Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Winners of Antioch School Board elections to be sworn in Friday, next Tuesday

Wednesday, December 9th, 2020

Antioch School Board Trustees-elect Antonio Hernandez and Dr. Clyde Lewis. Herald file photos.

By Allen Payton

The winners in the races for Antioch School Board, Antonio Hernandez in Area 1 will be taking his oath of office this Friday and Dr. Clyde Lewis, Jr. in Area 3 will be taking his oath of office next week.

When asked when and where he will be sworn in, and by whom, Hernandez responded, “I’ll be taking the oath of office on Friday, December 11th, during the same ceremony where many of the city officials are participating.” That will be ceremonial, as all of the city officials were sworn in on Tuesday.

“Mayor Lamar Thorpe will be swearing me in,” Hernandez added.

“There will also be a ceremonial oath of office during the next School Board Meeting on the 16th. Mayor Lamar Thorpe will be administering the Oath during that time as well,” he added.

Lewis will be sworn in at the school district’s offices on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 9:00 a.m. by Superintendent Stephanie Anello.

“Both Clyde and Antonio will have a ceremonial swearing in at their first Board Meeting on December 16th,” she shared, reiterating Hernandez’ comment.

The list of people authorized under California Education Code section 60 to administer the official Oath are as follows:

“The Superintendent of Public Instruction, Deputy and Assistant Superintendents of Public Instruction, secretary of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, members of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, county superintendents of schools, school trustees, members of boards of education, secretaries and assistant secretaries of boards of education, city superintendents of schools, district superintendents of schools, assistant superintendents of schools, deputy superintendents of schools, principals of schools, and every other officer charged with the performance of duties under the provisions of this code may administer and certify oaths relating to officers or official matters concerning public schools.”


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Last act: Antioch City Council approves another cannabis business on unanimous vote before change in leadership

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

The new Antioch Mayor, Councilmembers, City Treasurer and Clerk with City Attorney and Manager during the Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020 council meeting. Video screenshot.

Council members propose new ideas for future agenda items

NOTE: Apologies for the poor quality of the photos/screenshots. The council meeting’s livestream feed was offline during the oaths of office and for the remainder of the meeting. Each shot is from a TV screen.

By Allen Payton

As the last action of their terms in office, Antioch Mayor Sean Wright and Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts voted with the other three council members to unanimously approve a fifth cannabis business in the city, the Cookies dispensary. It will be located at 2515 W. 10th Street.

The council then voted to accept the results of the November election. Following comments by City Manager Ron Bernal, Wright, Motts, and thoughts shared by fellow council members, and other officials who represent Antioch, the new city officials were given their ceremonial oaths of office, having been sworn in during an in person process Tuesday afternoon. (See related article)

Wright, Motts Offer Their Farewells

“We just completed an historic election in the City of Antioch,” said City Manager Ron Bernal. “We had all seven offices up for election. There were 27 candidates that ran for city office. We went to by district elections.”

“Serving in public office is not for the fainted hearted. It takes a certain kind of selflessness,” he continued. “I want to personally thank outgoing Mayor Sean Wright and Mayor Pro Tem Motts for their service. Each of you bring special talents to the job you’ve been doing for the City of Antioch.”

“I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve you as electeds,” he added.

Outgoing City Clerk Arne Simonsen spoke next.

“To the citizens of Antioch…these eight years and the eight years on the city council have given me a love for Antioch. We have a good city,” he said. About the other officials Simonsen said, “They really want to serve the public. You’ve got to give them some good respect for what they do. Whatever they’re doing is for the best of all of Antioch.”

Motts spoke next reading from prepared remarks, saying, “It’s been my honor to serve the residents of Antioch for the last two years. Although my time on council was short, I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish. I will continue to be an advocate for the community. I am by no means going away. This council must make the revitalization of north Antioch one of its priorities. The continued downward spiral will only get much worse if there’s not a commitment.

“Shelter should be a human right,” she continued. “Homelessness is undermining our public health, our economic development.”

Motts said she would continue to push for a park and event center at the old lumber company lot in downtown.

Getting choked up, she thanked Bernal and City Attorney Thomas Smith, and each of her fellow council members and the work they did with her.

