Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Antioch’s Mayor Harper responds to recall petition

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

By Allen Payton

On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, within the seven days allowed, Antioch Mayor Wade Harper submitted his 200-word statement in response to the Notice of Intention to Circulate Recall Petition served to him at the Tuesday, October 14 Antioch City Council meeting, and officially submitted on Thursday, October 16 to the City Clerk.

Below is his statement. A copy of the actual response can be viewed by clicking Mayor’s Response to Recall Petition.10-22-14.

Mayor Harper’s Reponse to the Recall Petition

As your Mayor and a retired Police Lieutenant, reducing crime is my top priority. Our families deserve to feel safe, that’s why I led the effort to approve Measure C – so Antioch would have funds to hire more police officers. Our community united and we hired 10 new officers (Officers Mike Perez, Kyle Smith, J.B. Hulleman, Marcos Torres, Kenneth Krein, Scott Duggar, Amel Sachnic, TrakKeo-Vann, Ben Padilla and Matt Allendorph), with 4 more currently in the academy – a total of 14 new crime-fighting officers. The cost of this recall may be up to $198,994.50 which could fund another 2 officers to make our streets safer. Under my leadership, Antioch has secured another $625,000 to hire 5 additional officers. Under my leadership, our Police Department conducts weekly crime suppression operations – one of which resulted in 87 arrests in just a five-day period. Nothing is more important thatn keeping our neighborhoods and children safe. But to achieve that goal, it’s going to take all of us working together. It’s time to end the divisiveness. I respectfully ask the Antioch community to ban together, to reject this recall, so we can continue this fight together.

Wade Harper

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Antioch Council candidates share their backgrounds, views and plans

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

By John Crowder

There are eight candidates who have qualified to run for two seats on the Antioch City Council this year. They are Steven Bado, Karl Dietzel, Diane Gibson-Gray, Jeffrey Hall-Cottrell, Lori Ogorchock, Anthony Segovia, Lamar Thorpe, and Tony Tiscareno.

Two candidates, Steven Bado and Jeffrey Hall-Cottrell, although qualified for the ballot, do not appear to be running campaigns. Neither has substantial information posted on-line, and neither has attended candidate forums nor group interviews with the local news media. However, Bado did submit his candidate statement and brief biography for this article.

Here is some basic information on each of the seven candidates, culled from interviews, email responses to questions, and their campaign websites.

Steven Bado Antioch Council candidates share their backgrounds, views and plansSteven Bado is age 40 and has lived in Antioch for 37 years. He has been the General Sales Manager for Dublin Honda since 2003. Before that he worked for four years as an independent contractor with Explorer Van Corp. Bado is a graduate of the NADA Dealer Academy and Antioch High School.

In his candidate statement, he states:

I am real excited about running for City Council..I take pride in our city. I am tired of telling people where I live and there response is O” I want to turn Antioch around for all the different generations that are living here.

I have been helping the younger generations by getting them a Job at Dublin Honda were I am currently employed as the General Sales Manager. I want to see all of the kids succeed in their life and follow their dreams. Everyone needs a little help now and then and that’s why I want to be on the City Council

I want to make a difference in our city by supporting our Police Department, finding good after school programs for the kids. I want to make sure that when the older generation goes out that they fill safe and comfortable.

I take pride in my community and will listen to the residents of Antioch for suggestions on what they would like to see happen in there City and what challenges they have been facing.

I know I would do a great job for you. I am a very energetic man and want to see some great changes for Antioch.”

Karl Dietzel red shirt 225x300 Antioch Council candidates share their backgrounds, views and plans

Karl Dietzel

Karl Dietzel has long been a presence at Antioch city council meetings, where he has proven to be unafraid to voice his opinion. The 65-year-old, first generation immigrant from Germany has been living in Antioch since December, 1989.

For several years Dietzel has attended all city council meetings, and some committee and community meetings as well. He said he first got started contributing to Antioch when he helped a friend paint over graffiti.

Addressing his run for city council, Dietzel said, “I can’t sit on the sidelines anymore.” He spoke about living in a small house on a side street between Sycamore and Mahogany. Addressing the crime the area has become notorious for, he said, “There was always something on Sycamore, but Dogwood Way (where Dietzel resides) was not involved. Now we have almost daily shootings, trash, very few owner occupied homes, drugs, break-ins, loud music, yelling and screaming, and speeding cars.”

