Information on mystery candidate for Mayor of Antioch confirmed

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By Allen Payton

Julio Jesse Mendez. From LinkedIn.

The Herald confirmed this week, the information on who the mystery candidate for Mayor of Antioch, Julio Jesse Mendez, is. While his LinkedIn profile was found when he first pulled his Nomination Papers a couple weeks ago, it could not be confirmed that it was him since he lists himself as Julio Jesse M. and that he’s from the San Francisco Bay Area, not Antioch.

Under work experience, it shows Mendez has been a Saas (Software as a Service) Platform Sales Engineer for Conga in San Mateo since June 2018. Prior to that, from January to April 2018, he worked in SaaS Business Development for Spotlight powered by Customer Lobby in Berkeley. Before that, Mendez worked for Tesla in Livermore in Renewable Energy Channel Sales from 2015 to 2017. His other work experience includes financial services at Wells Fargo Bank and Northwestern Mutual.

Mendez earned a degree in Communication Studies with minors in business and leadership from the University of Rhode Island in 2007, was an honors graduate and a member of the Sigma Pi Fraternity.

When reached for comment and asked why he’s running Mendez said, “My passion is really to take the experiences I’ve had over the years. This isn’t directed at anyone specifically, but I sense in the world in general there’s a crisis in leadership. Community, accountability, looking out for your neighbor, that’s what I’m passionate about. Investing in our schools and education and investing in our businesses, the local backbone that hire and keep dollars circulating in Antioch. Those are two big things I’m hoping to drive forward the message on. The last piece, it’s definitely not last, is community, looking out for your neighbor.”

“We have a lot of energy from younger folks who say, ‘things aren’t right,’” he said. “But we have others who have been around for awhile and have information to give. I want people to take what they know and use it for the benefit of Antioch as a community.”

“I work from home, so I want to give back to my community,” Mendez added. “I’ll have more to share, soon.”

A resident of Antioch for over 10 years, he goes by Julio, but his family and friends call him Jesse or simply, “J”. Interesting fact, Mendez said he’s from the South and used to have an accent, and that his father named him Jesse after Jesse James.

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Publisher @ August 6, 2020

Protesters twice interrupt Antioch School Board special meeting on funding school resource officers

Posted in: News, Police & Crime, Education | Comments (0)

One of the six Antioch Police cars and the chalk messages on the outside of the Antioch Unified School District offices. Photos by Allen Payton.

Entered district headquarters building during public comments, police had to be called, pounded on doors; damaged building; almost knocked down oldest member of the board; board president injured – a felony against an elected official

Meeting postponed to Thursday night at 7:00 p.m.

Screenshot from YouTube video of protest outside the door to the lunchroom in the AUSD office building during the Antioch School Board meeting on Aug. 5, 2020.

By Allen Payton

Outside door to lunchroom inside the AUSD office building.

The Antioch School Board special meeting to vote on funding up to six school resource officers placing sworn Antioch Police officers on Antioch middle and high school campuses in the district, was interrupted twice by protesters. First, about 48 minutes into the meeting they were pounding on the walls and doors, then again, a short while later. (See meeting video on YouTube.) (See video of protest)

The protesters oppose the placing of police officers on Antioch school campuses and wrote in chalk on the sidewalk in front of the district office building “No SRO’s” and “Counselors”. The deadline for the City of Antioch to accept and receive the $750,000 three-year grant is this Sunday, August 9. (See related article)

Before the meeting, Trustee Mary Rocha was almost pushed to the ground as she walked into the building through the employee entrance on 6th Street, through the lunchroom. But someone grabbed her arm to keep her from falling. Board President Diane Gibson-Gray injured her arm on the door because the protesters wouldn’t let her in and she was moving quickly past a protester and district employee.

The protesters held on to the door and wouldn’t allow it to be closed. An AUSD employee tried the close the door but some of the 30 to 40 protesters (according to district staff and police estimates) were holding it and forced their way in.

“They damaged the building,” Superintendent Stephanie Anello said. “They dumped everything out of the fridge” including all the trays full of ice cubes and district employees’ food.

Inside door to lobby of AUSD office building and board room.

The employee then had to sit in a chair in front of the door from the lunchroom into the lobby to block the protesters from entering the rest of the building and the board room where Gibson-Gray, Rocha, Anello and Trustee Gary Hack held the meeting.

Trustees Crystal Sawyer-White and Ellie Householder participated in the meeting from their homes.

