Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

New Antioch School Board Trustees sworn in, but not when it was publicly announced and scheduled

Thursday, December 15th, 2016
Few people were in attendance when new Antioch School Board Trustee is given her oath of office by County Supervisor Federal Glover during a special session, before the regular Board meeting, Wednesday night, December 14, 2016. Photo by Debra Vinson.

Few people were in attendance when new Antioch School Board Trustee is given her oath of office by County Supervisor Federal Glover, as district staff look on, during a special session, before the regular Board meeting, Wednesday night, December 14, 2016. Photo by Debra Vinson.

Former board members got send off during November 16 meeting before term ended, also without being on agenda

By Allen Payton

The new members of the Antioch School Board, Crystal Sawyer-White and Gary Hack, along with Diane Gibson-Gray who was re-elected to a third term in November, took their oaths of office, this week. But, not when they were supposed to according to Wednesday night’s board meeting agenda.

The oaths were scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at the beginning of the board’s regular meeting, but Hack, who the voters returned to the board after having lost his re-election bid in 2014, and Gibson-Gray were sworn in on Tuesday, according to Superintendent Stephanie Anello. She said Hack thought he was going to have a scheduling conflict.

Sawyer-White, who received the most votes in the school board race in the November election, was given her oath by County Supervisor Federal Glover at 6:00 p.m. prior to the board’s previously scheduled closed session. Only her husband Casper and a few others were in attendance.

When asked if the public or media was informed of the change in schedule for the oaths of office for the new and returning board members, and why it wasn’t on the agenda for 6:00 p.m., Anello stated, “We don’t have to.” She later said her answer was in response to not having “it on the agenda prior to closed session, not about informing the media.”

Asked when Sawyer-White’s oath ceremony had been rescheduled after the meeting agenda was published on Friday, December 10th, Anello said she would respond later today. Sawyer-White said “Nancy (Stephanie’s Admin)…asked if I could be sworn in at 5:45 with Stephanie. I preferred Federal Glover and we decided 6:00 p.m. after all the confusion.”

Asked again about when the change in scheduling of her oath ceremony occurred, Sawyer-White responded, “I am not sure which day. Nancy would know. Nancy sent out all the emails.”

When contacted about the matter, Nancy Belleci, Senior Executive Assistant for Anello, did not respond.

UPDATE 1: However, Anello did respond, Thursday afternoon, as she said she would.

“We sent an email to all three incoming Board Members approximately a week ago stating that they would need to be sworn in prior to Closed Session Wednesday night which was scheduled for 6:20 pm. We figured that 6:00 pm would be enough time for all three to be sworn in,” she said. “Tuesday, both Gary and Diane asked if I could administer the oath that day rather than prior to Wednesday’s meeting.”

“We then contacted Crystal to let her know that if it was more convenient for her to come at 6:15 pm. we could administer the oath then as Gary and Diane had already been sworn in,” Anello continued. “She said she needed to come at 6:00 pm since Federal Glover was swearing her in and he had another commitment.”

“The ceremonial oath of office was agendized,” she added. “None of the three Board Members felt they needed to participate in a ceremonial swearing in.”

She was then asked why then did the agenda which was sent out on Friday, two days later, show the oaths of office during the regular meeting that started at 7:00 p.m.

“Because in the past, Board Members wanted to have a second ceremonial swearing in after closed session when more people may be present,” Anello explained. “The three incoming Board Members declined.”

But, that was for a re-enactment ceremony, which is not how the item was listed on the agenda at 7:00 p.m.

The item on the agenda for the regular meeting was listed as a “Ceremonial Oath of Office.”

5. Recall to Open Session – 7:00 PM

A. Reports from Closed Session

B. Flag Salute

C. Ceremonial Oath of Office – Diane Gibson-Gray, Gary Hack, Crystal Sawyer-White

The confusion lay in the use of the term “ceremonial” by Anello and the new board members, to refer to the re-enactment of the actual oaths of office which occurred earlier. There was no oath of office ceremony for the public to be aware of and attend.

Former Board Members’ Farewell

The two former board members who were not elected in November, Fernando Navarro and Alonzo Terry, did not attend Wednesday night’s meeting, as they were given their farewell send-off at the board’s meeting on November 16, according to Anello. However, it wasn’t on that meeting’s agenda for the public to know.