She then congratulated newly elected council members Tamisha Walker and Mike Barbanica.

“Being a council member has been difficult in these polarized times,” Motts said, and then thanked her family for their support.

New Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe takes his ceremonial oath of office.

“I didn’t spend the time to write anything out,” Mayor Sean Wright said, speaking next. “It’s been my honor to serve Antioch for the last four years. Mayor is just a position. Our ability to serve has nothing to do with our title. I will continue to serve this community. We have worked our butts off for four years. From redistricting, to cannabis to COVID…to police reform, it’s been non-stop.”

He then thanked Bernal for his friendship and for all he does for the community, getting choked up.

“I will do everything I can to support the new council,” Wright continued.

“Mayor Thorpe, congratulations. I say that will all sincerity,” he said. “I look forward to working behind you.”

Wright then congratulated Walker and Barbanica, and thanked Councilwomen Monica Wilson, Ogorchock and Motts, pointing out what he appreciated about each of them.

“Arne it’s been a pleasure working with you,” he continued. “With that, I just say thank you, the voters of Antioch, for giving me the pleasure of serving you.”

New Councilwoman Tamisha Walker takes her ceremonial oath of office.

Bernal then showed the plaques that will be presented to Wright and Motts.

Outgoing City Treasurer Jim Davis was not able to attend the online meeting.

County Supervisor Diane Burgis and a staff representative of State Senator Steve Glazer thanked Wright, Motts and Simonsen, and congratulated the newly elected city officials.

Ogorchock, Wilson and Thorpe then offered their comments to Motts, Wright and Simonsen.

“You’re the best cheerleader for Antioch,” Ogorchock said to Wright. “I’m gonna miss you guys.”

“Definitely going to miss Jim Davis and Arne Simonsen,” Wilson said next. “Sean, I’m going to miss you. Joy Motts, what can I say? You’ve supported every idea I’ve brought to you. I’m not going to say I’m going to miss you. I’ll see you around. I thank all of you for your hard work and dedication to the City of Antioch and see you later.”

New Councilman Mike Barbanica takes his ceremonial oath of office.

Thorpe spoke last saying, “I offer my congratulations to both Arne and Jim Davis for their years of service to the City of Antioch. Both of you literally created the opportunities for people like me to be here.”

“To Mayor Sean Wright, thank you for your four years of service,” he said. “I’m very appreciative of our time, together. Elections can be rocky. But the better thing to do is to move forward for the betterment of our community.”

“I always affectionately say Joy Motts brought me to the party,” he said. “You made me feel valued. You made me feel engaged. I love you for all that you’ve done for me. You’ve always had my back and I appreciate you for it.”

He then thanked Motts for her efforts on homelessness. “I appreciate you for it. I could go on for hours talking about the huge heart that you have for the community, for people who are not always heard. I appreciate you for that.”

Re-elected Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock takes her ceremonial oath of office.

New City Officials Take Ceremonial Oaths of Office

Having given each of the recently elected official their oath of office, earlier Tuesday afternoon, Simonsen then administered the ceremonial oaths of office to each of them, starting with Thorpe, then followed by Walker, Barbanica, Ogorchock, Wilson and Posada. As his last act as city clerk, Simonsen gave the ceremonial oath of office to his replacement, newly elected City Clerk Elizabeth “Ellie” Householder.

Council Reorganization

The council then considered which member hasn’t yet served as Mayor Pro Tem, previously and then who received the highest percentage of votes in the most recent election.

“The person who fits that criteria is Councilmember Wilson,” City Attorney Thomas Smith said.

“Mayor, council members, I gladly accept the nomination,” Wilson said.

On motion by Ogorchock, seconded by Barbanica, Wilson was voted in unanimously as the city’s new Mayor Pro Tem, However, the motion did not include the term, whether it be for one year or two.

New City Treasurer Lauren Posada takes her ceremonial oath of office.

Thorpe then nominated council members to various city and regional committees and with one vote for each member, all of his appointments were approved.

Two public comments including one by council watchdog Willie Mims concluded the meeting, as he congratulated the newly elected and re-elected members of the council. He said Walker surprised him because he did not think she was going to win.