“One of these kids almost knocked me down,” Rocha said after the meeting. “I’m 81 years old. I was trying to get into the meeting. There were piles. Shagoofa (Khan) was right there. We had to shove and shove. This little, short, chunky girl was in front of me. They surrounded us.”

Shagoofa Khan ran unsuccessfully for Antioch School Board in 2018 in a team effort with Householder and the backing of Antioch Councilman Lamar Thorpe. Khan has been participating in several of the protests in Antioch, in the past few months, including the one at City Hall and during the Juneteenth Celebration.

“They came in, they were inside,” Rocha continued after the meeting. “They’re vandalizing the building. They’re right outside the door. I can’t even go home. The police are outside.”

“I’ve been through messes before with teacher strikes, but this is ridiculous,” she exclaimed.

“They blocked my car and after waiting and waiting, officers were trying to persuade the main person,” Board President Diane Gibson-Gray said. “But that wasn’t working. I asked an officer to give me a ride home and I had to go back later to get my car.”

“I didn’t feel threatened, but they weren’t going to let me leave and go home,” she added. “I will be filing a report, tomorrow because I injured my arm when trying to get past them and out the door, which they were blocking. I  hit my arm on the door jam because three or four protesters were blocking the door. When I went through one of the protesters started yelling at an employee, so I looked back. That’s when I banged my arm on the door jam because there was another protester blocking the entry. I was trying to not touch him and get in the door at the same time. Once I got past him, because of the momentum, I hit my arm on the door. There’s a pretty big bruise. It’s their insurance, not mine. There’s always caution when someone is hurt.”

“It is a felony to assault an elected official,” Gibson-Gray added. “

Seven Antioch Police Officers in the scene confer after the protesters had left.

At least seven Antioch Police officers arrived on the scene in six police cars.

But Antioch Police Chief T Brooks, who was participating in the online meeting from home said, “We’re not going to get into a violent confrontation with people over noise at a public meeting. I wish the building was more secure.”

“We don’t want to give them a chance to say we’re harassing them (the protesters),” Rocha said. “We don’t want to touch them. That’s why the police are out there but not doing anything.”

However, officers did have to escort Rocha to her car so she could drive home, in addition to driving Gibson-Gray home.

Meeting Begins

At the beginning of the meeting Superintendent Stephanie Anello presented the agenda item. Then before public comments Trustee Ellie Householder said, “Stephanie referenced a table and I wanted to be clear what she referenced.”

Board President Diane Gibson-Gray responded by reading the details from the staff report about the School Resource Officers in neighboring school districts.

Public Comments

The comments by members of the public, which included current students, school staff, parents were split on whether the school board approve the funding of the COPS grant for the SRO’s. Anello read the submitted comments.

Victoria Adams, President of East County Branch of the NAACP wrote, “The responsibilities of SRO’s are the same as regular police officers. The racial/demographic make-up of the Antioch Police Department does not match the racial/demographic make-up of the students in the Antioch Unified School District. Many of our young people don’t identify with members of the Antioch Police Department.”

She supported police officers at school sporting events and dances, but not on campuses.

Amber McKayla, a senior at Antioch High School wrote, “I’m part Hispanic and partially white, so I haven’t experienced discrimination. The only time police should be on Antioch campuses is in case of emergencies.”

Kyle Montgomery, who has worked for the school district for 13 years opposed police on campus who would be “negatively disproportionately affecting POC (people of color).”

Michelle Pareia, a resident of Antioch for 20 years and former student of AUSD schools opposed police officers on campus.

Kimberly Soriano, a counselor also opposed having the SRO’s on campus.

“Studies have shown the presence of SRO’s actually harms students…leads to declines in graduation rates,” wrote another member of the public.

Nick Culcasi wrote supporting the approval of accepting the grant.

Brandon Risoto wrote, “Will you listen to your community of students or Mayor Sean Wright and Lori Ogorchock who spoke non-stop of their privileged experience from decades ago?” He said 48 hours of training by the SRO’s was inadequate.

Jafar Kalani Bey wrote “SRO’s will be detrimental to the quality of education on campus.”

Mike Moses, a police officer who attended Antioch schools and an AUSD parent wrote, “it was the presence of police on campus that set me on the career path of a police officer. Get SRO’s back in the schools. SRO’s have changed many lives.”

“It would be nice to have more security

Jenny Dunlap, a teacher at Antioch High wrote, “With these SRO’s we can get rid of the private security contract. I support the approval of this measure.”