Navarro said he refused to have his photo, which was hanging on the wall inside the district office, given to him that night, since he and Terry were still on the board and continued serving until the new members took their oaths of office. He saw the effort as an attempt to demonstrate that the two of them were no longer on the board, so that they could not vote on the Rocketship Education charter petition at the board’s meeting held on Wednesday, December 7.

Asked if they were going to be recognized at the Wednesday’s meeting, Anello said, “They were recognized by Board Members and myself at our last regularly scheduled meeting.”

Asked if it was on the agenda, she responded, “My administrative assistant sent them an email letting them know that we would be recognizing them at our last regularly scheduled board meeting as we have done for all other outgoing board members in past years. Fernando said it would be inappropriate and that he would come pick up his picture at a later date. He said he spoke for both he and Alonzo. Thus, during my comments I acknowledged and thanked them for their service. Other Board members thanked them during their comments.”

According to Navarro, following the comments made by Walter Ruehlig and Debra Vinson, Gibson-Gray’s was merely, “ditto.”

I’m sorry if it appeared to…Fernando like it was a political move to formally recognize them as we had done in the past in order to send an inferred message of powerlessness,” Anello added. “I can assure you that from my perspective that was absolutely not the case. I didn’t always agree with them — nor they me, but I enjoyed working with them.”

However, Gibson-Gray did make an attempt, as board president at the time, to get Ruehlig and Vinson to join her in swearing in the new board members at the meeting on December 7th, prior to the vote on the Rocketship petition.

While the state Education Code states that terms of school board members end on the first Friday in December after the election, it also states that they serve until the new members are qualified. That has been interpreted to mean when the new members are given their oaths of office.

So, there was no formal, dignified ceremony of the transfer of power by the Antioch School Board as happened last Thursday, by the Antioch City Council. A video of Sawyer-White’s oath of office, taken by her husband Casper, can be viewed on the Antioch Herald’s Facebook page.

UPDATE 2: However, as of Thursday afternoon, Sawyer-White said that new Board Vice President Debra Vinson told her that a ceremony for the new board members and and a re-enactment of the oaths of office will be held Jan. 25th. That was confirmed by new Board President Walter Ruehlig, who wrote via email, “More details to follow.”


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Rocketship vote question answered, current Board members serve until new ones sworn in

Monday, December 12th, 2016

By Allen Payton

Questions surrounding the Antioch School Board’s vote to approve the Rocketship Education charter petition at last Wednesday night’s special meeting were raised at the meeting and since then. Some have asked and considered challenging if there was a quorum of members, since current Trustees Diane Gibson-Gray, Fernando Navarro and Alonzo Terry’s terms ended on Friday, December 2nd, according to one part of the state Education Code. Both Navarro and Terry lost their bids for election. While Gibson-Gray was re-elected, she won’t take the oath of office for her new term, along with the other two election winners, Crystal Sawyer-White and Gary Hack, until this Wednesday night, December 14.

The portion of Education Code Section 5017 which has caused people to call into question the Rocketship vote, reads “Each person elected at a regular biennial governing board member election shall hold office for a term of four years commencing on the first Friday in December next succeeding his or her election.”

Therefore, they conclude there were only two voting, current members of the Board – Vice President Walter Ruehlig and Trustee Debra Vinson – at the meeting and voting on the charter school petition.

However, the rest of that section reads, “Any member of the governing board of a school district or community college district whose term has expired shall continue to discharge the duties of the office until his or her successor has qualified. The term of the successor shall begin upon the expiration of the term of his or her predecessor.”

That begged the question of what is the definition of “qualified.”

Antioch Unified School District Superintendent Stephanie Anello answered that question, today, Monday, December 12, 2016. In an email, she providing the following explain and define the various terms and how they apply to the school board election:

“‘Qualifying’ for Office

Though the law does not explicitly state what is meant by the term ‘qualify,’ many counties interpret it to mean (1) the individual won the election, and (2) the individual has taken the oath of office. Technically, an individual has not ‘won’ the election until the election results are ‘certified.’

‘Certifying’ Election Results

The elections office must provide a certified statement of the results of the election to the District within 30 days of the election. (Elec. Code, § 15372.) The law is unclear whether the election results must be ‘certified’ prior to newly elected board members assuming office pursuant to Education Code section 5017. (According to County Clerk Joe Canciamilla, the election was certified last Tuesday, December 6, 2016).

