Obviously, Jerry and Maryellen Hayes would have to be on any list of couples dedicated to the town of Benicia. Former Mayor, Jerry Hayes has served this City for many, many years. He served on the Planning Commission from 1990-1992. He was elected to the Benicia City Council in 1992 and finally elected to Mayor in 1996-2000.

While serving as Mayor, he represented the City on many Boards and Commissions, regionally. These included the Solano Transportation Authority and Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).

Since Jerry left office in 2000, his service to Benicia has continued. He has been involved with the Benicia Library, Benicia Historical Museum at the Camel Barns, Benicia Main Street, League of Women Voters, and the Benicia Historical Society, of which he is the current president.

Mayor Hayes owned Hayes Supply in Vallejo for 41 years and had a Benicia branch for 3 years, where the Camellia Tea Room operates today.

Maryellen Hayes is not only the owner of the Camellia Tea Room with her daughter Casey, she is one of the most politically astute people in Benicia. If you ever need some advice about Benicia politics, she is the person to talk to. She once gave me some sound advice, when my wife, Christina Strawbridge, ran for City Council in 2011. Maryellen told me that Christina had a chance of winning if I would keep my mouth shut! Obviously, that advice worked because she won elections in 2011 and 2018.

The Camellia Tea Room is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in July. It is well known for its extensive choices of teas and amazing lunches. People love to lunch at the Camellia Tea Room with their family and friends, for special occasions or simply to enjoy each other’s company over a good cup of tea. Since opening in 1995, the Camellia Tea Room has hosted the popular Teddy Bear Teas, a holiday tradition for generations of families that benefits Benicia Main Street. The Tea Room also sponsors the Bewitching Teas in October and the Spring Teas in March, with proceeds helping Benicia Soroptimist and their efforts with domestic violence and the establishment of a safe house in Benicia.

While dining at the Camellia Tea Room you may run into regulars, like Council Member Tom Campbell and his wife Kerry Carney, along with Heather McLaughlin, the former City Attorney.

My family has known the Hayes’ for 30 plus years and consider them good friends. They have 3 daughters: Casey and Beth, who are involved with the operations of the Tea Room, and Patty, who works as a communication specialist in Fairfield. Jerry and Maryellen have been married over 56 years and have 8 grandchildren.

Thank you, Jerry and Maryellen, for all that you have brought to Benicia and its residents. You both set the example of commitment.