A parent of two students in Antioch schools wrote in support of SRO’s. “How can we use resource officers to bridge the gap of trust of some of those in the community.”

A recent graduate of an Antioch high school wrote in favor of SRO’s.

Lisa Borelli, whose son is a quarterback at Antioch High wrote “he’s scared to death to walk on campus” and mentioned “constant threats.”

Protesters Break into District Offices Interrupt Meeting

Damage to base of wall inside the lunchroom of the AUSD office building.

Gibson-Gray then said there would be a recess of the meeting.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Householder asked. “Hello?”

“Hello?” TSawyer-White said.

Gibson-Gray then said, “we’ve had a breach to our building. We have protesters in our building and we have to call police. Please stand by.”

When she returned to the meeting, Gibson-Gray said, “Thank you all for your patience.”

“Wait. This is trustee Householder. I just wanted to see if you could give me a recap,” Householder said.

“The recap is they breached the building,” Gibson-Gray responded. “I don’t know who they are. They were in T-shirts. I didn’t read their T-shirts. They were protesters. I don’t know who they are.”

Public Comments Resume

Victoria Williams wrote, “I’m a recent Deer Valley High School Graduate. I’m urging the board vote no on the SRO’s. SRO’s have historically contributed to the school to prison pipeline of students of color. Antioch youth and residents are speaking up in large numbers…you should listen.”

Courtney Wright wrote in support of the SRO’s. “Just a few months ago…there was a meeting…on safety at our schools,” she wrote. “I’m thankful for the grant the AUSD has received for counselors. We need to take action. Please vote yes for our community and our schools.”

DeAnna Gordon wrote, “Studies across the country have shown SRO’s don’t make schools safer. Students do not need to be policed at school.”

Emily Woodall wrote in opposition to school resource officers. “It’s my distinct opinion…SRO’s will criminalize students of color. Studies have shown those schools with SRO’s have three-and-a-half times more arrests than those schools without them.”

Michael Sagehorn wrote, it’s “an opportunity to increase safety on school campuses. We need more supportive adults on campus, not less.”

Antioch High School Site Safety Coordinator wrote, “I know it’s time to ask for more help. I’m in favor of an SRO in our schools.

Protesters Pound on District Building Doors Interrupt Meeting, Again

The cover was broken off of what appears is a thermostat in the lunchroom of the AUSD office building.

Householder then said, “I’m hearing a lot of noise and it’s getting pretty difficult to follow along.”

“The protesters are banging on the building,” Gibson-Gray said then asked Sawyer-White if she was able to hear.

“It sounds like someone’s breathing. They’re banging on the window?” Sawyer-White asked.

“Actually, they’re pounding on the door,” Gibson-Gray said.

Householder then reiterated she was having difficulty hearing. In response, Gibson-Gray then called for a 30-minute recess.

Gibson-Gray returned before 30 minutes and the sound of pounding on the doors could still be heard.

“I’m still hearing a lot of the same noise, though,” said Householder during the roll call of board members.

“I’d like to continue the meeting until tomorrow, if we have a quorum,” Gibson-Gray said. She then asked, “Trustee Sawyer-White, can you make noon?”

“I work,” responded Sawyer-White.

“Can you make 7 p.m.?” Gibson-Gray then asked.

“Yes,” Sawyer-White responded.

Gibson-Gray then asked the rest of the board members if they could also attend the 7:00 p.m. meeting, and they all confirmed.

“The protesters are in our lunchroom. They’re pounding on the door,” she said.

The meeting was adjourned to Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. when the remaining public comments will be read, and the board will deliberate and vote on the matter. It can be viewed on the district’s YouTube channel.


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Publisher @ August 5, 2020

Antioch political maneuvering continues: Thorpe, allies move to take over council

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Pulls out of council race, expected to run for mayor; Wilson to run for re-election;

Thorpe’s ally and employee pulls papers for District 3 council race;

Steffen withdraws from District 3 council race;

Another candidate pulls papers for Mayor;

Householder injects partisan politics into non-partisan mayor’s race

By Allen Payton

Video screenshot of Antioch Councilman Lamar Thorpe during a protest in Antioch on Sunday, June 7, 2020. From his Facebook page.

In what appears to be a coordinated effort, following the previous withdrawal of former Antioch Mayor Wade Harper, Antioch School Board Trustee Ellie Householder and Councilwoman Monica Wilson from the race for Mayor of Antioch, and the withdrawal of Councilman Lamar Thorpe from the District 3 city council race on Wednesday, it is expected he will instead run for mayor against Sean Wright.