“Your primary responsibilities are to the citizens of Antioch who elected you,” Mims said. “I hope that you as a council will live up to the task. Hopefully I will be able to attend some of your meetings. I’ll be watching you like I’m watching everyone else. Good luck.”

A special council meeting will be held next Tuesday night to deal with some important issues, Bernal announced.

Attorney Smith then congratulated each of the newly elected and re-elected officials.

New City Clerk takes her ceremonial oath of office before the position was turned over to her by Simonson.

Future Agenda Items Requested

For future agenda items, Ogorchock brought up the issue of offering the unused FEMA trailers to other cities and an urgency ordinance to establish a 15% cap for food delivery service companies to Antioch restaurants.

Thorpe asked council members to reach out to him, personally for future agenda items.

“Work with me so we can get them prioritized or else it’s just going to sit for six months,” he said. I will do my best to work with the city manager.”

“We do have the list, we can see the list,” Ogorchock said. “It’s in the city manager’s office. That is the policy.”

“That is the policy. I’m going to ask you to work with me directly so I can work with the city manager,” Thorpe stated.

Walker then suggested two future agenda items.

“One to address food insecurity,” she said. “Lucky’s is closing. Grocery Outlet closed down,” both located in District 1, which she represents.

“Also, I wanted to add the establishment a Human Rights and Social Equity Commission for the city,” Walker added.

“It’s best to talk to me to figure out the best way to bring it to the council for a vote,” Thorpe reiterated.

“City Attorney if we talk to…the mayor…that ties our hands in talking with other council members as it violates the Brown Act,” Ogorchock said.

Smith spoke of a serial violation by having three council members discuss a possible agenda item.

“It’s most likely permissible,” Smith said. “Specifically, mayor, city manager are responsible for setting the agenda.”

With that the council voted to adjourn with Walker saying, “I’ve never got out of a city council meeting this early,” with a chuckle, along with Thorpe.


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Due to COVID-19, new Antioch mayor, council members, city clerk and treasurer take oaths of office Tuesday afternoon

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

Mayor Lamar Thorpe was sworn in on Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 8, 2020. (Screenshot of video). He will hold a Zoom ceremony this Friday, Dec. 11 for the public to see.

Will repeat for public to see during council meeting, tonight.

By Allen Payton

Ellie Householder takes her oath as the new Antioch City Clerk, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. Video screenshot.

Due to COVID-19, the newly elected City of Antioch officials took their oaths of office, today, Tuesday afternoon at City Hall in an unceremonious way without the public watching. The new mayor, council members, city clerk and treasurer will repeat their oaths in a public ceremony during tonight’s council meeting.

Mayor Lamar Thorpe took his oath of office, administered by outgoing City Clerk Arne Simonsen at 2:00 p.m. wearing a Bernie Sanders for President shirt. A video of his swearing in can be seen on Facebook. At the end of his oath of office he said, “Alright. This is it, people.”

Above the video Thorpe posted a simple message in English and partly in Spanish, his first language, “It’s official!!!! I’m the alcalde/mayor of Antioch!”

He will be hosting a Zoom public swearing-in ceremony this Friday at 10:00 a.m. online and also via Facebook live. New City Clerk Ellie Householder will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Householder was the only other new official to post on social media about taking the oath of office, today. She posted a video on her campaign Facebook page. Simonsen administered the oath to his replacement.

Tamisha Walker, who was elected to the city council in District 1, posted on her Facebook page Monday about the ceremony occurring tonight at 8:00 p.m.

“Please join me tomorrow Tuesday December 8th at 8PM as I am sworn in virtually to as City Council Member for District 1. I officially start in January. However I have not forgotten the countless conversation I have had with residents and myself included about the neglect our community has endured.

We deserve better and I will be dedicated to make our community better and bring issues from before my time and work to resolve them during my term. I will be accountable and transparent to our community. My main goal is to engage our residents in government because government is in service to community.

Please join me virtually and submit your public comment. I want your voice to be heard and put on record for what our community needs. Join me and help us all be part of the right choice for change.”

Tamisha Walker her signed oath and cover. Photos from her Facebook page.

