By TRINA BERNAL
Christina S Fashion Destination Shoppe owner Christina Strawbridge is rerunning for City Council; She first worked on the Council from 2011-2016. Influenced by her mother and her mother, she is not a stranger to the finer things in life. In her regular day-to-day occupation, Strawbridge cares for her store clients, manages finances, and uses European influences in her designs. This translates into her candidacy for the Council because she is well-versed in the economic development of running a small town. Strawbridge’s current candidate statement reads that she “understands the importance of economic development to generate revenue in order to retain services that Benicians have come to expect and rely on.”
As the present owner and creator of Christina S Fashion Destination in downtown, Strawbridge has been involved with Benicia for many years. As an experienced business owner, she assisted in the creation of the Farmer’s Market and the Waterfront Festival. But that didn’t at all affect the efficiency of Christina S. This shows Strawbridge’s commitment and determination to reach her goals in a linear fashion. Strawbridge is proud of the weekly attendance of 3,000 people for Farmer’s Market from the spring to fall season.
Not only does Strawbridge involve herself in the business aspect of our community, but she also has a lot of background for nonprofits. She assists in the annual events for the Community Action Council (CAC), which is a community-funded council that aids in the employment of low-income teens and the lives of seniors at nursing homes. Also, the two state parks in Solano Community –our Benicia Industrial State Park and Benicia Capitol State Historic Park— had Strawbridge’s support for the park reservation. Strawbridge has been in three boards, Benicia State Parks Association (maintenance of state parks), Benicia Main Street (Downtown), and Benicia Old Town Theatre Group ( a group dedicated to all things-production like set-building, acting, and directing).
Strawbridge isn’t forgetting about us high school students either. Currently, our nation is in a state of high alert and wariness because of the school shootings and privacy issues this year. Relating it to Strawbridge’s safety promise, she emphasized, “Every candidate/council member is obligated to make the city as safe as possible. We have an excellent police department and fire department dedicated to their jobs.” Strawbridge is definitely concerned for the safety of our schools and wants all students to continue learning without feeling scared. Her statement? To keep proactivity strong in these safety agencies.
With all the campaigning necessary to maintain Strawbridge’s public image, it can be hard to balance it with work. There are about three council meetings a month that Strawbridge’s attendance is mandatory at. She admits that it’s a time commitment but is also fortunate to have a great staff to aid her. Management isn’t required in the Christina S store everyday, so the work-aspect is not too difficult. But to maintain composure and a good mental health, she has her two dogs as well as her neighbors. Upon visiting the rest of Benicia neighborhood, it’s also been very encouraging, “It’s good to hear their support. You do put yourself out there to be criticized. And there’s a lot of untruth you can’t respond to.” Strawbridge likens the inevitable and current gossip to a full-time job.
And in response to Push Polls, or the Valero-sponsored survey highlighting small business owners to the expense of fellow council members Kari Birdseye and Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, Strawbridge states that “Valero and labor unions are reacting but not in a good way.” Strawbridge doesn’t think Benicia should be defined by negative advertising, like through Push Polls. On the contrary, Valero Vice President and General Manager state that Valero accounts for a big portion “nearly a quarter” for the City’s general fund revenues. Strawbridge acknowledges how Valero is the largest employer, “They do account for our overall budget.”
Christina Strawbridge, however, definitely has an elevated voice for small businesses, as well as being a sort of “champion for the downtown.” Strawbridge addresses how First Street/Downtown can only contribute a little bit but are also the “front-room” of the city. Downtown Benicia is the first place you’d bring your out-of-city family members or friends to, after all. If Strawbridge is picked she will use her experience to bring a better future for Benicia.