In addition, in a comment by Householder, who qualified on Wednesday to run for City Clerk against Arne Simonsen, explained on her Facebook on Tuesday why she withdrew from the mayor’s race. “After meeting with local leaders, the reality is our community needs to rally around a Democratic candidate for mayor,” she wrote injecting partisan politics into a non-partisan race. “The last thing any of us want to be is a Ralph Nader…”

In addition, another ally of Householder, Wilson and Thorpe, who has been participating in some of the protests with Householder, this year including the one in front of the council members homes, Nicole Gardner, pulled papers to run for city council in District 3. She works as an administrative assistant at the Los Medanos Community Healthcare District in Pittsburg where Thorpe is executive director, and will challenge Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock who filed her papers, Antwon Webster who qualified and Marie Arce who also filed her papers all on Wednesday. Former Antioch Parks and Recreation Commissioner Wayne Steffen also withdrew from the District 3 council race on Wednesday.

Thorpe did not respond to attempts to reach him by text and phone call, asking if he’s running for mayor before publication time.

When reached for comment Antioch Board of Administrative Appeals Member Webster said, “I wish Nicole Gardner the best with her campaign. However, I am what Antioch needs. I represent genuine honesty and transparency for our residents. I’m for everyone, not just the homeless.”

When reached for comment Ogorchock responded, “This game of musical chairs is silly. I trust our voters to elect leaders who have all of Antioch’s interests at heart.”

Manny Soliz takes his oath of office as a candidate from City Clerk Arne Simonsen on Wed., Aug. 5, 2020. Photo by Mary Soliz.

Another candidate, Manuel Sidrian, took out his Nomination Papers on Wednesday to run for Mayor. It’s not clear if he is the son of the late Manuel Sidrian, Sr. whose family owns Little Manuel’s Restaurant on A Street in Antioch. The candidate, who is 45 years old, according to his Facebook page, wrote on Nikki Medoro – KGO Radio’s page on July 21, “The city of Antioch is going through the same thing I’ve been out and about work for housing program three month program to have the homeless come in the morning 6 in the morning for a couple hours a day to get him some kind of work ethic clean the front of businesses pick up around town in uniform so when that work the clothes to be washed and stuff and I’m going to get off work haven’t have a $20 voucher that they can’t use it any business that’s in the program and have him work towards getting a job within the three months so we could get him a Section 8 voucher and get him into a housing unit not it just put back on the street that’s a big problem that states doing and surface was going for not helping them then I’m not making them work ethic got to get him back on my feet and Kim’s are kind of work ethic and drug and alcohol abuse to get deal with later let’s get him in housing but we got to give him a job first that’s one of the platforming may be running on for mayor of Antioch.”

Finally, former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem and Councilman, and current Planning Commissioner Manny Soliz filed his papers to challenge current Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts in the District 1 council race. He is awaiting verification of his nomination signatures.

According to City Clerk Simonsen, the following Antioch residents have taken out Nomination Papers, Withdrawn, Filed or Qualified as of 5 p.m. August 5th, for the following City offices:


Sean Wright (I) – Qualified on 8/4/20

Julio Mendez – Qualified on 7/31/20

Rakesh Kumar Christian – Qualified on 7/22/20

Kenneth Turnage II

Monica Wilson – Withdrawn 8/4/20

Wade Harper – Withdrawn 7/31/20

Gabriel Makinano

Elizabeth Householder – Withdrawn 8/3/20

Manuel Sidrian

Council District 1

Joyann Motts – Qualified on 8/5/20

Manuel Soliz – Filed on 8/5/20 (awaiting signature verification)

Fernando Navarrete

La Donna Norman

Tamisha Walker

Council District 3

Lori Ogorchock – Filed on 8/5/20 (awaiting signature verification)

Lamar Thorpe – Withdrawn 8/5/20

Wayne Steffen – Withdrawn 8/5/20

Antwon Webster – Qualified on 8/5/20

Marie Arce – Filed on 8/5/20 (awaiting signature verification)

Nicole Gardner

Council District 4

Alex Astorga

Sandra White – Qualified on 8/3/20

Monica Wilson

City Clerk

Arne Simonsen (I) – Qualified on 8/4/20

Dwayne Eubanks

Ellie Householder – Qualified on 8/5/20

There were no changes in any of the other city or school board races. This list will be updated when additional registered Antioch voters take out Nomination Papers, withdraw or become Qualified for the various city or school board races. To see the latest list of candidates for all 10 races visit

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Publisher @ August 5, 2020

Antioch School Board to vote on helping fund up to six police officers on campuses Wednesday night

Posted in: News, Police & Crime, Education | Comments (0)

By Allen Payton

The Antioch School Board will hold a special meeting tonight, Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss and vote on helping the City of Antioch fund up to six sworn police officers who will serve as School Resource Officers and will work at the middle and high school campuses in the district. The deadline for accepting the grant is August 9, 2020.