Dietzel went on to say, “Our neighboring cities keep growing, building, and luring good name businesses.” He said other nearby cities also maintain their streets and have good landscaping and parks, but this is not the case in Antioch. Here, he said, “crime is out of control, businesses are leaving, city property is not maintained, we are falling apart.”

Dietzel said, “I would like to help and push for a better Antioch, building needed infrastructure for economic growth.” He said he wants to make Antioch safer, and clearly increase the quality of life for residents.

Dietzel makes a point that he is, “not connected to anybody; not to builders, investors, fire or police organizations, unions, apartment property owners, simply to no one.” Because he is not beholden to any special interests, Dietzel says that, if elected, he will, “serve the people alone.”

Dietzel refuses to make campaign promises, noting that, if elected, “I am only one of five” city council members. Regardless, he has an extensive list of goals for the city.

With respect to community safety, Dietzel calls for full staffing of Code Enforcement and Community Service Officers. He wants to see a workload study done for the Antioch Police Department, in order to ensure resources are properly allocated, and calls for the installation of a system that would allow the police to pinpoint areas where gunfire occurs. He advocates for the “latest and best tools / training for our safety department,” and wants to reclaim the police substation at the Lone Tree Community Center from political parties. He also wants to reactivate the rental inspection program.

Dietzel believes that steps need to be taken to ensure good governance. In that regard, he calls for a two-term limit for elected officials, and for council members to provide detailed monthly expenditure lists to the public. He wants such expenditures to be voted on by the city council. He thinks there should be better follow-up of resident inquiries at city council meetings, that more public input needs to be solicited, and that a “code of conduct” should be established for the city council to answer inquiries from citizens. Dietzel wants to go back to a 40-hour work week for all city employees, and says that City Hall and the Police Department need to be open to residents from 8:00 to 5:00, Monday through Friday.

With respect to fiscal responsibility, Dietzel calls for an end to the taxpayer subsidies depleting Antioch revenues by the privatization of Prewett Water Park, the Lone Tree Golf Course, and the animal shelter. He believes that a collection department needs to be hired in order to bring in uncollected fees currently on the books. He doesn’t want to see any more raises for any city employee until, “our budget is solid and healthy.”

Dietzel sees the creation of jobs in the city as a priority. To spur economic growth, he advocates the hiring of “a sharp economic development director.” He further believes that all contracts let by the city should be awarded to local businesses, “no matter what.”

Other ideas promoted by Dietzel include establishing a database on rental units, locating rental property owners, turning on the electricity and water at a residence only with the permission of the owner, and better maintenance and upkeep of city property. He calls for finishing the boat launch area, and opening up the fenced-in park at the old boat launch area.

Dietzel encourages voters to speak with him at the city council meetings.

Diane Gibson Gray 235x300 Antioch Council candidates share their backgrounds, views and plans

Diane Gibson-Gray

Diane Gibson-Gray was elected to the Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) board as a trustee in 2008. She is currently serving her second term on the board. She notes that AUSD is he second largest employer in the city of Antioch, with a budget of $130 million, over 1,800 employees, 19,000 students, and 23 school sites.

In addition to her six years on the school board, she has been the Executive Director for the Arts & Cultural Foundation of Antioch for 10 years. In that role, she plans exhibits at the Lynn House Gallery, manages the free Saturday Summer Concerts, and works with local nonprofit organizations to support community and cultural events.

Gibson-Gray also spent 28 years in the telecommunications industry. She had a diverse career, working in Customer Service, Marketing, and Government Affairs. Her last position in the industry was Regional Director of Customer Care. She retired from the industry in 2004.

Other local service she has been involved with includes the Keep Antioch Beautiful event, Coastal Cleanup Day, 4th of July 2012, and Antioch PD Neighborhood Cleanup. She has also served as a Chamber of Commerce board member.

Gibson-Gray’s top priorities are public safety, fiscal responsibility, and economic development. With respect to public safety, she advocates utilizing, “current Police Department and Code Enforcement staffing to provide the best coverage possible throughout the city.” On fiscal responsibility, she says her goal would be to, “contain costs using available funding wisely.” She also calls for increasing city services by bringing back the 40-hour work week for city staff.

Addressing economic development, Gibson-Gray says, because of current transportation improvements, “Now is the time for discussions with potential new business entities.” She also says that, “In today’s challenging economic climate, we must work smarter and make better use of limited resources. My diverse background has provided me with the skills needed to navigate the current local and state economic crises, hire successful district leaders and create an environment of open communications and collaborative relationships.” She goes on to say that, as an AUSD board member, she has, “been a voice for financial accountability, increased investment in the classroom, and school site safety.”

