By Allen Payton
In front of a standing-room-only crowd inside the Antioch City Council Chambers, Dr. Sean Wright and Lamar Thorpe were given their oaths of office to become the city’s new mayor and newest council member during ceremonies, Thursday night. They joined re-elected Councilwoman Monica Wilson who was sworn in to her second term on the council, and Council Members Tony Tiscareno and Lori Ogorchock, on the dais. As the council candidate with the most votes in the race, Thorpe was then unanimously voted in as the new mayor pro tem, replacing Ogorchock who served in the position for the past two year, and then the two switched seats, placing him to Wright’s right. (View the Facebook live video of the reorganization by clicking here).
The evening began with the outgoing council’s vote to accept the results of the election, followed by farewell speeches by both Councilwoman Mary Rocha and Mayor Wade Harper, as well as speeches by their fellow council members. They were each also presented with a variety of presentations and plaques from the Antioch School Board, and representatives of State Senator Steve Glazer, Congressman Jerry McNerney and Assemblyman Jim Frazier, as well as First 5, a non-profit organization that serves young children in Antioch and the county.
Both Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen and City Treasurer Donna Conley were sworn into their positions, again, having each been re-elected without opposition.
Mayor Wright Takes Office
A standing ovation greeted Wright, as he walked to the podium for his oath of office, which was administered by his uncle and current Mayor of Oakley, Kevin Romick.
“Don’t cry, Sean” some ladies in the audience said.
“Yeah,” shouted supporter Kip Stephens from the back of the room.
Following his oath, Wright said, “I just want to thank all of you guys for coming.”
“This family I have I love dearly and I know they’re going to be with me,” he continued. “I look out there and think of how many of you have become my family. That’s what we need to be as Antioch, a family.”
After Wright took his seat at the dais, Ogorchock welcomed him to the council and said, “I’m here to help you in moving this community moving forward.”
Tiscareno offered his congratulations to Wright.
“I’ve seen some close elections and landslides we were able to see both in this election,” he stated. “Antioch spoke and want to see some change.”
Wright then offered his thoughts in his new position as the community’s leader.
“Thank you all for coming out tonight,” he said. He then mentioned having “the opportunity to sit down with the council members, today” to discuss working together and city business.
Wright used an analogy of the rainy weather which greeted him after waking up, yesterday morning.
“It’s been raining and drizzly all day,” he said, but then interrupted his thought to say “Mayor Harper thank you so much for your service and Mary Rocha, you as well.”
Back to his analogy, Wright said about the rain,“It cleans things. It gives a fresh start and that’s what I see in Antioch. What an opportunity we have as a city to become one.”
“I personally am tired of friends moving away,” he continued on a previous theme. “I want to see people choose to stay here. Where people…work, worship and play all in one place. A school system that we can be proud of that is a college going atmosphere.”
“Let the rain come and the spring come up and make Antioch where we want to live,” Wright said, continuing his weather analogy.
He then said he approached his new position with “nervous trepidation and optimistic excitement,” recognizing that “65% of you didn’t vote for me” but that “65% of you voted for change” and mentioning an election he thought would never end.
“I ask you to confirm me as your mayor with your prayers,”
He thanked his supporters which were diverse and then offered to quotes about service.
“I will be a mayor of all the people,” he said and then offered a quote from Ghandi about service to others.
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” Wright shared. He also said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room on earth,” quoting Muhammad Ali.
“Truth is the glue the holds government together,” he then stated. “I look forward to serving and to help shed light and bring us together.”
Wright spoke of how he will speak with “candor” and that “honesty is the best policy in the end.”
“Friends and neighbors a change is coming to Antioch,” he stated emphatically. “In the beginning I asked you to pray for me. In closing I ask for your prayers. I pray for the wisdom of Solomon.”
“I will serve Antioch with all my heart mind and strength,” Wright concluded.
Before the new mayor spoke, both Thorpe and Wilson gave their acceptance speeches.
Mayor Pro Tem Thorpe Sworn In
Thorpe was administered his oath of office by Diane Burgis, who was elected to the Board of Supervisors in November, with his wife Pat and their daughter Kennedy by his side. Burgis gave a high-five to Thorpe at the conclusion.
In introducing his family, he got choked up while trying to thank Pat.
“I want to thank her because she was the one who encouraged me to run this year,” Thorpe stated and then said to her, “Thank you for giving me the strength and encouragement.”
“I want to thank the current city council for their hard work,” he added then thanked his friends and family.
