Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Op-Ed: Why I oppose Proposition 55

Friday, October 21st, 2016

By Fernando Navarro

Last week I was “taken to task” by a member of the Antioch Education Association (AEA), the local teachers’ union, for voting against a resolution supporting passage of Proposition 55.  What does Proposition 55 do?  It extends for another 12 years what was promised to be a temporary income tax increase targeting ‘high-income’ Californians.  While the commercials hitting the airways, and the statement made by my protagonist at our last board meeting, claim it will benefit our kids, the passage of the measure will really benefit the teachers’ union…to the detriment of our kids.  That’s why I stand firm in my vote against the resolution supporting it.

The California Teachers Association (CTA) is pumping millions of dollars into support of the passage of Proposition 55.  Over half of state revenues already go to education…but to the powerful CTA, and local teachers’ unions, that will never be enough.  They will always want more…dissatisfied with the step wage increases built into their salary tables, they want additional raises and additional benefits…which of course means more money into union coffers.

The problems in our schools are not because of a lack of funding.  They exist because of failed policies, backed by the CTA, AEA, and others.  Just last month, the editorial board of the San Diego Union Tribune explained in an op-ed article why providing additional revenues to schools amounts to continuing to shore up a failed, ‘status-quo.’  It amounts to continued support for extreme job protection policies that make it virtually impossible to fire bad teachers.  It amounts to the continued failure to educate our poorest, most vulnerable students, and ensures the achievement gap that exists for students of color will continue.

Indeed, if money were the answer, the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) would be a beacon for students.  AUSD receives almost a quarter of a billion dollars to educate the approximately 16,000 students in the district.  Over the three school years 2012-2013 to 2014-2015 alone, according to Ed-Data, General Fund revenues increased from $131 million to $162 million, at a time when the student population was decreasing.

This amounted to a jump from $7638 per student (based on average daily attendance) to $9600 per student…an increase of 24%!  What have we gotten in return?  The percentage of students graduating ready to attend a California State school increased from 31.6% to 32.2%…virtually no change.  The statistics are even worse for our most vulnerable students.  The percentage of English Language Learner students reclassified as Fluent/Proficient actually dropped over this time, from an already poor 9.8% to an absolutely dismal 7.3%.  Currently, only 10% of African-American students test even basically proficient in math.

Don’t be fooled.  This measure is a classic ‘bait and switch.’  The education system in California is broken, in no small part because of policies backed by powerful union interests that are about their members…not your children.  I’ll be voting ‘no’ on Proposition 55.

Navarro is an Appointed Trustee on the Antioch School Board and is running for a full-term in the November election.

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Three fourth-generation Antioch residents write to support Turnage for Council

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

Dear Editor,

As fourth-generation Antioch residents, we would like to share why we are supporting and voting for Ken Turnage II for Antioch City Council.

We have had to watch our home town become plagued with crime, our neighborhoods overrun with blight, businesses closing all around us and a general feeling of not being safe.

We are unable to get the help we need because of a lack of city services, a shortage of police officers and any interest from our current city council members.

We can see hope in Ken Turnage.  He was raised in Antioch, owns and operates a local construction company that he worked at as a young kid.  He learned from the bottom up and has made it a successful business.  He has given his time, money and hard work in many aspects to help build up and support Antioch.  We have seen him at the city council meetings always taking an interest in what is happening with our city and always willing to help.  For this, he was named Citizen of the Year 2015.  He is raising his young family here so has a vested interest in our community.

Ken always has a smile on his face, pleasant to talk to and listens to other points of view keeping an open mind.  His campaign has been positive and supportive of other candidates and without any negative comments.

It is time to move out of the past. Let’s put in new city council members from top to bottom who have bright, new innovative ideas.

This is what we want for Antioch.  We may not get the good ‘ol days back again but the days to come can be much better.

Thank You.

Verne Roberts

Peggy (Lawrence) Roberts

Susan (Jenkins) Williams


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Former Chamber staffer writes of how Sean Wright changed her mind about Antioch’s future

Thursday, October 20th, 2016


I have lived in Antioch since 1968. Although I am not a political person, I worked for the Antioch Daily Ledger for many many years. Working at the Ledger surrounded me with the news of the day and Antioch’s triumphs and missteps. Over the years, I formed an opinion that Antioch as a city, had missed too many opportunities and any opportunity for greatness. I loved my town, but I just felt that opportunities for Antioch were limited…until I went to work at the Antioch Chamber of Commerce.

I worked for Sean at the Antioch Chamber of Commerce from April, 2015 until April, 2016.

Sean changed my mind.