‘Declaring’ Election Results

Separate and apart from the certification requirement, Elections Code section 15400 requires the ‘governing body’ to officially ‘declare’ the winner of the election. While section 15400 does not specify who the ‘governing body’ official is, generally the county board of supervisors will ‘declare’ the winner shortly after the election. Such is the case for the District. Unlike certification, there is no express deadline or timeline for the declaration of election.

Our legal counsel advised that they recommended that the new Board be sworn in after the certification of the results. However, they also advised that a district or other entity may choose to wait until the winners are declared to avoid a situation in which the winner appeared to be one individual when, in fact, it was another.”

So, the vote on the Rocketship charter petition by the current Board of Trustees was valid, they had a quorum of members in order to take the vote that night. However, the situation could have been avoided had the Board held the required to vote on the Rocketship petition on November 28th, meeting – within the 60-day limit after receiving the petition on September 30th – as it was originally scheduled.

An attempt was made last Monday, December 5th, by current Board President Gibson-Gray to have the new trustees sworn in last Wednesday night, before the vote on the Rocketship charter petition, when she called Ruehlig and asked him to discuss it with Vinson and to decide if they wanted to do that and let her know. (That created a violation of the state’s Brown Act open meeting law, by holding a serial meeting in private of a majority of board members. Both Ruehlig and Vinson say they rejected the idea. That matter will be the subject of a separate article.) But, her term had also expired on Friday, December 2nd, so any action by her could have also been challenged, if the new board was sworn in and the Rocketship charter petition vote had failed. But, that won’t occur until this Wednesday, December 14 at 7:00 p.m. during the regular school board meeting, at the School Services Building, 510 G Street in downtown Antioch when Sawyer-White, Gibson-Gray and Hack all are given their oaths of office.


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Antioch gets new Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem during ceremonies Thursday night

Friday, December 9th, 2016
Dr. Sean Wright takes the oath of office administered by his uncle, Oakley Mayor Kevin Romick, with Wright's wife Lani holding the Bible, and their children by his side, during ceremonies, Thursday night. Photo by Michael Pohl.

Dr. Sean Wright takes the oath of office administered by his uncle, Oakley Mayor Kevin Romick, with Wright’s wife Lani holding the Bible, and their five children by his side, during ceremonies, Thursday night. Photo by Michael Pohl.

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.

Lamar Thorpe, with his wife Pat and their daughter Kennedy by his side, was given his oath of office by Supervisor-elect Diane Burgis. Photo by Michael Pohl.

Lamar Thorpe, with his wife Pat and their daughter Kennedy by his side, was given his oath of office by Supervisor-elect Diane Burgis. Photo by Michael Pohl.

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.

Re-elected Councilwoman Monica Wilson is given her oath of office by her brother Terrance, while their mother and Uncle

Re-elected Councilwoman Monica Wilson is given her oath of office by her brother Terrance, while their mother and Uncle Bob. P

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.



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Contra Costa DA Peterson reaches agreement with FPPC to pay $45,000 fine for personal use of campaign funds

Thursday, December 8th, 2016
Peterson, courtesy CCCDA's Office

Peterson, courtesy CCCDA’s Office

Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson announced on Monday that he had reached an agreement with the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission regarding use of campaign funds during 2011-2015.  The Enforcement Division will present the agreement to the Commission for its approval on December 15, 2016.

Following is his statement on the matter:

“I served as the treasurer of my own campaign committee from 2011 until 2015, after which I hired a professional paid treasurer. During that five-year period, I borrowed, in increments, a total of $66,373 from the Mark Peterson for District Attorney 2014 Committee.   I used the funds to pay for day-to-day expenses, like meals, gas, cell phone bills, and other personal expenses.  I considered the money a loan, kept track of those expenses at all times, made periodic repayments, and over time, repaid the Committee in full.

In 2015, the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) contacted me about a routine audit. In response, I hired a professional treasurer and immediately contacted the Enforcement Division of the FPPC to make them aware of the expenditures and my plan to address my error.  I cooperated fully and provided my contemporaneous records regarding the expenditures and reimbursements for their review, as well as all of the underlying documents.

The FPPC Enforcement Division has noted: ‘To his credit, upon learning of the FTB audit Peterson contacted the Enforcement Division, admitted his violations and fully cooperated with the investigation.’