Lori O 240x300 Antioch Council candidates share their backgrounds, views and plans

Lori Ogorchock

Lori Ogorchock is a former Walnut Creek Reserve Police Officer, worked for the California State Automobile Association for 19 years, and currently works as a Realtor, a job she has had for 10 years.

Ogorchock also has extensive community service experience. She is the Director for the Delta Association of Realtors, and a member of their local government relations sub-committee. She is currently the Member and Club Service Chair of the Delta-Antioch Rotary. In the past, she has been involved with Soroptomist International, the Antioch City Park Design Committee, and the Keller Williams Leadership Council.

Ogorchock boasts extensive volunteer work with Antioch’s youth, having been involved with the Delta Peanut League, Antioch Little League, Antioch Babe Ruth, Antioch Youth Football League, was on the Sutter School Elementary School Site Council, and is a catechism teacher at Holy Rosary Church.

Ogorchock’s main goal for Antioch is to put community safety first. She says, “I will ensure Measure C funds are used as promised for police, plain and simple.” Other goals she has are downtown revitalization, reasonable taxation of businesses, and economic growth. With respect to redevelopment, she said, “Our seniors deserve the best treatment, building condos where there should be a park is just foolishness.” She calls for the simplification of taxes, and fairness in taxation, and believes that community safety combined with business friendly attitudes will stimulate the local economy.

Segovia 182x300 Antioch Council candidates share their backgrounds, views and plans

Anthony Segovia

Anthony Segovia is the youngest candidate for Antioch city council, at 27-years old. While admitting he doesn’t have the experience that some of his competitors do, he none-the-less says he will bring new ideas to the council. His slogan on his campaign signs reads, “Out with the old, in with the new.”

Segovia says his educational and work background are precisely what Antioch needs now. “Having a degree in broadcast journalism and being a financial analyst, I have what it takes to assess Antioch’s financial situation and hear the citizen’s concerns,” he says.

Segovia said his top priority is crime prevention. Therefore, his main goal is to hire more police officers. He also advocates hiring more Community Service Officers.

Another priority of Segovia’s would be to encourage business development by making Antioch more business friendly. He advocates bringing back festivals and other events to revitalize the downtown.

Lamar Thorpe tells a compelling story of overcoming serious adversity. Thorpe said that he was born in prison to a mother addicted to heroin in 1981, placed in foster care, and raised by a family who emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico. He says that he was placed in Special Education in 5th grade, and graduated from high school not knowing how to read or write.

Lamar Thorpe 240x300 Antioch Council candidates share their backgrounds, views and plans

Lamar Thorpe

Thorpe currently works on the executive team of the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District as Chief Advancement Officer.

Thorpe’s priorities as a council member for Antioch would be job growth, community safety, and citizen engagement.

Thorpe says that, “Antioch suffers from a severe jobs and housing imbalance.” To remedy this, he would, “incentive job growth, cultivate new sectors, promote smarter growth, and address local workforce and community needs.”

Thorpe connects community safety to jobs as well. “The facts are clear,” he states, “as the unemployment rate increases, so does crime.” Thorpe advocates ensuring Measure C funds go directly to hiring new police officers, community service officers, and code enforcement officers. He also calls for, “addressing the needs of our youth, young adults, and the broader community through public-private partnerships.” In addition, he wants to, “work with county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to ensure our police officers receive the tools and resources to conduct crime suppression operations.”

With respect to citizen engagement, Thorpe says, “In Antioch leaders need to talk less and listen more. As a civic and higher education leader, I have always valued civic engagement as a process where constituents are able to speak and influence the decision making process.”

Thorpe currently sits on Antioch’s Economic Development Commission.

Tony Tiscareno 287x300 Antioch Council candidates share their backgrounds, views and plans

Tony Tiscareno

Tony Tiscareno is currently an appointed incumbent on the Antioch City Council. He also works as a Realtor with Keller Williams. A resident of Antioch for 45 years, and a 1975 graduate of Antioch High School, he worked at U.S. Steel for 33 years, served as both Vice President and President of United Steelworkers Local 1440, and was Political Director of the Contra Costa Labor Council from 2007-2011. He’s also been a small business owner.