The Antioch City Council voted 3-2, last Tuesday night July 28, to accept the $750,000 U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Grant funding over three years, with the condition the school board approve 50% in matching funds. Over 100 members of the public, including students in Antioch schools submitted public comments mostly opposed to the placement of police on school campuses. (See related article)

Two school board members, Crystal Sawyer-White and Ellie Householder, both submitted public comments during the council meeting also opposing the use of police officers on Antioch campuses. So, unless either or both change their minds, the decision to approve will be left up to the other three board members. Sawyer-White only wants police at high school sports events.

According to the district staff report, “If approved by AUSD, the City of Antioch will fund the remaining 50% not covered by grant funding. For the past 10 years, the Antioch Unified School District has been one of the only school districts in far East County without School Resources Officers (SROs).

The average cost to AUSD for each SRO is approximately $63,000. If the Board chooses to move forward with funding 50% of the six approved SROs, the cost to AUSD is approximately $378,000 per year for the first three years. Year four of the grant requires both agencies to pay a larger share (an increase of approximately $41,667 per SRO). However, this will be offset by funding that will carry-over from year one as a result of the time it will take to hire and train the officers.

For the past five school years, the District has hired a private security firm with two officers to serve during the school day. The average cost per year for the past five years is approximately $263,000. If the Board accepts the grant this evening, the funds used to contract with the private security firm to hire two officers will, instead, be utilized for six SROs.

Additionally, approximately $100,000 is currently budgeted within the District’s budget for various security costs that can be reallocated to offset the contribution by AUSD, resulting in minimal, if any, additional contribution from the general fund.

The Board can choose to fund 50% of all six officers at a cost of approximately $378,000 per year or can choose fewer officers at the following costs: 2 officers – $126,000; 3 officers – $189,000; 4 officers – $252,000; or 5 officers – $315,000.

Should the Board approve the cost sharing of SROs, District administration and the City would negotiate an MOU which would include, but not be limited to: parent input into hiring/selection of SROs, flexing of schedules to cover key nighttime events such as sports, etc.”

The school board meeting will be livestreamed and can be viewed on the AUSD YouTube channel.


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Publisher @ August 5, 2020

Supervisors close Orin Allen Youth Rehab Center, tentatively place half-cent sales tax increase on November ballot on split votes

Posted in: News, Politics & Elections, Contra Costa County, Pets & Animals, Sheriff-Coroner, Supervisors, Taxes | Comments (0)

D.A. Becton supports closure, Supes indicate backing Sheriff’s staffing request of 25 more deputies; keep Marsh Creek Detention Facility closed also on split vote

County will apply for $69 million in state Homekey Program funds for homeless sites in Richmond and Pittsburg

By Daniel Borsuk

Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility. Photo from website.

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday to close the once popular Orin Allen Rehabilitation Youth Rehabilitation Center in Byron. That signaled Sheriff David Livingston’s 2021-2022 budget request to hire 25 deputies will be approved when supervisors act on the county’s proposed $3.9 billion 2020-2021 budget on Sept. 15.

“Every department has taken some sort of reduction,” said County Administrator David Twa, in his presentation. “There are no additional furloughs or layoffs planned.”

In addition to closing the Orin Allen Rehabilitation Center, with Supervisors John Gioia of Richmond and Federal Glover of Pittsburg casting the two negative votes, supervisors acted to keep closed the now shuttered Marsh Creek Detention Facility on a 4-1 vote with Chair Candace Andersen vote against the motion.

In another action, supervisors placed a half-cent sales tax proposal on the November ballot with the caveat that unless the State legislature does not pass Senate Bill 1349 in the next 17 days, the supervisors will meet at a special meeting on Friday, August 21 to pull the ballot measure from the November ballot. SB 1349 would provide the $100,000 to print the ballots for the county.