As he was heading to the dais, Ogorchock, who as the Mayor Pro Tem at the time, was running the meeting, after Harper had stepped down from his position, said “I got to say that’s the first time I’ve seen Lamar speechless,” to laughter from him and the audience.
After being seated in his new place, next to the mayor, Thorpe offered his formal thoughts about the election, saying “I was surprised by how many people voted for me,” and mentioning that on Election Night all he could say was, “Wow.”
He thanked County Supervisor-elect Diane Burgis and then gave thanks “to my mom who I know is watching over me today. She passed away a year ago.”
“She and my dad came here from Mexico. They took in foster kids. I was their very first.
“I want to make sure I represent the good people of Antioch not the special interests,” Thorpe stated. “Because this is your government.”
He then thanked his campaign manager and volunteers.
“There’s a lot of work that we’re going to have to get done,” he continued. “There are some tough challenges coming up in the next few years.”
He then thanked “the Archuletas (Keith and Iris) who have been invaluable,” and former Antioch Mayor Don Freitas.
“I want to focus on transparency and accountability,” Thorpe said. “We want to engage the community.”
He then spoke of his concerns with housing growth and the need for jobs in Antioch.
“ABAG (the Association of Bay Area Governments) has continued to fail Eastern Contra Costa County,” Thorp stated. “They’ve projected more houses and fewer jobs. That’s not sustainable. We must demand high quality jobs.”
He also spoke about the need for “smart growth and transit oriented development.”
“I’m not afraid to point it out because I don’t go along to get along,” Thorpe added.
He finished by saying he looked forward to working with the council and the community.
Councilwoman Wilson Takes Oath for a Second Time
Wilson was given the oath of office by her brother, Terrance, with their mother and Uncle Bob standing by his side.
She then mentioned how “Four years ago when I was sworn in it happened so fast and so quickly I forgot to invite my Uncle Bob.” This time she did and he was there for the ceremony. She also mentioned her “older sister Melony is watching live from New York City.”
After taking her seat on the dais, Wilson shared her thoughts on and thanks for her re-election.
“I want to say thank you Antioch for reelecting me back to the city council,” she said. ‘I do want to thank someone who is here in spirit I want to thank Councilman Gary Agopian.”
“I want to thank Don Freitas for your advice, words of wisdom,” Wilson continued.
She thanked a friend who told her during the campaign to “suck it up and get it done.”
“I want to thank my mom,” Wilson said, choking back tears. “Whose always been there for me…even when times are hard. She walked for me, with me in the rain and the sunny days. She fell…and even got bit by a dog.”
“This is Antioch and a city we need to be proud of. We’ve been divided. We need to let go of that nonsense. Antioch still has challenges,” she continued and then spoke about the economic opportunities the city has
One of us is not as smart as all of us. We come together to make this city great,” Wilson concluded.
Dr. Lamont Francies of the Delta Bay Church of Christ in Antioch ended the proceedings by offering the following benediction:
“Almighty God in Heaven, it is with humble hearts that we approach your throne of grace, you are the God who sits on high and looks down low. We give thanks to you Lord, for you are good, your mercy endureth forever. Tonight, we rejoice in the city’s peaceful transfer of power. This city, incorporated in 1872, was named after the biblical town of Antioch. A city noted for it’s cultural diversity, its trade and commerce, a refuge city for all seeking a better life. As we stand here on the dawn of a new day in Antioch, let us live up to that legacy and practice what we have been positioned to do. We are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. For we know unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
Bless this gateway to the Delta, to be a gateway to peace, partnerships and prosperity.
Let us put behind the politics of the past and look to the possibilities of the future. Help us to see the invisible so that we can do the impossible. Make this city one, as we strive for unity and not uniformity. Tonight we forsake who we are for the possibility of who we can become. Give our new mayor, Dr. Wright the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, and the compassion to lead us with charity. Bless and protect him, his wife Lani and their five children…place a hedge around their home and a pledge in their hearts.
When the city was sick Lord, you sent us a doctor, but we know that before he was elected, he was selected, raised up by you for such a time as this. You not only gave him sight but insight, You gave him a vision. The bible says without a vision, the people perish. So together like Moses we lift up his hands, for we do not know what the future holds but we do know who holds the future.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. I pray this in the name of the one that’s called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace, let us all together say Amen.”
Wright then adjourned the meeting, and then along with Thorpe and others attended the Antioch Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Mixer underway at Tailgaters, where they celebrated with friends and supporters. Wilson held a gathering at her home with family, friends and supporters.
Please check back later for additional photos, speeches and public comments.