It is with disappointment and regret that I acknowledge the mistakes I made regarding my campaign financing account.  As a result of these mistakes, I have agreed to pay the Fair Political Practices Commission a $45,000 administrative fine.

Although I have fully reimbursed the Committee for all of the personal expenditures, I make no excuses.

I am humbled and embarrassed by my mistakes, for which I take full responsibility, and I apologize for my regrettable errors.”

Mark Peterson, Contra Costa County District Attorney

In a further comment about the matter he said, “This matter is still under consideration by the FPPC, so this is the only public comment I am making on the matter.”


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Wright, Thorpe, Wilson to be sworn in at special Antioch Council meeting, this Thursday, Dec. 8

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

By Allen Payton

The oath of office ceremony for incoming mayor, Dr. Sean Wright, re-elected councilwoman Monica Wilson and new councilman Lamar Thorpe is scheduled for this Thursday, December 8 during a special meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Although it’s not being held on the customary and traditional second Tuesday of December, following the certification of election, there is precedent for holding a special meeting to swear in a new mayor and council members, as happened in 2012.

Wright said that the meeting will be streamed live on the City’s website and if not shown live on Comcast local cable TV channel 24, like regular council meetings, it will be recorded for airing later, so that more Antioch residents who want to can watch.

But, while the the meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m., according to the agenda under Item 1,  “If Certification for the November 8, 2016 election is received from the Contra Costa County Election Department prior to the Council’s December 8th Special Meeting, Staff recommends the Council adopt the resolution confirming the results of the November 8, 2016 General Election. If Certification is not received, Staff recommends continuing the item to a future meeting.”

Yet, according to the Elections Code section, which City Manager Steve Duran provided, when asked about scheduling the oaths of office on the 8th – which has been in the works for awhile – instead of the next regular council meeting on Tuesday, December 13th, it states the canvass must be completed before installing new officers.

10263. Upon the completion of the canvass and before installing the new officers, the governing body shall adopt a resolution reciting the fact of the election and the other matters that are enumerated in Section 10264. The governing body shall declare elected the persons for whom the highest number of votes were cast for each office.

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), the governing body shall meet at its usual place of meeting no later than the fourth Friday after the election to declare the results and to install the newly elected officers.

(b) For a consolidated election, the governing body shall meet at its usual place of meeting no later than the next regularly scheduled city council meeting following presentation of the 28-day canvass of the returns, or at a special meeting called for this purpose, to declare the results and to install the newly elected officers.

Therefore, if certification is not received and voted on by the council on Thursday night and must be continued to a future meeting, then the oaths of office must also be continued to a future meeting, both of which would have to occur next Tuesday, Dec. 13th, which is the “next regularly scheduled city council meeting following presentation of the 28-day canvass of the returns.”

One cannot be done without the other occurring first, which is why the certification is on the agenda prior to the the ceremony, unless the oaths performed on Thursday night would merely be ceremonial. If so, the new mayor-elect and council member-elect would not be able to take their seats and the reorganization of the Council, under agenda Item 2 couldn’t occur and would have to also be postponed until next Tuesday.

However, in response to an email asking about the matter and if the canvass of returns also referred to as the certification of the election, will be done by this Thursday at 5:00 p.m., Duran responded, “The City is the governing body for the City election, even though the election was consolidated. The Elections Office said they will certify today.”

County Clerk Joe Canciamilla confirmed that, today, as well.

“We are done and just in the process of completing the paperwork necessary to send off to the SOS (Secretary of State),” he said this morning. “Certification will be official shortly and Arne was previously advised he could pick up his packet at 3 pm or thereafter.”

That advisement occurred in a letter Canciamilla sent out to city clerks and elections officials in the county, last month.

As for why the ceremony is being held this Thursday, instead of on the regular council meeting night, as some Antioch residents have been wondering, Duran had said previously it’s because the agenda was filling up and there wasn’t enough room or time for the ceremony, next Tuesday.

City Clerk Arne Simonsen confirmed that, today.

“Yes, the meeting on the 13th is a long one with closed session at 5:30 pm, an alphabet soup of items on consent and four public hearing items, in addition to regular agenda items,” he said. “That is why the decision was made to have the swearing in on the 8th.”