Over a wave of citizen comments opposing any increased hiring at the Sheriff’s Office, Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond and Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg voted to keep the 60-year old Orin Allen Rehabilitation Youth Center open for at least another year so that a newly formed Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force by Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton can develop its findings .

“We have seen a lot of success at the ranch,” said Supervisor Glover. “We should think outside of the box. Ninety-nine percent of the graduates are probably successful today.”

But newly appointed Probation Department Officer Esa Ehmen Krause recommended that Orin Allen be closed, and 15 Probation Department positions be eliminated. She also recommended that the 15 youths currently housed at the facility be transferred to juvenile hall in Martinez

Krause said the decision to close the facility in far East County is tied to a declining population, better use of the existing Tamalpais Unit in Martinez, and $10 million to bring the ranch up to code.

With the average cost per incarcerated child in Contra Costa Juvenile Hall skyrocketing to over $473,000 a year, District Attorney Beckton said in a press release, “ The Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force will make explicit recommendations for financial investment in community-based services for youth instead of investing in youth prisons which have proven to result in worse outcomes for our children and families. Such an approach will aallow for critical re-investments in basic needs such as housing, mental health services, and workforce development as well as support and creation of alternatives to incarcerating children in locked facilities.”

The formation of the Reimagine Youth Justice Task Force did not sit well with several supervisors who viewed it as political intervention on the part of the District Attorney.  They felt the DA was intervening in a matter the board of supervisors should be in charge of.

DA Becton assigned her Assistant DA Venus Johnson to address the supervisors.

“I am concerned about the District Attorney’s support to close Orin Allen,” board chair Candace Andersen of Danville said.

“This is a slap in the face to probation to have this go out in a press release,” Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill said.

Throughout the 12-hour long supervisors meeting, supervisors heard from a steady stream of citizens opposed to increased funding for Sheriff Livingston’s department and heard from numerous speakers in support of keeping Orin Allen in operation.

Sheila Barnard questioned supervisors “Are you representing the best interest of our youth?”

“Do not increase funding for the sheriff,” demanded Rev. Leland Takhasi. “Look for alternatives to incarcerating our youth.”

“Because Orin Allen Ranch is an open-air environment absent of guard towers it allows the youth to change their lives, “said Walnut Creek resident Ron Brisco.

Vote 4-1 to Tentatively Place Half Cent Sales Tax Measure on November Ballot

In other action, supervisors voted 4-1 to place a half cent sales tax measure on the Nov. 3 ballot. Board Chair Andersen voted against the proposal without comment.

The tax measure is dependent on whether the California State Legislature passes Senate Bill 1349 and Gov. Gavin Newsome signs it by August 21.  If the legislation is not passed by the legislature and signed by the governor August 21, the supervisors will have to hold a special meeting on that date to withdraw the tax measure from the Nov. 3 ballot.

County Will Apply for $69 Million of State Homekey Program Funds for Homeless Sites in Richmond and Pittsburg

Supervisors also approved a resolution  authorizing County Administrator Twa to apply for and accept up to $68,776,000 in Homekey Program grant funds from the California Department of Housing and Community Development to be used to buy property located at 3150 Garrity Way in Richmond and property at 2101 Loveridge Road in Pittsburg to provide supportive housing and support services to persons experience homelessness.

Pinole Animal Shelter Closed, 3 Fewer Animal Control Officers, ConFire Revenue Down

In other budget items, supervisors learned from Animal Services Director Beth Ward that the under-utilized Pinole shelter was closed as of July 20. Two full-time positions were eliminated because of the closure.

Ward also reported that the number of animals at the Martinez facility is down considerably.  As of July 20, the shelter had 45 dogs and 34 cats compared to 176 dogs and 190 cats that were at the shelter on the same date in 2019.

The number of animal control officers has been cut from 13 to 10, Ward said. The length of stays for an animal has decreased 60 percent, she said.

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Chief Louis Brouchard III said EMS Fire Transport has experienced a “significant drop in revenue since March 17, 2020” because of COVID-19.

“The fiscal year 2020-2021 recommended budget anticipated $56 million in transport revenue,” he said.

In other action, supervisors voted to authorize the County Public Works Director to execute an amendment to the sublease with the State of California Employment Development Department to extend the term through January 31, 2023 for about 6,622 square feet of office space at 4071 Port Chicago Highway, Suite 250, Concord at a monthly rate of $13,112 as requested by the Employment and Human Services Department.