When asked why he is running for city council, Tiscareno said, “As a 45-year resident of Antioch, I am passionate about the city I grew up in. This is where I attended school, married, raised my children, and where I want to spend the rest of my life. I believe I have the leadership skills needed to be a productive council member and my experience working with organizations, community and elected officials allows me to be that leader.”

Asked about his priorities, Tiscareno said, “We have many challenges to overcome before we can become the great city I know we can be. Getting a handle on crime is my priority and I have the leadership skills to work with our police, city, and our citizens to reduce crime. I am very proud to be the “ONLY” candidate endorsed by our police officers because they believe I have the wherewithal as a leader to accomplish this goal. I will continue to support hiring more police officers and code enforcement and will actively participate and promote our neighborhood watch and cleanups. Working with businesses to bring jobs to our city is a priority and I will continue to do so. I also want to provide resources for our youth through our recreation department.”

Tiscareno also addressed his accomplishments as a sitting council member. “Since public safety is my priority, I have worked on bringing resources to help hire police, including a $600,000 COPS grant that will bring in six more police officers and supporting Measure C where 100% of those funds will go to police and code enforcement. I’m working with businesses to help reduce crime such as the LOOKING OUT FOR YOU program with our waste/recycle collectors. Because of my leadership and passion to reduce crime, I am very honored to be the “ONLY candidate endorsed by our police officers.”

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Antioch City Council candidate Thorpe continues to deny sex charges

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Lamar Thorpe Antioch City Council candidate Thorpe continues to deny sex charges

Lamar Thorpe

By John Crowder

Lamar Thorpe, a candidate for the Antioch city council, continues to refute charges that came to light earlier this month that he was found guilty of disorderly conduct for “lewd and indecent behavior” by Student Judicial Services (SJS) at George Washington University (GW). The charges stemmed from an incident that took place in September, 2006, according to a University Police Department (UPD) Incident Report that was obtained by the GW Hatchet. Thorpe was a 25-year-old senior and serving as student body president at GW, at the time.

As a result of the SJS hearing, he was placed on one year of disciplinary probation. During that time, Thorpe continued at the university, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies and serving as a Presidential Fellow.

The third and final Hatchet article on the matter, dated August 17, 2007, all of which are still online, stated the following:

A female sophomore accused Thorpe and then-Vice President of Student Activities Richard Fowler of forcing her to perform oral sex and drink excessively in September 2006, a University Police Department Incident Report states. The report, which was filed on April 22, classifies the alleged offense as first-degree sexual abuse. Both Thorpe and Fowler have repeatedly said they are unaware of the alleged incident and of a case before SJS.

Thorpe…lost an appeal to overturn the disorderly conduct charge, according to SJS records. A sanction letter states that his punishment is one year of disciplinary probation until May 2008.

Based upon various standards and guidelines as established by campus organizations, departments, administrators, and/or faculty, conditions of your probation may include exclusion from co-curricular activities,” the letter states. “Violations of the terms of Disciplinary Probation or any other violations of this ‘Code’ during the period of probation may result in suspension or expulsion from the University.”

…“Thorpe was 25 and the other three students were 19 at the time the complaint was reported to UPD, according to the Incident Report.”

The complete Gazette article can be viewed by clicking here.

Thorpe failed to respond to multiple attempts by Herald staff to contact him about this article. However, in a statement he released earlier this month on his personal Facebook page, Thorpe said, “In short, this student article, which was published nearly 10-years ago, is not true. Please remember that what you are reading is neither a news article nor a publication of George Washington University. The GW Hatchet is a student run publication nothing more, nothing less.” Thorpe also said that the “student online” newspaper, because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), is severely limited in its ability to make a full and accurate account. Later in the statement, he refers to the charges as “hearsay from almost 10 years ago.”

His complete statement can be viewed below.

Lamar Thorpe statement Antioch City Council candidate Thorpe continues to deny sex charges

The implication by Thorpe that the story lacked journalistic integrity, however, is disputed both by David Ceasar, the author of the articles regarding Thorpe, and by current editor-in-chief of the 110-year-old paper, Brianna Gurciullo.

Everything we reported was accurate,” said Gurciullo, “you’ll notice there were no corrections to the story.”

Gurciullo went on to describe a particularly stringent verification process for the story about Thorpe. She said it involved sourcing things multiple times, dozens of interviews, and triple-checking everything. She said the paper’s staff had copies of the UPD incident report, information from Student Judicial Services, and a statement from a witness other than the alleged victim who filed the report. She also said that all interviews were recorded, and that their attorney reviewed the article prior to publication.