On Tuesday afternoon, Walker posted a brief comment on her campaign Facebook page, “This morning I took the o[a]th of office. One down two to go. I would like to thank Arne for his years of service to Antioch l, for being kind, and informative. Hope to see you all tonight at 8pm. The live stream, can be accessed at…/city-council-meetings/live/

She also posted a photo of herself, her signed Oath of Office form and the cover.

None of the other new city officials posted anything about taking their oaths today on their Facebook pages. However, when asked Councilman Mike Barbanica, elected in District 2 confirmed he was sworn in, today and said all the others were, as well.

“Tonight, they’re going to do it, again for everyone to see,” said Barbanica. “According to Arne, they had to be done in person, and then have us sign the documents.”

Asked if there are now seven council members, he said, “No. It does not take official affect until the council accepts the results of the election, first which will happen, tonight. Because of COVID everyone is having to adjust.”

Asked if he’s now the mayor, who will be running the meeting, Thorpe replied, “I’ll take over after we ratify the election,” reiterating Barbanica’s comment.

According to tonight’s (Tuesday, Dec. 8) council meeting agenda, outgoing Mayor Sean Wright and Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts will have the opportunity to offer their parting comments. The new council members will then vote for which one will be Mayor Pro Tem for the following year and will be appointed to the various city and regional committees.

The meeting can be viewed beginning at 7:00 p.m. via livestream on the city’s website or on Comcast/Xfinity Channel 24.

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Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen bids farewell as he enters “retirement”

Tuesday, December 8th, 2020

Arne Simonsen

In a Facebook post on Monday, Dec. 7, Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen wrote the following:

After 24 years in the U.S. Navy, 13 years in the private sector, 8 years on the Antioch City Council and 8 years as the elected Antioch City Clerk,

I will be entering “retirement” after losing my reelection bid by 103 votes out of just under 43,000 votes cast on December 8th.

It has been my greatest honor to work with so many outstanding City Clerks and Deputy City Clerks from all around California. I learned so much from all of you. The trainers at Nuts & Bolts, TTC under the direction of Maureen Kane, the 6 sessions of the Master Municipal Clerk & Clerk of the Board Academy under the direction of Pamela Miller, the New Law & Election Seminars, the Annual CCAC Conferences, the many Regional training opportunities and the willingness of so many City Clerks to share their experiences, advice and queries on the City Clerks Listserve made me the best City Clerk that I could be for the residents of Antioch.

You all are true professionals and I am so appreciative of your friendship.

I will remain active in the CCAC as a “retiree”. My new email address is

Lastly, I strongly encourage those seeking their CMC and MMC to get the funding in their respective budgets to continue their professional education.

Warmest regards,


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Contra Costa Elections issues official results Tuesday, Antioch Council must confirm next Tuesday

Monday, November 30th, 2020

Posada offers thanks for her slim victory; recount request deadline Tuesday, Nov. 15

Oath of Office Tuesday, Dec. 8; Mayor-elect Thorpe’s Drive-in Ceremony Friday, Dec. 11

By Allen Payton

On Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 30, the Contra Costa Elections Division issued their Nov. 3 Official Results with just a few minor changes in Antioch races. In the District 1 Council race, Tamisha Walker’s winning margin over incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts increased by another six votes to 212. In the City Clerk’s race, Antioch School Board Trustee Ellie Householder saw her lead shrink by 10 votes to 103 over incumbent Arne Simonsen. Finally, in the closest race in Antioch Lauren Posada’s lead over appointed incumbent Jim Davis shrunk by five votes to just 15 in the race for City Treasurer. She won by 50.02% to his 49.98% of the vote.

In a post on her campaign Facebook page Tuesday night, Posada offered thoughts on her victory writing, “First off, to my Lord and Savior, Jesus who made it possible, thank you! In addition, I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to everyone who supported me, who believed in me, to the residents that voted for me, those who worked the campaign alongside of me, and those who prayed for me – God bless you and your families!

During this campaign, I’ve seen and experienced so many blessings and one of them was the opportunity that it afforded me to meet and speak with the residents of the City of Antioch personally, and heard what they had to share. I look forward to serving you and our wonderful City of Antioch. We are strong when we work together in transparency and honesty!

I want to acknowledge and thank Jim Davis for his service and wish him well in his future endeavors.