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Publisher @ August 5, 2020

Contra Costa Elections update: All voters will be mailed a ballot for November election

Posted in: News, Politics & Elections | Comments (0)

Change affects less than 25% of Contra Costa voters; polling places will be available

By Scott Konopasek, Assistant Registrar of Voters, Contra Costa County

For more than 560,000 vote-by-mail voters in Contra Costa County, voting will look the same as it always has. For the 160,000 voters who have not previously voted by mail, the November voting experience may be new.

To make sure these voters know they will receive a ballot in the mail and to help them successfully cast their votes, the Elections Division is reaching out with an informative direct mail piece this week. Voters who traditionally vote by mail will not receive the notification.

Voters receiving this mailing can update their signature on file by signing and returning the postage paid postcard.

According to Elections Office staff, there will also be approximately 120 polling places for those who want to vote in person. The locations have not been finalized as of  yet. Even the mandatory vote-by-mail precincts will have them, which they don’t usually do.

“While very few ballots are not counted because of unmatched signatures, we want voters to update their signature we have on file, if they believe their signature has changed.” said Debi Cooper, Clerk-Recorder-Registrar. “We want to be sure every ballot can be counted.”

Because ballots are mailed to a voter’s residence address, all voters should check their registration status and address on the County’s website or on the Secretary of State’s website to ensure they receive their ballot. Ballots are not forwardable.

Voters who wish to follow the status of their vote can track their ballot through the process by signing up for notifications at

Detailed information on the vote by mail process in Contra Costa County can be found at

“I voted” stickers will be included with every vote by mail ballot for this election and return postage is already paid. Voters may also return their ballots at ballot drop boxes located throughout the County.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Publisher @ August 5, 2020

OP-ED: Antioch School Board candidate writes “children need counselors, not cops” 

Posted in: Police & Crime, Opinion, Education | Comments (0)

By Antonio Hernandez

For years, our community has struggled with providing a safe, supportive learning experience for our students. This has resulted in a decline in enrollment in the Antioch Unified School District, as more parents have opted for private education, inter-district transfers, homeschooling and charter schools.

But when parents opt out of our local public schools, they are not protesting the great teachers at AUSD. They are saying no to a system that continues to overstretch staff resources. Within the last year, AUSD has cut counselors, teacher aids, college and career staff, librarians, custodians, bilingual aids, and much more. Most recently, AUSD cut 26 similar positions (totaling $1.8 million) from its budget.

Now, both the City of Antioch and AUSD are facing a tough question: whether or not to fund over $3 million to place six cops on our school campuses known as student resource officers (SRO). But is it really the right response?

It’s understandable that as a community we may feel that adding police to our schools will make our children safe. But cops on school campuses are not an effective solution, which is why schools throughout our country are moving away from this practice in favor of more holistic solutions.

A recent paper by the Brookings Institution found that increasing investments in SROs does not lead to safer schools. Instead, they found that academic achievement is a much stronger predictor of school safety. Another paper published in Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice found that students felt less safe in the presence of SROs.

Often by the time an SRO is involved in a student’s life, we have already failed them in a million different ways. More than two-thirds of children report experiencing at least one traumatic event by the time they reach the age of 16. Based on a 2018 survey of our students, a full 70 percent of 11th graders in Antioch identified with the statement, “I felt sad and down.” And according to the most recent Census statistics, 24.9 percent of AUSD students — more than 7,000 kids — are living below the poverty line.

It’s not hard to imagine how these factors can lead to trouble at school. Yet school incidents could be prevented with the right resources. For the same cost as the six SROs, we could hire around 20 counselors to staff nearly all of our schools. But our efforts don’t have to end there. By providing quality after-school programs, access to food and shelter, and a supportive community, we can begin to address the true underlying causes of student underachievement issues rather than just the symptoms.

When we invest in SROs over education, not only are we teaching our kids that we see them as violent and in need of policing, but we are ignoring the root of the problem. On the other hand, by addressing the basic needs of our students such as access to food, shelter, and mental health resources, we can dramatically improve not only the safety of the school, but student achievement as well.

By connecting troubled students with a trusted counselor, we can reduce their feelings of hopelessness. Kids could learn to express their anger in healthy ways as well as develop resilience to help them through traumatic events.

Too often, the lack of student resources and support leads to tragedy. How many more students does the community have to mourn before our city leaders can make bold, innovative decisions to address the equity issues at the heart of the challenge with school safety?

Cops are a band-aid solution to under-resourced schools, and a very poor one at that. We must resist the temptation of using our overstretched police department to solve our communities most complex problems, even if it makes us feel better.