Gurciullo also said that the article was posted online because the story broke in the summer. According to Gurciullo, the paper appears in print only during the academic year, but articles are posted on-line year round.

Thorpe, however, continues to stand by his story.

I appealed the decision, I won and on July 1, 2008, my student judicial record was expunged,” he said.

The Herald contacted GW in an attempt to verify the facts of the case, but was met with resistance from the university. Kurtis Hiatt, Associate Director of Media Relations for GW, responded by email, “In accordance with the federal privacy law and university policy on the privacy of student education records, the George Washington University does not confirm whether a disciplinary record exists or comment, discuss, or disclose information in relation to any current or former student’s disciplinary record with the University.”

Past Denials

Thorpe also denied the charges in 2010, while a candidate for the House of Delegates in Maryland. According to a news article on The Examiner website, he posted a video on YouTube (which has since been removed) in which “Thorpe attempted to blame the confusion over this topic on his opponents in the race.” The complete Examiner article can be viewed by clicking here

In another news article posted on the website for The Gazette in Gaithersburg, Maryland, also during his 2010 campaign, it states Thorpe “accused his political opponents of ‘misinforming the public by using a 2007 student article that maliciously stated false claims about me.’” and that he “could not recall the precise nature of the disorderly conduct charge and declined to discuss the matter further.”

The complete Gazette article can be viewed by clicking here.

Thorpe is one of eight candidates running for two seats on the Antioch City Council in the November election.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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County School Board candidates offer details on backgrounds, top priorities

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

By John Crowder

Four candidates are vying for two seats, each of which includes parts of Antioch, on the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) board. Richard Asadoorian, the incumbent serving Area 4, is being challenged by Mike Maxwell. Cynthia Ruehlig, the incumbent serving Area 5, is being challenged by Jeff Belle. Three of the candidates, Asadoorian, Maxwell, and Ruehlig, provided the Herald with answers to questions in which they outlined their backgrounds, experience, positions, and what they consider the most important issues in the current election. Belle, who has been dealing with allegations regarding a criminal past, and recent news articles alleging he falsified his education and medical credentials, did not respond.

Career History

Richard Asadoorian County School Board candidates offer details on backgrounds, top priorities

Richard Asadoorian

Richard Asadoorian was a classroom teacher, counselor, high school principal, director of Summer Youth Employment Training Program, restaurant owner, church youth director, served in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Coast Guard, was a domestic violence counselor for three years, and trained and was a Court Appointed Special Advocate (abused and abandoned children).

Mike Maxwell is currently Vice President of Sales for TaylorMade Water Systems/Waterlogic. He has been working for the firm since 2005. He was also the CEO for San Francisco Giants – Baseball Camps from 1996 to 2004. From 1993 to 2002 he worked for the Mt. Diablo Region YMCA as Membership, Program, and Executive Director(s). From 1984 to 1993 he was Leadership/Student Activities Director, and worked as a coach in football, baseball, golf, tennis and basketball for Monte Vista High School in Danville.

Cynthia Ruehlig is currently a Senior Level Clerk with Contra Costa County, a position she has held for 17 years. Prior to that she worked for the Central Contra Costa County Sanitary District as a Risk Management Technician. She was also a franchise owner of Teves Dry Cleaning and Steam Laundry, and worked as a computer teacher for Global Computers Corporation.

Education History

Mike Maxwell 300x285 County School Board candidates offer details on backgrounds, top priorities

Mike & Shari Maxwell

Richard Asadoorian has both a BA and MA from California State University, Fresno.

Mike Maxwell graduated from Monte Vista High School in 1981, and then attended Diablo Valley College and San Francisco State University, where he received a BA in Speech Communications in 1987.

Cynthia Ruehlig holds a BA in English from St. Scholastica’s College, Manila, and attended California State University, East Bay, obtaining a certificate in Nonprofit Management.

Why Running?

Richard Asadoorian said he was running, “to continue my service in the County Office of Education by representing the 220,000 people in Area 4 as well as Contra Costa County as a whole. To complete my election term as a delegate assembly person to the California School Boards Association and the executive committee of the California County Boards of Education. To advocate for the best legislation to serve the 173,000 students and 18 school districts in the county.”