I had the opportunity to hear him speak on several occasions and to just talk with him about Antioch a few times in the office. He spoke with such vision and enthusiasm that I began to see that Antioch’s future is not limited by the past. Sean believes in the greatness of our town, he sees the good, he’s been working for years with business owners, educators and leaders for the good of Antioch.

I began to see Antioch through his eyes and it really changed the way I see my town.

I have already voted (absentee) and I absolutely voted for Sean Wright.

I would encourage you to visit his FB page and his website  and hear what he has to say.

Sean is not a politician looking for a stepping stone to what’s next. He’s a visionary without a personal political agenda. Sean has an Antioch agenda.

Thank you.

Janet Dossey


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Murillo writes to explain his support for Wright for Mayor of Antioch

Thursday, October 20th, 2016


As we come to the stretch of this election, we as a community must think who brings our values to City Hall.

I ran my campaign literally and the reason why I suspended it was simple, folks. I knew from the polling numbers that I could not get to the winner’s circle.  When I announced my suspension, it was very difficult but I realized that I was taking from the only candidate that I didn’t want to take from. That is Sean Wright. I feared what happened in 2012 would happen again in 2016 where you the community was denied the leadership we should have received. If you are asking, what happened? Let me explain.

In 2012, we had four individuals who ran for Mayor: Wade Harper, Gary Agopian, Don Freitas, and Michael Leon. The results were Harper 12,594; Agopian 10,129; Freitas 6,329; and Leon 1,740. If Freitas hadn’t run or would have dropped from the race, Harper would have likely lost.

Based on the polls that I and another team conducted, the results this year would recreate what happened in 2012 – getting the wrong candidate in office. I personally feel it would be a disservice by staying in. I had numbers, folks but not enough to take me over the finish line. I can accept that.

We are down to two primary candidates, two contenders who are taking it to the finish line.  I spoke with both candidates and both have strengths but in the end, one must make a decision that is aligned to the principals that you, the community echoed to me in debates, emails and one-on-ones, and on social media.

I support Sean Wright due to the following reasons. He:

  • Understands the importance of fiscal management
  • Will work with Councilmembers to ensure that Measure O funds are collected
  • Will work with the Police Chief and Commission on innovative planning to reduce crime
  • Will bridge the walls that divide our community
  • Understands the need for Local Jobs
  • Will develop strategy that will address the homeless issue
  • Supports holding on new rezoning or new housing starts

Let’s not split the vote again and miss our opportunity for change.  Let’s make Antioch right again by voting the Wright way.

Gil Murillo


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Turnage writes in support of Wright for Mayor, also wants to serve with Ogorchock for change in Antioch

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016


We are now three weeks away from our election. The grumblings throughout the city continue “Antioch needs change, Antioch needs a new direction.” This is something I also believe in whole heartedly, that is why I am running for City Council. The question is how many of us actually know what needs to be done to get a “new direction”?

The answer is clear: three votes on the City Council and the thought process can change. The question is which three votes best fits our City. If you are happy and content with the direction of our City then the voting process is simple for you, pick the three incumbents and call it a day. If you are not happy well then it becomes a little trickier. I am a candidate so I am not writing this as a “vote for me” letter to the editor. I am writing the following to hopefully clear up some of the muddy water of what is about to happen in this election as a citizen.

We have a Mayor race for one seat and a Council race that has two seats open for election. If you subscribe to the idea that change is needed, then many of you (us, we and even me) thinks that Lori Ogorchock is doing a good job and can be a part of that change.  Lori is already there with her vote in place, an equal vote to that of the Mayor. In our City, as a General Law City a Council Member and the Mayor have basically the same authority with the exception of a couple items. The Mayor runs the meeting, also the Mayor appoints for commissions and then the Council approves them in a vote.

So in my point of view if you want change, and you want to get to the new count of three votes then it becomes much simpler to get to if Sean Wright is voted in for Mayor. That would give two votes towards the change and only needing one non-incumbent to win a Council seat. Beating an incumbent is hard, beating two is harder.  Please do not think that I am slamming Lori in any way, I think Lori is a good Councilmember and I do think she would make a good Mayor. For me it is what is best for Antioch. For me it is for a change in our majority vote, and I believe that is what many of our citizens are wanting, a change in direction.

If Sean and Lori split the votes too much Wade Harper will be re-elected. Over the past couple years I have been able to get to know the man, Wade Harper, as a person. I like him. I would be proud to have him as my neighbor. As our Mayor I think we can do better in leadership for our City. This is nothing personal just, my opinion on what is best for our citizens.

