Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Frazier, DeSaulnier vote to allow non-citizen poll workers for elections

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

By Allen Payton, Publisher

According to an article on Breitbart.com, on Monday, July 8, 2013, “the California State Senate passed legislation AB817 that would allow non-citizens to help voters when they cast their ballots. Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda sponsored the bill, which would permit as many as five permanent residents who entered the U.S. legally to help voters at polling places.”

According to the LegiScan website, State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, who represents Antioch, voted in favor or the bill and when the State Assembly passed the bill on May 23, Assemblyman Jim Frazier, who also represents Antioch, voted in favor, as well.

It is illegal for non-citizens to vote in American elections.

Now the bill goes back to the Assembly for a final vote, with the changes made by the Senate.

To track the bill and for more information on the bill, click here.

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East County Republican Women to hold monthly meeting

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Republican Logo East County Republican Women to hold monthly meetingEast Contra Costa Republican Women will meet on Thursday, June 13, 11:30 a.m. Location: Caps Oak Street Bar And Grill, 144 Oak Street in Brentwood. For reservations call (925) 286-7674. Price is $20 per person. Guests are always welcome.

For more information, please contact Michele White at (253) 426-0843.

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Frazier secures Assembly Transportation and Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee assignments

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Antioch’s new representative in Sacramento has secured positions on two key California State Assembly committees that will benefit the community.

Assembly Speaker John Pérez assigned Assemblyman Jim Frazier to three standing committees for the 2013-2014 legislative session: Insurance Committee, Transportation Committee and Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.  As previously announced by Pérez, Frazier will also serve as Chair of the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee.

In addition, Frazier announced the selection of his Sacramento Chief of Staff, Debra Gravert, as well as his District Director, Jennifer Barton.

Gravert has over 25 years of experience working in the State Capitol and brings vast expertise to the position. She formerly served as Chief of Staff to Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and Assemblymember Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills).  Gravert will manage all staff and operations for Frazier’s District and Capitol offices and serve as his principal staff advisor on legislative issues.

As District Director, Jennifer will direct the staff in the two local offices of Assemblyman Frazier, overseeing District operations such as constituent services, community outreach, town hall meetings and events.  Barton is a seasoned District Director having served as the District Director for former Assemblywoman Helen Thomson, Senator Lois Wolk, and Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher.

In addition to Gravert and Barton, the Frazier team also includes Lawrence Cooper, Legislative Director; Tisha Simpson, Scheduler; Zachary Leary, Legislative Assistant; and Brandon King, Field Representative.

“I am excited and honored to serve the residents and communities in the 11th Assembly District,” said Frazier.  “Having talented professionals on my team will help me to do just that.”

Assemblymember Frazier’s Sacramento office is located at:

State Capitol, Room 3091

Sacramento, CA 95814

916/319-2011 (phone)

916/319-2111 (fax)

A Contra Costa County District office will open as soon as office space is found.

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Former labor leader, retired steelworker Tony Tiscareno appointed to the Antioch City Council

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Simonsen administers Oath to Tiscareno 1024x768 Former labor leader, retired steelworker Tony Tiscareno appointed to the Antioch City Council

New Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen administers the Oath of Office to Tony Tiscareno, following his appointment by the City Council to fill Mayor Harper’s unexpired term on, Tuesday, December 18, 2012.

By Allen Payton, Publisher

Antioch Mayor Harper and the Council majority made their decision, tonight and appointed Tony Tiscareno, a retired steelworker, former labor union leader, and 42-year Antioch resident to the vacant City Council seat.

The seat is the unexpired term of Harper, who stepped down mid-way through his first term on the Council after being elected Mayor.

Tiscareno was one of nine applicants, including former Mayors Jim Davis and Don Freitas, as well as former Mayor Pro Tem Manny Soliz, Jr. who sought the appointment.

Following three-minute presentations by each of the candidates, and comments from the public, the council deliberated, with the guidance of City Attorney Lynn Tracy Nerland, on how to proceed with the appointment process.

After three rounds of votes to advance or eliminate applicants, only two candidates emerged with at least three votes of the council members: Freitas and Tiscareno.

Recently rumored to be a favorite, along with Antioch Planning Commissioner Vincent Manuel, the 56 year-old Tiscareno was chosen on a 3-1 vote, with Councilman Gary Agopian dissenting. Following the vote, Agopian asked that he be allowed to make it unanimous to show solidarity on the council and support for the newly appointed councilman. The official vote was changed to 4-0 in favor of Tiscareno.

He was then given the Oath of Office by City Clerk Arne Simonsen.