Now more than ever, we need to let our leaders know this is not the way we want to solve this problem. Join in this conversation on my facebook page:

Hernandez has taken out Nomination Papers to run for Antioch School Board in District 1 to challenge Board President Diane Gibson-Gray.


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Publisher @ August 5, 2020

Wright qualifies for, Wilson withdraws from Antioch mayor’s race – but will she run for re-election?

Posted in: News, Politics & Elections | Comments (0)

City Clerk Arne Simonsen administers the oath of office as a candidate to Mayor Sean Wright as he files papers for re-election on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. Photo from the Wright for Mayor campaign.

Motts files for District 1 council seat, Simonsen qualifies for City Clerk, Barbanica qualifies for District 2 council contest

By Allen Payton

Screenshot of the post on Wilson’s city council Facebook page on July 18, 2020.

More political maneuvering occurred on Tuesday as Antioch Councilwoman Monica Wilson became the third candidate to withdraw from the race for Mayor of Antioch, while incumbent Mayor Sean Wright qualified to run for re-election, today becoming the third candidate to do so. However, it’s not clear if Wilson will be running for re-election to the city council in District 4 where she lives, as a July 18 post announcing it was removed from her council Facebook page.

UPDATE: In an email on Wednesday morning, Wright wrote, “Antioch Residents, So honored to turn in my official papers yesterday to file for re-election as your Mayor. We have many challenges ahead, including the effects of this pandemic on our community. This is a time where experience really matters. I am ready, with your support, to continue to move Antioch forward. Dr. Sean Wright – Antioch Mayor.”

Mayor Pro Tem Joyann Motts filed her papers for the District 1 council seat but, is awaiting the verification of her nomination signatures. Michael Barbanica qualified for the ballot for the District 2 council seat, making it a two-man race.

In an email on Tuesday afternoon, Barbanica wrote, “I filed my official paperwork today to become a candidate for Antioch City Council District 2 – NOT with a promise but with an accomplishment we’ve made to prevent noisy and dangerous sideshows in our city. This is the kind of leadership you can expect if I’m elected to the City Council. I would be honored to earn your support.”

In addition, City Clerk Arne Simonsen qualified to run for re-election while Antioch School Board Trustee Ellie Householder filed her papers to challenge him. But, like Motts, she awaits verification of her nomination signatures.

It might not be a surprise to some that Wilson changed her mind and decided to not run for mayor. Because on Saturday, July 18, 2020 she wrote on her council Facebook page that she was a candidate for City Council in District 4, just two days after Wilson took out her Nomination Papers to run for mayor.

“Re-elect Monica to Antioch CA City Council, District 4,” she wrote. “Running for Re-election in the new District 4, Monica is proud to represent Antioch CA and to serve the community since 2012.”

However, that post is no longer visible on her Facebook page and Wilson did not respond to a text at 9:02 pm Tuesday night asking if she is going to run for re-election in District 4 or not at all. Those questions will be answered over the next three days if she takes out and files papers for the city council race, as the deadline is this Friday, August 7 at 5:00 p.m.

According to the Tuesday report from City Clerk Arne Simonsen, the following Antioch residents have taken out Nomination Papers, Withdrawn, Filed or Qualified as of 5 p.m. August 4th, for the following City offices:


Sean Wright (I) – Qualified on 8/4/20

Julio Mendez – Qualified on 7/31/20

Rakesh Kumar Christian – Qualified on 7/22/20

Kenneth Turnage II

Monica Wilson – Withdrawn 8/4/20

Wade Harper – Withdrawn 7/31/20

Gabriel Makinano

Elizabeth Householder – Withdrawn 8/3/20

Council District 1

Joyann Motts – Filed on 8/4/20 (awaiting signature verification)

Manuel Soliz

Fernando Navarrete

La Donna Norman

Tamisha Walker

Council District 2

Tony Tiscareno – Qualified on 7/30/20

Michael Barbanica – Qualified on 8/4/20

Council District 4

Alex Astorga

Sandra White – Qualified on 8/3/20

City Clerk

Arne Simonsen (I) – Qualified on 8/4/20

Dwayne Eubanks

Ellie Householder – Filed on 8/4/20 (awaiting signature verification)

There were no changes in any of the other city or school board races. This list will be updated when additional registered Antioch voters take out Nomination Papers, withdraw, file or become qualified for the various city or school board races. To see the latest list of candidates for all 10 races visit

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Publisher @ August 4, 2020