Special thanks to my husband, William Posada for his heart of love, arms of support, his strong and unwavering trust in me; my parents Randy and Theresa Galusha; my Pastor, Henry Killings, Threshing Floor Tabernacle, and the wonderful team that walked the neighborhoods with us; and, to Conquer Media and their expertise in technology, social media platforms in broadcasting and the various forms of advertising the campaign.”

When asked earlier Tuesday about the deadline for requesting a recount, Assistant County Registrar of Voters, Scott Konopasek said, it’s five business days after certification. That clock begins ticking after the council accepts the results, which is expected to occur at their Dec. 8th meeting. If so, the final day to request a recount will be Tuesday, Dec. 15.

However, he’s requiring a deposit of $25,000 in order to begin a recount which, according to both Simonsen and Davis, would prohibit them from seeking one.

The new mayor, council members, city clerk and treasurer will be given their oaths of office during the Antioch City Council’s regular meeting, next Tuesday night, Dec. 8. Then a Drive-Up Swearing-In Ceremony will be hosted by Mayor-elect Lamar Thorpe on Friday, Dec. 11, from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the Antioch Marina.

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Interest in possible recount for close Antioch elections faces high cost, but can be shared by multiple candidates

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

Posada increases her lead in Treasurer’s race to 20 votes

By Allen Payton

Discussions about a possible recount for the close races in the Antioch elections, including for City Treasurer, City Clerk and District 1 City Council hit somewhat of a brick wall, due to the cost.

Current City Treasurer Jim Davis, who was trailing by just 16 votes behind challenger Lauren Posada, told the Herald, last week that a recount requires a $25,000 deposit.

Asked to confirm that amount, how recounts work and if multiple candidates asked for a recount or if there was one for all races in Antioch could they share the costs, Contra Costa County Assistant Registrar of Voters Scott Konopasek said, “The $25,000 is what I’ve been putting out there. The deposit is a one-time cost and if multiple people ask for a recount, they can share that cost.”

“For Antioch, we would have to find 45,000 cards out of 2.7 million cards, spread out over 3,500 boxes,” he explained. “So, we can do it. We just don’t know how long it will take. That’s why we have to charge so much.”

“The beauty of doing a citywide recount is they don’t have to pick this precinct or that precinct. We will count all the precincts since we’ll have all the cards,” Konopasek further explained.

“Anything we don’t consume in labor costs will be refunded back,” he added.

Konopasek also confirmed that “if there is a change in who wins, the person who requested it gets a full refund.”

However, the only race that has a possibility of a change in winner is the treasurer’s race and $25,000 is more than both candidates spent on their campaigns, combined.

UPDATE: When asked what is the deadline for requesting a recount, Konopasek said, it’s five business days after certification. That clock begins ticking after the council accepts the results, which is expected at their Dec. 8th meeting. So, the final day to request a recount should be Tuesday, Dec. 15.

According to the Semi-Official Elections Update #5 posted today at 2:48 p.m., it shows Posada has increased her lead to 20 votes, with 21,136 to Davis’ 21,116 votes.

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Challenger Lauren Posada overtakes Jim Davis by 16 votes in Antioch Treasurer’s race

Friday, November 20th, 2020

Semi-Official Results Update #4 shows Lauren Posada pulling ahead by 16 votes in the race for Antioch City Treasurer on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020.

Householder expands her lead over Arne Simonsen in the City Clerk’s race; Walker also expands her lead over Motts in District 1 Council race

By Allen Payton

With 1,200 ballots left to count countywide, as of today’s Semi-Official Results Update #4 from the Contra Costa Elections Division, newcomer and challenger Lauren Posada has pulled ahead of appointed incumbent Jim Davis by just 16 votes in the race for Antioch City Treasurer. Posada now has 21,074 votes and he has 21,058.

In the City Clerk’s race Antioch School Board Trustee Ellie Householder has increased her lead over incumbent Arne Simonsen to 113 votes. Householder has 16,667 votes to his 16,554.

A total of 42,472 votes were cast in the Clerk’s race, 42,132 in the Treasurer’s race and 44,400 in the race for Mayor of Antioch, which was more than the total of 42,989 votes that were cast in all four of the council races

Efforts to reach Lauren Posada for comment was unsuccessful prior to publication.