Tiscareno worked for 33 years as a steelworker, and served as the Political Director for the Contra Costa Labor Council, until March of last year. He then served as Campaign Director, this year, for newly elected Assemblyman Jim Frazier, who was in attendance during tonight’s council meeting. Tiscareno also used to own a small business in Antioch, in the 1990′s, trading sports cards. He stated he had coached youth sports in Antioch, as well. He is married and has a daughter and a son.

In his appointment application statement, Tiscareno said he will focus on public safety, youth, economic development and public works.

Congratulations to Antioch’s newest council member, Tony Tiscareno. Good luck, God bless and do well.

 

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Simonsen takes Oath of Office as Antioch’s new City Clerk

Friday, December 14th, 2012
Arne Simonsen oath 1024x768 Simonsen takes Oath of Office as Antiochs new City Clerk

Outgoing City Clerk Denise Skaggs administers the Oath of Office to new Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen, as his parents Otis and Betty Simonsen hold his grandfather’s Bible.

By Allen Payton, Publisher

Newly elected Antioch City Clerk returned from Scotland, this week and was sworn in on Thursday, December 13 in the City Council Chambers by outgoing Clerk Denise Skaggs, before a small group of family, friends and supporters.

His parents Otis and Betty Simonsen held his grandfather’s Bible upon which he took the oath.

Before taking his oath, Simonsen joked “I just hope the Mayor won’t call me Madame Clerk.”

Following the brief ceremony, Simonsen offered treats from Scotland to those in attendance. One humorous moment occurred when he was questioned whether it was appropriate for an elected official to give out “Flake” chocolate candy bars. (They’re made by Cadbury and are tasty). Former Mayor Don Freitas, who was in attendance, said “It only matters if you eat one.”

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Harper sworn in as Mayor, Antioch Council will appoint new council member to fill his council seat

Monday, December 10th, 2012
Dr Gill gives oath to Wade Harper 225x300 Harper sworn in as Mayor, Antioch Council will appoint new council member to fill his council seat

Dr. Don Gill, Antioch Unified School District Superintendent administers the oath of office to Antioch’s new mayor, Wade Harper.

Council to reconsider more expensive 3% at 50 pension plan

By James Ott

Antioch’s first African-American Mayor Wade Harper was sworn in during last Tuesday’s special council meeting.

In another first for the city – newcomer Monica Wilson became Antioch’s first female African-American council member as well, when she was sworn in during the same ceremony.

Harper won a decisive victory to become mayor, beating out competitors by garnering over 40 percent of the vote. The runner-up was current council member Gary Agopian who managed to pull in over 32 percent of the mayoral vote.

The council voted for long-time council member Mary Rocha as Mayor Pro-Tem – a position Harper held under former Mayor Jim Davis, since she was the top vote-getter in the council election.

During his speech at the swearing in ceremony, Harper thanked his supporters and his family and went directly to listing some of his plans for Antioch.

I’ll forego the usual victory lap speech,” Harper said. “We can do the victory lap as a council when we reduce crime and improve economic development in this city.”

The first thing Harper asked for was a Mayor’s office so that he and the council have a place to meet and discuss plans for Antioch.

He also said he plans to create subcommittees to help deal with crime and beautify the city, particularly in well-known crime hot spots such as L Street and A Street and the infamous Sycamore area.

Harper also announced that he would be retiring from his job as a police officer effective January 4. The announcement perhaps lends some weight behind his goal to become “the best mayor in East County” over his upcoming tenure as mayor.

Harper has his work cut out for him. Antioch’s crime has skyrocketed over the last few years as its property values and city revenues have fallen.

Monica Wilson takes her seat on the council 1024x768 Harper sworn in as Mayor, Antioch Council will appoint new council member to fill his council seat

Monica Wilson takes her seat on the council, as the rest of the council applauds.

Council will make appointment to fill Harper’s vacant council seat

With Wade Harper elected mayor, his former council seat – with two years left – is now vacant and there is some controversy over how that position is to be filled.

During last Tuesday’s special meeting the council voted three to one to choose the new council member themselves after allowing people to apply for the vacant council seat through an application process. New Mayor Wade Harper and council members Mary Rocha and Monica Wilson voted for the application/selection process to fill the empty council seat. Council member Gary Agopian was the lone dissenter.

This “application process” was selected over two other options that the city could have chosen in order to fill the available council seat.

One of those options would have been to hold a special election to allow Antioch voters to decide who should fill the vacant position. But this option was ultimately rejected by all of the council members because City Attorney Lynn Tracy Nerland said that such a special election could cost the city over $200,000.

The third option considered was to allow Mayor Harper to appoint someone to fill the vacant council seat.