When asked why there couldn’t have been a special council meeting, next Thursday, December 15th to deal with the agenda items that couldn’t get done on the 13th, so the ceremony could be held that night, neither Duran nor Mayor Wade Harper, who in his position works with the city manager to set council agendas, did not respond.

When asked if he was included in the decision for holding the oath of office ceremony on Thursday, Wright responded, “As the Mayor elect I am very happy with the way that the swearing in ceremony is taking shape.  The meeting will be recorded and streamed live on our website so that citizens and family members who are unable to attend can watch. I have also been told that they are working with CCTV to broadcast live as well.”

“As we worked together to find a time that worked for our families and supporters the 5 PM start worked well and showed a willingness to compromise,” he continued. “I would love this meeting to be a celebration of a new beginning for me as Mayor and our council.  I hope that it can be free of controversy and be the beginning of a positive future for Antioch.”

“In such a close election with the results not giving us a clear cut winner until this weekend, I have not presumed victory and therefore not sat down with city staff and elected council members,” Wright explained.“This definitely puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to agendas but I have been in talks with Arne Simonsen today regarding this Thursday’s agenda and will sit down with Steve tomorrow to go over Thursday and next Tuesday’s agenda.  I am attempting to meet with council members this week and will make sure that I have a say in what is on the agenda and am ready to discuss those items included for Tuesday the 13th.”

“Again I will reiterate the hope that this Thursday is a celebration of a new council with a positive fresh start,” he added.

However, council meeting agendas only require a 72-hour public notice. Since the final results of the election were known last Saturday night, they could have waited to work with the new mayor-elect to set the agenda for either next Tuesday and/or this Thursday. Even if the results weren’t certified until Thursday, as Canciamilla’s office has the legal limit to do, next Tuesday’s council meeting agenda could have been decided that day, with the mayor-elect included.

Wright also had to make sure it was at 5:00 p.m., so he can attend his children’s school Christmas plays, later that night. In addition, the Antioch Chamber of Commerce had to move back by a half-hour, their annual Chairman’s Mixer to start at 5:30 p.m., so as not to conflict with the ceremony. Plus, since Duran and Harper had been planning for awhile to hold the ceremony and council reorganization this week, instead of waiting to find out who the new mayor would be and including him in the planning of the ceremony and the agenda for his first meeting on the 13th, Wilson had scheduled people to fly in to attend it on Thursday.

“All oaths of office will be performed at the same meeting,” Wright said. “The Chamber also worked with us and was flexible with the start time of the Mixer to allow those that wanted to attend both meetings the opportunity to do so.  Those wanting to join the Chairman’s Mixer following the meeting are welcome to attend.”

That will be hosted by new Chamber CEO and outgoing chairman, Richard Pagano and held at Tailgaters in Antioch.

So, beginning this Thursday, December 8th at 5:00 p.m., Antioch will have a new mayor and mayor pro tem, as Thorpe garnering the most votes in the council race, will be granted that two-year title, according to city ordinance, by a perfunctory vote of the council. The two new members will join Wilson, current Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock, and Councilman Tony Tiscareno, both of whom aren’t up for re-election until 2018.

The council reorganization will include a brief bit of what will appear to be musical chairs as the members literally change seats. But, it will not include the nomination of council members by Wright to various city committees and regional boards on which they represent the city. Those require a vote of approval by the council and, according to Simonsen, they will be on the agenda for the January 10th council meeting.

The Council Chambers at City Hall are located at 3rd and H Streets, between 2nd and 3rd in Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown.

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It’s over, it’s all over and Antioch will have a new Mayor, Dr. Sean Wright

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Antioch Mayor-Elect Dr. Sean Wright, his wife Lani and their five children participated in the annual Holiday DeLites Parade, as they awaited the final election results, on Saturday, December 3, 2016.

“As exciting as any sports game I’ve ever been to” – Sean Wright

By Allen Payton

In the words of legendary sports announcer Howard Cosell, it’s over, it’s all over. After waiting almost four weeks, as the Contra Costa County Elections office counted the estimated 180,000 remaining ballots in the county not counted on Election Night, the people of Antioch finally learned on Saturday, they will have a new mayor.

The final election results in the race for Mayor of Antioch, posted on the County Elections website at 6:29 p.m., Saturday, December 3, 2016.

The final election results in the race for Mayor of Antioch, posted on the County Elections website at 6:29 p.m., Saturday, December 3, 2016.

