OP-ED: Antioch Mayor offers his comments on the dismissal of city manager

By Dr. Sean Wright, Mayor of Antioch

The statement below represents my thoughts as Antioch’s mayor, not the city council’s.

Elections bring about change that inspires new direction, fresh philosophies and reenergized hope. Here in Antioch, the recent city council election stirred a renewed sense of civic passion among a community that wants to see things improve.  Volunteers are stepping up in greater numbers to serve on city commissions. Through phone calls, emails and meetings, more and more citizens are voicing their desire to help.  Our city has a phenomenal window of opportunity to take advantage of a growing economy, the expansion of eBart, and the completion of Highway 4. With this groundswell of community support behind us, I have never been more excited about Antioch’s future.

However, change often causes tensions to arise. Our electorate voted for change, and newly elected leaders such as myself pushed for change.  Quite simply, I feel the city manager failed to support us in our efforts. In fact, he was recently quoted in a newspaper article as saying that “They need to stay in their lane,” “they” referring to members of the city council. Such a statement, I believe, reflects our former city manager’s belief that the city council needs to follow his lead, when in fact, the manager serves at the pleasure of the city council.

It is not the role of a city manager to control city council. That is not the way the system is supposed to work. Citizens elect councilmembers to represent their interests in city hall, and councilmembers set the policies for the city. As an unelected “at will” employee, the city manager’s only duty is to implement those policies. When the manager begins establishing his own policies, he is the one who has strayed from his “lane.”

The bottom line here is that the city council and our former manager disagreed with the role a city manager should play. Even if the manager had acted in good faith in doing what he felt was required of his position, the law allows the elected city council to dismiss their appointed city manager. That’s what it means to serve at the pleasure of the city council and to be an “at will” employee.

I wish Mr. Duran all the luck in the world, and harbor no ill feelings toward him at all.

While the city council’s decision moves the city forward in a positive direction, unfortunately, there will be a short-term cost. However, I firmly believe that the long-term gains are worth it. Our citizens did not vote for the status quo—they demanded change. Right now, we are creating a cohesive team capable of working together to take advantage of the amazing opportunities in front of us. As a council, it’s our duty to move forward quickly so that Antioch can finally begin achieving its potential.

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7 Comments to “OP-ED: Antioch Mayor offers his comments on the dismissal of city manager”

  1. RJB says:

    Well said Mayor! I’m ready to see more of what’s to come….

  2. Fred Rouse says:

    YEP. Said and Done. Let’s move on now and get the mission accomplished.

  3. BB says:

    Ok. Now that you started a process let’s clean up our streets of the garbage. Have the businesses clean up in front of their establishments. Also when your new developers build and put stuff in maintain it. As you may see on your way to work at Taj city hall I would think you would see these 3rd world streets. It is only to bad you paid a quarter of a million up front for change.

  4. Richard Boyd says:

    Mayor Wright
    What plans do you have in mind regarding the half deserted shopping center (former Food Max) which now draws homeless and what about the County East Mall?. It is refreshing to see someone in office who is in touch with the city and has a business of his own. I will keep you in my prayers as you administrate.

    • Publisher says:

      Richard,
      Thank you for reading and for your comment and question to Mayor Wright.
      He actually mentioned that, last night at his and Mayor Pro Tem Thorpe’s listening forum on the new development area around Kaiser on Deer Valley Road.
      The owner of the property where the old FoodMaxx store was located, on Delta Fair Blvd., is looking at redeveloping it.
      Hopefully, soon we will know more about that.
      Allen Payton, Publisher.

  5. Loretta Sweatt says:

    I support the Mayor’s decision 100% and those who voted with him. I didn’t realize so many people were so unhappy with City Manager Duran, but apparently it was a lot!

  6. Allyson says:

    Whatever the mayor’s decision is, I believe it’s for the best! Hope you all the best!

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