An attempt to reach Simonsen asking if he was ready to offer Householder congratulations or considering requesting a recount was also unsuccessful. However, in a post on his Facebook page Friday afternoon, Simonsen appears to have conceded the election writing, “Well, it appears that the voters in Antioch are going to let me retire and spend more time in Scotland.”

When asked if was considering requesting a recount, Davis responded, “A recount would be too expensive.” Asked how much he said, “$25,000 deposit to start. The county eats the fee (no charge to the candidate) if it results in a change of outcome. California is one of the few states that don’t provide for automatic recount even if under 0.5% which is about where I’m at.”

Asked if he was going to congratulate Posada, now or wait until the election is certified, Davis responded “once certified.”

Davis said he was “disappointed that she slandered me. I saw where she alluded that I was not transparent and not trustworthy. Do you realize she stands to collect two retirement contributions now, and receive compensation for half of her medical benefit as a cash payment monthly? Sounds like double dipping to me.”

Asked why he didn’t bring that out during the campaign, he didn’t respond. But Davis continued his comments about his opponent with, “She said repeatedly in her FB posts. ‘I’m your transparent and trustworthy City Treasure Candidate.’”

“Plus, there is still the conflict of interest. Maybe not legal – but certainly the perception and potential conflict of interest,” Davis shared. “Back in the day that was not good for any politician. But what used to be bad is now good, and what used to be good is now bad in politics. The world is changing…at least in Antioch.”

City Council District 1

In the only other close race in Antioch, newcomer Tamisha Walker solidified her winning lead over incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts to 206 votes in the District 1 City Council race. Walker has 2,668 votes to Motts’ 2,462. Former Antioch Mayor Pro Tem Manny Soliz is in a close third place with 2,400 votes exactly making it the closest race out of the four for city council.

On her campaign Facebook page on Friday, Nov. 13 Walker wrote, “WE DID IT! Thank you, Antioch District 1! This victory is for us!

I am so excited and honored to represent my neighborhood of District 1 in bringing our issues to city council and begin working at improving the quality of life in Antioch for all residents.

This election is only the beginning!

This campaign and movement is a grassroots community effort and Antioch we have organizing to do together.

Like the Antioch Together Car Caravan we will drive hate out of Antioch together. Together we will inspire compassion and courage across all of Antioch for each other and for our future generations to benefit from.

We are still going to need to show up for each other beyond the polls! The change we want is the change we work for. We need all our communities in the other districts to come together and make sure that citywide policies are equitable, fair and just.

To my neighbors in District 1, Thank you to every voter for showing up at the polls whether you voted for Joy, Manuel, or me, your vote means a lot to our immediate future and wellbeing of Antioch!

I look forward to showing up for you the way you showed up on Election Day!

Thank You Antioch!

We will be hosting a Virtual Live Celebration soon! Stay Tuned!

#Readytowin, #elections2020, #antioch, #leadership, # grassroots, #fundwomen

The seats for both Walker and Councilwoman Monica Wilson, who was re-elected in District 4, will be up for election, again in 2022.

An attempt to reach Motts asking if she will now offer congratulations to Walker, as she hasn’t yet posted one on either of her Facebook pages, or if she’s considering requesting a recount, was also unsuccessful prior to publication.

The county Elections Division has 28 days to certify the election and ballots could still arrive up  until today and still be counted, as long as they were postmarked by Election Day. One more final update is expected in the next week. According to Assistant Registrar of Voters, Scott Konopasek “certification…is expected to be November 30. All results remain unofficial until certification.”

Please check back later for any updates to this report.



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Outgoing Antioch School Board trustees receive praise, offer a few digs in their parting remarks

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Diane Gibson-Gray and Crystal Sawyer-White received praise and offered their farewell thoughts Wednesday night, Nov. 18, 2020. Herald file photos.

Board unanimously re-appoints Tony Tiscareno to district Personnel Commission

Allen Payton

During the Antioch School Board meeting Wednesday night, Nov. 18, 2020, outgoing Board President Diane Gibson-Gray and Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White offered their good-byes and received messages of thanks for their service. Both lost their races for re-election, this year. (See related article)

Gibson-Gray is completing three terms for a total of 12 years on the board, and Sawyer-White is completing her first. The winners in the election, Antonio Hernandez and Dr. Clyde Lewis, Jr. will take their seats during the first board meeting on December 16.