With no more votes to count, according to County Clerk and Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla, Dr. Sean Wright has achieved victory over incumbent Mayor Wade Harper by just 67 votes. Wright garnered a total of 11,497 votes to Harper’s 11,430.

“I’m excited to serve the citizens of Antioch and looking to work with everybody in a team effort to make this a place that all of our friends want to live,” Wright said after hearing the news. “I’m tired of my friends moving. We all have friends that have left us.”

About the wait for the final results, he said with a laugh, “This was as exciting as any sports game I’ve ever been to, except it took three-and-a-half weeks to find a winner.”

“I want to thank the other candidates for their graciousness, and thank Wade for his graciousness and class in this close election,” Wright continued.

Initially trailing on Election Night by over 300 votes, Wright ended up in the lead, and then ahead by 259 votes with the first update on Thursday, November 10th. But, with every subsequent ballot count update, Wright’s lead continued to dwindle.

What was expected to be the final update on Friday, December 2nd, it showed Wright’s lead down to just 71 votes. By the second update that night at about 7:00 p.m., his lead had shrunk again to just 58 votes. But, with the final ballots counted in the entire county, Wright gained nine more votes to finish with a 67-vote victory on Saturday night, just as the annual Antioch Holiday DeLites Celebration ended, at the conclusion of the Lighted Boat Parade on the river.

“This election proves that every single vote matters,” he added. “When you’re considering voting, learn, pay attention and vote, because every vote matters.”

Wright will join Lamar Thorpe, who took first place in the City Council race and will be the city’s new Mayor Pro Tem, as well as Councilwoman Monica Wilson, who was re-elected to her second term, plus current Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock and Councilman Tony Tiscareno, on the council.



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Antioch man appointed to Contra Costa Community College Board to fill the late John Nejedly’s Ward IV seat

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016
Gary Walker-Roberts in a screenshot from a video on the CCCCD website.

Gary Walker-Roberts in a screenshot from a video on the CCCCD website.

MARTINEZ, CA – At their November 29, 2016, special meeting, the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board unanimously approved the provisional appointment of Gary Walker-Roberts of Antioch to represent Ward IV.  This appointment, in accordance with California Education Code 5091, is being made due to the vacancy created by the unfortunate passing of Governing Board member John T. Nejedly last month. Ward IV includes the communities of Blackhawk, Byron, Danville, Diablo, Discovery Bay, San Ramon, and parts of Alamo, Antioch, Brentwood, Clayton, and Concord.

Walker-Roberts will be seated at the next regular Governing Board meeting on Wednesday, December 14, 2016, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Walker-Roberts is an alum of Los Medanos College where he graduated Suma Cum Laude in 2013 with an A.A. in Behavioral Science and Social Science. Then he graduated again from LMC with an A.A. in Arts & Humanities in 2015. He served on the community college board as a student trustee this past school year, was student body president of LMC in 2014-15, student representative to the United Faculty, and was instrumental in the formation and opening of the Veterans Resource Center at LMC, earlier this year.

Walker-Roberts also graduated Cum Laude with a B.A. degree in Ethnic Studies: Gender & Sexuality from Cal State East Bay in 2015 and with a Masters degree in English from Arizona State University, this year.

His public service has included working on Antioch Councilwoman Monica Wilson’s reelection campaign, this year and as a volunteer and mentor for foster youth with Contra Costa County Children & Family Services.

With his application, Walker-Roberts submitted letters of support from both Wilson and State Assemblyman Jim Frazier.

He works in retail as a Fragrance Expert/Trainer for Louis Vuitton, USA in San Francisco and has worked in the field of skin care and cosmetics since 2005.

When reached for comment, Walker-Roberts said, “I’m looking forward to serving Ward IV from East Contra Costa County all the way around Mt. Diablo to southern Contra Costa County. I appreciate that the trustees feel I can handle the position of trustee.”

Asked what his plans are in the new position, he stated, “I want to continue to represent under-represented minority students’ needs and also continue to develop the Veterans Resource Centers throughout the district. We’re working with the Sentinels of Freedom to open one at each of the three college campuses.”

Other applicants considered for the provisional appointment were non-profit manager and educator Carl Nichols, litigation attorney Jerome Pandell and barber college owner Frank Quattro, all of Danville, and Director of the STEM-Workforce Initiative of the Contra Costa Economic Partnership, April Treece of Clayton. To see the application from and letters of support for each candidate, click here.

