, transparent government and to support environmentally conscious leadership in the Martinez area.  Defending open space, wetlands, parks and historical elements are a key aim of our organization.

We would especially like to thank Steering Committee member Kay Cox for organizing the event and Pete Sabine for managing social media.

Our Event Committee: Kay Cox, Sherida Bush and Jane Moore

Volunteers: Ryan Aston, Lauren Cox, Kate Pearson, Brian Walker, Gigi Walker

Hosts: Seth Adams, Dan Barrows, Tina Batt and Sherida Bush, Kay Cox, Jennifer Pearson, Tim Platt, Pete Sabine, Harlan Strickland, Mark Thomson, Carol Wiley

Our Overwhelmingly Wonderful Venue Host : Leslie Stiles and Roxx on Main

The UnConcord and our own Mark Thomson for providing great music.

Our Wine donors – Tod Kilbourn and Nancy McMorrow, Jim & Bette Felton

Refinery Issues
Update from Mayor Brianne Zorn

At last week’s meeting, the City Council passed a resolution Urging the Martinez Refining Company (MRC) to Comply with Regional Air Emission Standards. This was prompted by the efforts of Healthy Martinez, a local activist group that formed following the spent catalyst release one year ago. The Martinez Refining Company attended the meeting with an update on plans to improve their process safety. They plan to update the Council every other month.

Click the button to read more about the plans going forward including community communications, monitoring stations and more.

Naming the new park at Pine Meadow

Choosing a recommended name for this new City park at Pine Meadow was the subject of the Park, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission (PRMCC) meeting on Tuesday, October 17.  Several names were discussed from the ones suggested by the public during the name application period.  The discussion was detailed and illuminating. 

Find out more details and proposed park names by clicking the buttons.

Who should make land use decisions – local or state government?

There is growing sentiment around the state, shared by city and county officials as well as average citizens, for a state initiative to take local land use decision making back from Sacramento. Passage of the initiative would be a major step with many consequences affecting cities and counties around the state far into the future, much like Prop 13 continues to affect us today. Thousand Friends has not taken a position on the idea, but Thousand Friends would very much like to hear your thoughts.

Briones Pilot Project

The East Bay Regional Park District has launched a two year pilot project at Briones Park to test trail management strategies. This project was created to better accommodate the increase in number of visitors at the park district.  The Briones Pilot Project establishes specific rules limiting trail use, such as hiking only, biking only, or biking/hiking only and direction of travel. Although the Park District is seeking to open new parks and provide more trails to reduce crowding on trails, the trail development process takes time. The pilot project will test some new ways to safely share trails and improve the trail experience for all users while protecting habitat, wildlife, and watersheds.

The Mission of Thousand Friends of Martinez is to provide a stable organization which will work with residents to elect informed, conscientious representatives; promote open government; enhance our quality of life by creating a livable city; defend our parks and open spaces, and; conserve natural areas and historic elements in the greater Martinez region.

Our Geographic Focus is: The greater Martinez region, including the city and unincorporated areas, the Briones Bioregion and significant watershed lands.

Our Objectives are to:

  • Endorse, support and fund responsible and environmentally supportive leaders
  • Promote transparent government
  • Promote better land use planning and the development of policies for the public benefit
  • Defend parks, creeks, wetlands, open space and historic elements
  • Support budgeting, ballot measures and funding for these purposes
  • Educate the public about these objectives and strategies