Mike Maxwell said he was running for the following reasons:

  • It’s time we put the needs of the kids first, teachers and staff a close second

  • We need more folks fiscally responsible

  • The families and employees need a voice at the county level

  • Change is good

Cynthia Ruehlig said, “I grew up in the Philippines under Martial Law. The concept of People Power unfolded and became a reality before my eyes. The experience of the People Power revolution made me aware of the importance of the democratic process. It has molded my conviction that if you want something done – do it yourself.” She went on to say, “I believe I have the knowledge, experience, and constitution needed to become a good trustee for the County Board of Education. The CCCBOE, as an appellate body, must, at all times, maintain neutrality and uphold the intent of the law. It must adhere to its complementary role to the Office of the County Superintendent in order to ensure efficient operation of the County Office of Education.

Cynthia Ruehlig 208x300 County School Board candidates offer details on backgrounds, top priorities

Cynthia Ruehlig

Top Priorities

Richard Asadoorian said his top priorities are “to ensure that the best educational practices are being delivered to our students, to offer full transparency in board dealings, to assist districts in conducting their fiscal duties, and to be visible to my constituents.”

Mike Maxwell said his top priorities are the same as the reasons he is running for office.

Cynthia Ruehlig said her top priorities are to maintain fiscal solvency, promote transparency and accessibility, provide career oriented education and improve academic performance. She also said she wants to maintain neutrality, uphold the California Education Code, and ensure fairness in all adjudicative decisions.

Previous Accomplishments

Richard Asadoorian lists his accomplishments as being a member of the Antioch Economic Commission, and his service on the Board policy committee. Asadoorian sings the National Anthem for many civic and school functions, and is a Neighborhood Watch Captain.

Mike Maxwell listed his previous accomplishments as:

  • Developed Monte Vista High School Leadership into a self-sufficient and fiscally contributing portion of the operation of he school

  • CASC Leadership Program of the Year, MVHS, 1984

  • Brought YMCA programs to 600+ students annually at 8 high schools

  • Past President, Rotary Club of Pleasant Hill

Cynthia Ruehlig listed her previous accomplishments as:

  • Trustee, Contra Costa County Board of Education

  • Cofounder and Nonprofit Administrator – Antioch Music Foundation

  • Advisory Board Member – Fil-Am Society of St. Ignatius

  • Past Member – Contra Costa County Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Council

  • Past Chief Shop Steward – AFSCME Local 2700

  • Past Member – Conciliation Forums of Oakland

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Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline is Tuesday, October 28

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Joseph E. Canciamilla, the County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, reminds voters that 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 28, 2014 is the deadline for the Elections Office to receive a vote-by-mail ballot request for the November 4, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election.

Any registered voter within Contra Costa County may apply for a vote-by-mail ballot. A vote-by-mail application is available on the last page of your Sample Ballot Booklet. Vote-by-mail ballots may also be requested by emailing voter.services@vote.cccounty.us. Email requests must include name, date of birth, residence address and mailing address (if different).

Vote-by-mail applications are valid if they are received in the Elections Office by the October 28th deadline. Elections officials encourage voters to submit their application as soon as possible to allow citizens sufficient time to receive, vote and return their ballots before the polls close at 8:00 pm on November 4th.

Voters may also visit the Elections Office between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm weekdays through Election Day to vote in person or to drop off their ballot. Voters can also use the drop-off boxes for vote-by-mail and absentee ballots located at Antioch, Brentwood, Concord, Hercules, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, San Pablo, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek City Halls during those cities’ business hours.

Voters may also obtain a vote-by-mail ballot in person on Saturday, November 1, 2014, between 8:00 am and 3:00 pm at the Elections Office, which is located at 555 Escobar Street in Martinez.

Any newly naturalized citizen (after October 20, 2014) may register and vote between October 21, 2014 and November 4, 2014, at the Elections Office. Each new citizen must bring their Certificate of Naturalization.

Voters may obtain further information at our website at www.cocovote.us or by calling the Elections Office at (925) 335-7800 or toll free (877) 335-7802.

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Vote-by-mail ballots have been mailed in Contra Costa County, voting has begun

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

Joseph E. Canciamilla, the County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters, announces that vote-by-mail ballots for the November 4, 2014 Gubernatorial General Election were mailed the week of October 6, 2014. Ballots were mailed to those registered voters who previously requested a vote-by-mail ballot and to those living in precincts designated as mail ballot only.

Registered voters who expect a vote-by-mail ballot and have not received it as of October 15, 2014 please call (925) 335-7800 to request a replacement ballot.