Although this option at first seems undemocratic, in the past Antioch has used this process to fill the vacant seat with the runner-up from the recent election for city council. In this case that person would have been former Mayor Jim Davis, who decided only to run for city council this time around.

In fact, Davis was only narrowly defeated by Monica Wilson and Mary Rocha in what was a very close race for council.

There were two council seats available during the election; the first was won by Mary Rocha who received 24.75 percent of the vote, or 11,795 votes. Wilson won the last remaining council seat with the second most votes, but she did so by getting 11,190 votes to runner-up Jim Davis’s 10,524. The two candidates were separated by just 1.4 percent or 666 votes.

Supporters of this option say that by appointing Davis to the newly vacant council seat, the Mayor and other council members would effectively be appointing someone who was “voted” in by Antioch citizens.

Gary Agopian made it clear that he believed this option to be the most ethical and democratic option available to the council. He said that regardless of the application process, council would still be choosing who they believed should be on the city council rather than Antioch voters, who should be the only ones to select their leaders.

Government is instituted by the people,” said Agopian. “The people reserve the right to choose their leaders. It is an American tradition that many have fought and died to protect: The right of the people to choose – not a council – the people.”

Agopian said that he would be inclined to support the option to hold a special election so voters could officially elect someone but that the cost would be too great considering the poor financial state of Antioch.

The next most democratic solution, Agopian argued, was to appoint whoever received the third-most votes to the newly available third council seat.

Harper – the only other council member to make comments of any notable length on the subject, – said that he thought a special election was too expensive and so allowing people to apply and then selecting from that pool who council thinks is the best candidate is the preferred, and most democratic option available.

I believe this is a fair process,” said Harper. “It had its flaws in the past but it can be done better.”

Those interested in applying for the vacant council seat must live in Antioch and be a registered voter.

Applicants must write a statement s to why they should be considered for council and it must not exceed 400 words or exceed three minutes when the statement is read allowed during interviews.

Aspiring council members must also fill out an official application, Conflict of Interest 700 form, (available at city hall), and have a minimum of 20 and maximum of 30 signatures from registered Antioch voters who support their bid for a council seat.

All of these items must be completed and turned in to the city by Thursday, Dec. 13 at 4:30 p.m.

Interviews will be held by the city council on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 6:00 p.m.

Also At the Meeting

The council voted unanimously to consider increasing the retirement plans of future police hires as well as other miscellaneous hires the city might make. The city feels it would be unfair to increase retirement rates for new police but not for other new employees.

Currently, new police hires would receive a 3 percent at age 55 retirement plan.. This means that a police officer could start collecting their pension at age 55 that is equal to 3 percent of their top salary for every year on the job.

If the city votes to make the increase, new police hired will instead be able to start that same collection five years earlier, which will inevitably cost the city more money.

If miscellaneous employees receive an increase as well, they will go from the current two percent at age 55 formula to a new 2.7 percent at age 55 retirement plan, which would also cost the city more money.

Human Resources Director Michelle Fitzer gave a presentation at the council meeting to try and determine how much the new pensions would cost the city, but the answer is a little tricky.

Her best estimate was that the city would be paying roughly 4.4 percent more per new police hire if the city goes with the new 3 percent at 50 formula. That rate, like all CalPERS rates, will go up over time.

Fitzer estimated that if the city were to hire one experienced officer on July 1 of next year it would cost the city about $4,502 more with the old retirement plan versus the proposed 3 percent at 50. The city currently needs 15 officers and expects that number to double over the next month or so.

If the city hires 15 new experienced officers under the proposed pension increase, it will cost the city about $67,530 extra per year. That number will also climb roughly every year.

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Final votes counted: Harper, Wilson make history with elections as Antioch Mayor and Council Member

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Simonsen elected Clerk

By James Ott

Antioch voters have spoken and the new Mayor is current Mayor Pro Tem Wade Harper who makes history as Antioch’s first African-American Mayor.

 Final votes counted: Harper, Wilson make history with elections as Antioch Mayor and Council Member

Mayor-Elect Wade Harper

Harper beat out fellow city council member Gary Agopian for the Mayor position by garnering 12,594 votes for 40.77% of the vote versus Agopian’s second place total of 10,129 for 32.79%. Next up was former Mayor Don Freitas, who took 6,329 votes for 20.49% and Michael Anthony Leon who had just 1,740 votes for 5.63% of the vote. There were 102 write-in votes.

As a Lieutenant for the City of Tracy Police Department, Harper rode his campaign mostly on a “zero tolerance for crime” slogan.

Antioch has had problems with crime in the past but has recently seen huge increases in crime rate with some property and violent crime categories rising 50 percent as police were cut by the city as a result of drastic budget cuts.