“I would like to thank Trustee Sawyer-White for her four years of service and Trustee Gibson-Gray for her 12 years of service. We wish you the very best,” said Superintendent Stephanie Anello. “It’s sometimes a thankless position. I know both of you have faced some very difficult decisions during your terms. So, I commend you.”

That was followed by several public comments, almost all thanking Gibson-Gray for her work as a board member.

“I’m overwhelmed by the comments,” Gibson-Gray responded.

The board members spoke, next.

“I would like to say thank you to each of you for being on the board and all that you’ve done. I’m a better board member for you being on the board and the kids are better in Antioch,” said Trustee Gary Hack.

“I feel the same,” said Trustee Mary Rocha. “It’s hard because I haven’t been here, that long. I appreciate you, Crystal for your commitment to special education.

“To Diane, we’ve been together a long time. When we’re leaving a position, as I have, it seems something is lifted off our shoulders. Head Start, Antioch-Pittsburg Head Start wanted to thank you for all the time you’ve given…for the families in this community. We were able to expand thanks to you.

Trustee Ellie Householder then read from prepared remarks, “I want to start off by thanking President Gibson-Gray for her service of 12 years to our school district. We haven’t always seen eye to eye. But that’s the beauty of our democracy. I wish you the very best.”

“I am so incredibly thankful to Trustee Sawyer-White,” Householder said. “She then spoke of “her lifting up marginalized voices…and lastly her warmth and compassion.”

“Trustee Sawyer-White, I want to add that we didn’t always agree on items, but during the meetings I believe we always treated each other with dignity and respect,” Gibson-Gray shared. “I wish you all the best, sincerely.”

“I agree we didn’t always meet eye to eye but it’s always about the students,” Sawyer-White responded. “Your 12 years on the board are to be commended.”

Staff then shared their thanks to both board members.

That was followed by Sawyer-White’s final response.

“I want to thank my husband, my mom, my dad, my family members and the community members who supported me during my entire term,” she said, and then congratulated the winners in the election, Dr. Clyde Lewis and Antonio Hernandez. “I recommend you always stay true to yourself.”

“Our effort to seek transparency will not be in vain,” Sawyer-White continued. She said her term has been “rewarding, humbling and tumultuous.  Some of the incumbents continue to allow the superintendent to disregard her accountability at the detriment of best interests of AUSD students. Based on the California School Boards Association, Superintendent Anello should have had four performance reviews and currently there’s only been one from, for the last four years, each year.”

“Although I didn’t have the opportunity to serve as president, but I would publicly like to state, Trustee Householder should fill my shoes,” she added.

“After 12 years of service, I am leaving with more knowledge of how school boards work on all levels and many more friends,” Gibson-Gray said in her farewell remarks. She mentioned her last four years were difficult and “the last two being the hardest,” “having my personal character and values attacked. I can assure you I am not a racist.” She then referred to a previous comment by Householder about her age.

“To those who disagreed with my decisions, I apologize,” Gibson-Gray continued. “But every one of my decisions were in the best interest of the Antioch Unified School District. I’m proud to say I attended every graduation during my 12  years. Antonio Hernandez and Clyde Lewis will do a great job replacing myself and Trustee Sawyer-White. They are younger, enthusiastic and have ideas to be explored.”

“Like Elvis, I am leaving the building and the school board will be in good hands,” she concluded.

Gibson-Gray later responded to Sawyer-White’s comments about Anello’s performance reviews explaining, “She received a performance review each year as is required. Crystal wanted us to give her four performance reviews each year.”

Other Board Action

The board then discussed the re-appointment of former Antioch City Councilman Tony Tiscareno to the district’s Personnel Commission to a three-year term.

Rocha made the motion and Householder seconded it. She then asked to hear from Tiscareno. How are we going to move forward without having people talk?”

“We had interviews, the last time because it was an open seat,” said Assistant Superintendent Jessica Romeo.

The motion passed on a 5-0 vote.

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