We encourage voters to vote and return their vote-by-mail ballots as early as possible. Ballots must be received at the Elections Office by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, November 4, 2014 in order to qualify for counting. Ballots may be returned via mail, dropped off at the Elections Office at 555 Escobar Street, or beginning the week of October 13 they may be dropped off at participating City Halls during normal business hours (Antioch, Brentwood, Concord, Hercules, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, San Pablo, San Ramon and Walnut Creek).

Any voter who wishes to become a permanent vote-by-mail voter for future elections may obtain information from our website at www.cocovote.us/voting/vote-by-mail/ or by calling the Elections Office at (925) 335-7800 or (877) 335-7802. Voters may also sign and return the vote-by-mail application on the last page of their Sample Ballot Booklet.

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Antioch Council candidate Anthony Segovia admits to past crimes

Saturday, October 18th, 2014
Segovia Antioch Council candidate Anthony Segovia admits to past crimes

Anthony Segovia

By John Crowder

Anthony Segovia, a 27-year-old, self-described financial analyst and small business owner, and a candidate for the Antioch city council, has admitted to a criminal record that includes two felony convictions for insurance fraud, as well as grand theft.

In an interview conducted by the Herald, Segovia claimed these charges have now been dropped down to misdemeanors after payment of restitution. He said he was currently on probation for these offenses.

According to Segovia, the felony charges stem from a car accident that took place in 2010. Segovia said he was one of five people in one of the two cars involved. He said that, after the accident, he and the others in the car he was riding in filed insurance claims for injuries sustained. While his own claim, he said, was legitimate, others made claims that were not. Segovia says that the two insurance companies that were defrauded paid about $92,000, altogether, to the five people involved. He claims to have personally received payments of about $1,500.

Segovia said that his involvement in the scheme included his pretending to be two of the other people who had been in the accident, speaking over the phone with and emailing the insurers on their behalf. He said he knew all of the other four participants, and that one of them was an uncle.

Segovia said that the main reason that he got in trouble was that he knew about the inflated claims made by others in the group, but refused to cooperate with the CA Department of Insurance investigators who were looking into the matter.

I didn’t want to rat out a family member,” he said.

After being charged with insurance fraud, he says he determined to start cooperating with the investigators, and it was this decision, along with an agreement to make restitution to the insurance company, that eventually resulted in the charges being lowered to misdemeanors and a reduced jail sentence. Segovia pleaded ‘no contest’ to the two felony charges in 2012. He also said that he paid close to $90,000 in restitution, while one of the other participants paid between $10,000 and $15,000.

The grand theft conviction was for a real estate transaction involving another relative who lost $22,000 in the deal, for which Segovia said he was paid $400. He says he had a financial license, which allowed him to handle home loans, but not a real estate license, which was required.

For his crimes, Segovia says he was sentenced to nine months in jail, but actually spent only 30 days at a Marsh Creek facility, then spent another 45 days with an ankle monitor. This sentence reduction, he said, was approved by the judge in the case, after evaluating all of the circumstances.

Segovia’s version of the case, however, is disputed on almost every point by Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Brian Hast.

According to Hast, Segovia was the instigator of the fraudulent actions, not just someone helping out or covering up for his family. Hast also said that Segovia, still on probation, hadn’t yet paid the bulk of the restitution ordered. He said that the last time Segovia was in court was January, 2013, and that he would be on probation until October, 2017. Hast also said that the charges had not yet been reduced to misdemeanors, and that any such reduction would not happen until full restitution was paid.

Hast related a very different version of the events leading up to the fraud charges. Hast said that Segovia would submit an initial claim to an insurance company, with no proof, and if he was challenged, he would then drop the claim. Some insurance firms paid the claims without question.

According to Hast, he and an investigator from the CA Department of Insurance sat down with Segovia and confronted him with evidence of his crimes. Segovia was cooperative during the meeting, admitted his crimes, and spoke freely about the others involved. Because he was cooperating, Hast said, he told Segovia that he would request jail time of only six months, as long as he didn’t commit any more crimes prior to the trial, and withdrew any fraudulent claims he might still have open. “Then we find out he filed another claim,” said Hast, “and that is why the jail time went from six to nine months.”

Hast said that the total amount of restitution ordered was $118,236.99, and this was the amount Segovia was ordered to pay. According to Hast, the last time Segovia made a payment toward restitution was in November, 2013, when he sent in $250. Segovia had brought in other people on two different claims, and they were also ordered to pay restitution.

Segovia continues to campaign for the Antioch city council, in spite of the revelations about his criminal past. He said that, regardless of this history, he feels that he can still make a positive contribution to Antioch.