Harper said he will look for “out-of-the-box solutions” to hire more police and Harper also voted for new police as a city council member, although every council member voted to hire more police officers, including Agopian.

When told about the historic significance of his election, Harper jokingly said, “That’s what I’ve heard. I’m the first mayor elected who owns an I-Pad.”

Harper also said he will work to clean up blight and decrease truancy for minors in school.

The race for the two vacant council seats was much closer, with the top vote-getters, incumbent Mary Rocha, newcomer and Economic Development Commissioner Monica Wilson and former Mayor Jim Davis all coming within six to seven hundred votes of one another.

When the final ballots were counted, the two vacant council seats were taken by incumbent Rocha who garnered 11,795 votes for 24.75% of the vote and Monica Wilson with 11,190 votes for 23.48%. Davis followed with 10,524 votes for 22.08%. School Board Trustee Walter Ruehlig placed fourth with 8,465 votes for 17.76% and newcomer Noel Pinto coming in last with 5,538 votes for 11.62% of the vote. There were 147 write-in votes.

Rocha, who will be Mayor Pro Tem for the next two years, as the top vote-getter, campaigned on her 30 plus years working with the Antioch Unified School District, the City of Antioch and many other community groups in Antioch and across the East Bay.

She said she plans to fight blight through Code Enforcement, increase public safety programs and increase employment and business opportunities in Antioch.

Rocha admitted that it has been hard to get things done as a city council member with the rough economy.

With the recession all it’s been is cut, cut, cut. My goal this time is to get things back the way they were. One thing I’d like to do is to look to see how we can work with the other cities for job creation.”

The poor economy might be one reason that voters chose Wilson, as she has a business background which she said has “taught her to not take no for an answer – persistence = results.”

Wilson is also making history as the City of Antioch’s first female African American council member.

MonicaWilson4Council 294x300 Final votes counted: Harper, Wilson make history with elections as Antioch Mayor and Council Member

Councilwoman-Elect Monica Wilson


In her first term Wilson said she plans to “promote business and job growth, find funding to increase the number of officers protecting us, keep our road and transit improvements on track and stand up to protect the Delta from plans to divert water south.”

Wilson’s campaign obviously made an impact on Antioch voter’s who also seemed to say they wanted change by bringing in Wilson over Mayor Davis – who did not run for re-election and instead just ran for a council seat.

Davis may be in luck however, a third council seat will be filled either an appointment of the council or another election, when Harper steps down from his council seat to become Mayor. Traditionally that position is filled by the next runner up, which would be Davis as he lost to Wilson by a scant 666 votes,  just 1.4% of the vote. But not always.

The council in 2008 voted to pass over then Councilman Arne Simonsen who was the next highest vote-getter in that council election, and instead appointed Martha Parsons to the remaining two years of Davis’ term, when he stepped down to become Mayor. The issue will be decided by the new council of Harper, Rocha, Agopian and Wilson.

Also elected in November was former Antioch Councilman Arne Simonsen, who beat Argentina Davila-Luevano by 3,670 votes or 56.41% to 43.27% for City Clerk. Donna Conley was re-elected as City Treasurer with no one running against her.

The new mayor and council members, as well as City Clerk will take their oaths of office at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 4, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Antioch City Council Chambers located at City Hall, 3rd and H Streets in downtown Rivertown.

For detailed election results, visit www.CoCoVote.us.

Publisher Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Final election results are in: Wilson beats Davis for Antioch City Council by 666 votes

Monday, December 3rd, 2012
MonicaWilson4Council 294x300 Final election results are in: Wilson beats Davis for Antioch City Council by 666 votes

Councilwoman-Elect Monica Wilson

By Allen Payton, Publisher

The county Elections Division have completed counting the remaining ballots and have certified the November election one day before their legal requirement. The results, posted on their website at www.CoCoVote.us, show Monica Wilson beating Mayor Jim Davis for the second council seat by 666 votes, or 1.4% of the vote.

Wilson ended up with 11,190 votes or 23.48% to Davis’ 10,524 or 22.08% of the vote. Councilwoman Mary Rocha was the top vote-getter in the council election with 11,795 votes or 24.75%, beating Wilson by 605 votes. She will be voted in as the city’s new Mayor Pro Tem for the next two years, tomorrow (Tuesday) night, following the Oaths of Office for her, Wilson and current Mayor Pro Tem and Mayor-Elect Wade Harper, who will be sworn in as the city’s new Mayor. Also taking the oath will be the reelected City Treasurer, Donna Conley who had no opposition in the race.

Ceremonies begin at 6 p.m. in the Antioch City Council Chambers at 3rd and H Streets in downtown Rivertown.

For more information on Tuesday night’s Council agenda click here.

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