A Small-City Mayor Takes on a Massive Fight

Benicia Mayor Steve Young is working to blunt corporate money’s power in city politics and to curb misinformation filling the void left by gutted local media.

  •   PUBLISHED MAR 14, 2022 7:52 P.M.
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Valero Oil Refinery in Benicia

Valero Oil Refinery in Benicia   Downtowngal, via Wikimedia Commons   CC BY-SA 3.0

Los Angeles Times columnist Mark Z. Barabak tells the tale of Steve Young, mayor of the small North Bay Area city of Benicia, who is in a battle with the Valero Energy Corp. That company’s refinery is the town's biggest employer, and is responsible for “the two worst refinery accidents in the Bay Area in recent years,” Barabak reports. 

Young, 70, the former head of Sacramento’s Housing and Redevelopment Agency, retired to Benicia a decade ago. He has since worked his way from the city’s planning commission to city council to mayor, despite a well-funded disinformation campaign against him by the oil company.

“Young’s victory, and the deep-pocketed campaign against him, has placed him at the intersection of two of the more insidious trends in politics today: the flood of limitless money and the gutting of local news media, which has left a void too easily filled by propaganda and misinformation,” Barabak writes.

Read “A small-city mayor takes on massive fight” on LATimes.com.

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