I know a crime was committed,” he said, “I think moving forward, given that I’m so young, I don’t want one mistake in my past to affect my future. I want to be an example to people that, even though I made a mistake, I can still move forward, be a positive influence on society, and contribute to my city.”

In response to his past becoming public, Segovia posted the following on his campaign’s Facebook page on October 5:

As many of the people are aware now, yes I do have a past that I am not proud of. Nobody is perfect, including the people judging me. Feeling I did the right at the time, there is no excuse to justify my choices. When one is running for public office of any kind, he/she should be a leader which he/she is seeking office for. As of now I have failed to do that. However what I haven’t failed to do is admit to my mistakes, took responsibility for my actions and moved on. There are many people with a past, they are just not trying to be a part of saving a crime stricken city. Before making a choice to run for Antioch City Council, I knew this was coming, now I have to face the comments and people passing judgment. Regardless of my past, there is a city that needs work and this is my main goal is getting Antioch back on track, getting it back to the city people loved to call hone. Many of you are probably wondering why i have no chosen to withdraw my candidacy, but let me tell you this will only make it stronger and makes me strive to change this great city. As for As the people who stuck by my side and continue to I want to thank you for your love and undying support you have shown me. NOW ITS TINE TO MOVE PAST THIS MINOR SETBACK AND GET TO WORK! ANTHONY SEGOVIA FOR ANTIOCH CITY COUNCIL.”

Segovia is the youngest of eight candidates running for the two seats up for election, on November 4. Also running are appointed incumbent Tony Tiscareno, who Segovia says is his cousin, but Tiscarano stated he only met Segovia at a candidates interview during the campaign and that he has 200 relatives in the area; Antioch School Board Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray, Lamar Thorpe, Lori Ogorchock, Karl Dietzel, Jeffrey Hall-Cottrell and Steven Bado.

Publisher Allen Payton contributed to this article.

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Ruehlig responds to letter supporting Belle

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Strong words are but noise if not verified.

Responding to an October Letter to the Editor [published in the Antioch Herald] by Rev. Austin Miles, a supporter of my opponent Jeff Belle, on criticism of a decision I made as Area 5 Trustee for the CCC Board of Education, here are the facts.

Contra Costa is a Class 2 county office of education (COE) serving 171k students.  Of the 10 Class 2 COEs in California, Contra Costa has the 4th highest cost of living; yet has the lowest compensated county superintendent.  In comparison, there are district superintendents in Contra Costa and Class 3 county superintendents in California with higher salaries/benefits than our own Class 2 county superintendent.

Yes, I voted to give a modest 2% salary increase for the county superintendent, similar to the salary increase provided to all other COE employees to adjust to cost of living changes.  Where does Rev. Miles get his information of a $40k salary increase?

Contra Costa COE is financially healthy with a positive certification and a 6+% reserve.  Although 7 employees were given layoff notices in March 2014; two voluntarily transferred with their career tech programs to the local district while the creative move to offer the Supplemental Early Retirement Program (SERP) allowed the agency to retain the other five.  SERP prompted voluntary retirement of 51 top-step salaried employees, replacing them with 46 lower-step salaried employees.  This reorganization will bring 1.3 million in savings over the next 3 years.  Rev. Miles is misinformed in claiming “38 school staff had to be laid off due to lack of funds”.

Education is a non-partisan issue.  From school, college and county board trustee, to county and state superintendent, no elected position in education is party affiliated.  I dismiss Rev. Miles’ reference to a political party for its divisiveness. 

Common Core is a serious issue and deserves serious consideration.  Mr. Miles‘ use of political rhetoric that Common Core “is so important to the Communists that a 500 million bribe was given to Tennessee to push it in” is delirious.  Irrational criticism of a system in its infancy exploits the situation for personal and political gain.  Mr. Miles does not offer solutions; only chatter that adds to the many challenges of implementing a new standard.  There are many intelligent questions that need to be asked about Common Core.  Why resort to silly?

Focus on policies, not politics.  Passing Prop 30 in 2012 guaranteed funding.  Adopting the Local Control Funding Formula in 2014 simplified financing.  Implementing the Local Control Accountability Plan decentralized goal setting and defined ten priorities to measure success.  California is at a crux.  To create the best comprehensive educational program for our children, we need the collaborative effort of stakeholders. Let’s stick to just the facts.

Cynthia Ruehlig

Antioch

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