There is still one more side to this coin, If Lori is to win then, her seat becomes one up for appointment. Not the third place vote-getter in the Council race. So, if Lori wins and one incumbent wins in the Council race (it is hard to beat an incumbent) then we are at a stalemate of 2-2 on the vote for who gets appointed. This can be very difficult to deal with and could leave us once again without change in our City.

We are three weeks away; many of us have our mail-in ballots. We have to ask do we really want to have change? If so what is the best way to make this happen? By using the power of our votes. I am voting for Sean Wright, that way I can have Lori Ogorchock and Sean both which makes this City two steps closer to the change we all want to see.

Kenny Turnage, II

Candidate for City Council


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Writer, Antioch business owner, explains reasons he supports Wright for Mayor

Monday, October 17th, 2016


On Thursday June 23, 2016 I attended an event at the Antioch Senior Center. Upon arrival, I was

approached by one of the mayoral candidates and was asked to support them. Unbeknownst to this person, I had decided to support a different candidate earlier in the month – Sean Wright.

I explained that I had worked closely with Sean for six years. That his experience, and leadership were desperately needed by the Antioch community. I also shared that I would be willing to listen, and with an open mind, to anything this candidate wanted to share.

Their reply? “That’s ok. You don’t live here. Your vote doesn’t matter.”

They were right – I don’t live in Antioch, and therefore cannot vote in the local election. I do, however, own a business in Antioch, and have for quite some time. I donate countless hours in the community, and thousands of dollars annually to our schools, service clubs, foster youth, and homeless outreach, among other programs. I have nearly 3,000 clients of whom two thirds are Antioch residents. So, while my personal vote doesn’t “count” I don’t believe the candidate’s reply was fair or accurate.

Sean Wright, on the other hand, has been supportive of my business since the day we met. He doesn’t care that I don’t live in Antioch. He sees the potential that I could one day move here. He

recognizes the economic impact my business has on the Antioch community. Sean is not concerned about my vote, he’s concerned about my business, and all other regional businesses. He recognizes the economic impact a business in the region can have on the residents of Antioch. He cares that my business employs Antioch residents, that my business shops locally – almost exclusively – and that my business gives back to the Antioch community. It’s called vision, and of the three mayoral candidates, Sean Wright is the only one that has one.

Richard Pagano

Antioch Small Business Owner

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Writer, school board member, backs Barr for Supervisor

Friday, October 14th, 2016


I have lived my entire life in East County, and I’ve been on the School Board for over 30 years. I’ve seen our community change a lot during that time, and learned that certain qualities make people into great leaders. I’m here to tell you that Steve Barr is a great leader and I hope you vote for him this election for County Supervisor.

I served with Steve for five years on the School Board. His knowledge about our community and many of the different issues we face, from complex budgeting to keeping our families safe, was always there. But I was also struck by his patience and ability to work with all sides on some very tough issues. He doesn’t just talk about bringing people together- he has the background to do it effectively.

And that’s what we need at the County, representing us and bringing us the resources our community needs. Many people don’t realize the important role the County plays in our lives, but let me assure you that we need a real leader like Steve Barr in that seat pushing for us and making sure East Contra Costa isn’t just an afterthought. Please join me this election and vote for Steve Barr for County Supervisor.

Joanne Byer

Board Member, Liberty Union High School District

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Former Superintendent writes in support of Barr for Supervisor

Friday, October 14th, 2016


This letter is to enthusiastically support Steve Barr for county supervisor! As a former superintendent of the Liberty Union High School District, I had the very good fortune to work with Steve when he provided dynamic leadership as a member of the Board of Trustees.

In all regards, I found Steve’s honesty, integrity, intellect, optimism, compassion, and determination to make a positive difference to be truly exceptional qualities.

The LUHSD Governing Board is fortunate to have outstanding, dedicated, and committed members. Steve not only continued that tradition — he significantly enhanced it. His unwavering focus on providing the best academic education and personal growth for ALL students was inspirational.

Fiscal responsibility was another of Steve’s major emphasis. His leadership helped to create policies and procedures that ensured the efficient management of all finances. Accountability and transparency were of the highest priority for Steve.

During times of high stress and high stakes decision-making, Steve was at his best. After seeking and considering input from all stakeholders, he was able to objectively, and thoroughly, analyze all aspects of issues before making an informed decision.

Steve was an incredible advocate for all students. He promoted safe schools in which all students could flourish in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. College prep, vocational, special education, and agriculture programs were all strongly promoted by Steve.

I am confident Steve will exhibit these same qualities and provide the same high quality leadership as a member of the County Board of Supervisors.

Dan Smith

Retired Superintendent

Liberty Union High School District

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