Unless a petition calling for a special election, containing a sufficient number of signatures, is filed in the Office of County Superintendent of Schools within 30 days of the date of the provisional appointment, the provisional appointment shall become an effective appointment until the next regularly scheduled election for Governing Board members in November 2018.

For more details on the petition process, visit the District website at

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Antioch Mayor’s race “too close to call” as Wright’s lead slips to 102 votes over Harper

Thursday, November 24th, 2016
From the Contra Costa County Elections website.

From the Contra Costa County Elections website.

By Allen Payton

According to the Contra Costa County Elections website, as of 10:43 am, Wednesday, November 23rd, Dr. Sean Wright maintains his lead in the race for Mayor of Antioch. But it has shrunk to just 102 votes or .34% of the vote over incumbent Mayor Wade Harper. There are  “approximately 8,500 ballots to be repaired and 28,000 provisionals county wide,” said County Clerk & Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla. The final vote count is expected to be completed by Friday, December 2nd.

“I can call all the races right now in the county except for Antioch Mayor,” he continued. “We’re down to ballots that have come in at different times. Ballots with mistakes could have come in at any time. Provisional ballots tend to come in late, generally on Election Day.”

“There are two different trends happening,” Canciamilla explained.” If you look at Election Day results, Sean does better. So I would have to think he does better with provisionals. But I don’t know how many are from Antioch.

There are roughly 607,000 registered voters in the county. We had 442,000 who have cast a ballot. We had a turnout of almost 73%. So a rough number is 11% of the provisionals come from Antioch. Those should theoretically trend in Sean’s favor.”

“All the other races are callable with the exception of Antioch,” he stated. “It is the election that will represent the slogan that ‘every vote does count.’ Every vote could impact the final outcome and it could go either way, right now.”

He was asked how many ballots had been counted since the last update.

“I believe in that batch it was 9,200 ballots that were counted,” Canciamilla responded. “If you extrapolate the traditional line you get to the point where Wade wins. But that doesn’t take into account the Election Day trend which favored Sean. But we’re at the point where there’s no clear, consistent trend that would allow us to make anything close to a valid projection. It’s going to be slogging through and counting them one by one, now.”

“We have multiple sets of eyes looking at each ballot,” he added.

He was then asked if representatives of each campaign can be there to oversee the counting.

“We always welcome observers,” he replied. “Each ballot has to be handled one at a time, and they get handled by multiple people and it just takes time.”

Asked if observers can challenge ballots, he said, “No. The law doesn’t allow observers to challenge an individual ballot, an individual signature match. You can raise issues and they’re entitled to an explanation.”

“At this stage there are very few ballots like that,” Canciamilla continued. “That’s usually over voter registration where it’s a question of if someone is registered or not. This is about whether people have drawn an arrow or crossed something out. If there’s a mistake or a double vote on one item we don’t throw out the whole ballot.”

He was then asked when will the ballot count be completed.

“We anticipate we will have our final unofficial count by next Friday (December 2nd),” he shared. “Then we’ll certify it by the 6th for the presidential election and until the 8th for everything else.”

“Then it goes to the Board of Supervisors on the 13th for their acceptance,” Canciamilla explained. “It will be done that morning.”

Asked about when oaths of office ceremonies could be held, he responded, “We advised the cities, and the school and special districts early on. I sent them a letter that due to the complexity of the ballot, we anticipate requiring the full 30 days to certify the election. So don’t plan on swearing in their folks early, like the week before.”

Asked when is the soonest new officials can be sworn in Canciamilla said, “That night (December 13th) is fine. It doesn’t have to be accepted by the Board to put it on the agenda. You just won’t have the actual OK from the Supervisors. It doesn’t have anything to do with the notice stuff. It’s not up to them to certify the election. Just accept the results.”

He was then asked about recounts.

“There are time frames for people to request recounts,” he stated. “If it gets close enough to where it becomes an issue we will sit down with the candidates and the City to figure something out. The reality is…recounts can be very expensive.”

“The goal is we want people to be comfortable with the results and they’re fair,” Canciamilla added. “This is an unusual circumstance.”

“Of all the races on the ballot, right now this is the only race too close for me to feel comfortable calling,” he reiterated.

For more election results, visit

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