Voters to Decide in June Whether to Elect Mayor

By James Ott

This November Antioch voters may not have to bother with electing a new mayor. On Tuesday City Council voted 4 to 0 (Brian Kalinowski absent) to place a measure on the June 5 ballot that would replace the elected mayor’s position with a annual rotating mayoral seat among the council members.

Of the 482 incorporated California cities, only 149 still have a directly elected mayor. 14 cities in Contra Costa County have a rotating mayoral seat, with only Antioch, Brentwood, Richmond, Martinez, and San Ramon still directly electing their mayor. Antioch has had a directly elected mayor since 1972, but the position was rotated prior to that.

“Being the current mayor, you might think I would be against this, but I support it because it gives five different individuals the chance to share their ideas,” said Mayor Jim Davis, whose four-year-term ends this year.

The idea to switch to a rotating mayor was brought before the council at the previous council meeting by former council member Martha Parsons, who said that the change would benefit Antioch by “giving us a different vision” more often than every four years.

As far as power is concerned, the mayor has the same voting rights with other council members, is a member of the Delta Diablo Sanitation District board and represents Antioch at the annual county Mayor’s Conference. The mayor also helps the city manager prepare each council meeting agenda.

The mayor and all council members get a $450 monthly salary, but the mayor alone gets a $100 monthly travel stipend and $50 per month for communication expenses.

If a majority of Antioch voters pass the ballot measure in June, all candidates for Mayor will have to run for a council seat instead.

The council also voted to place another measure on the June ballot that would let the voters decide if the city clerk and city treasurer should become appointed by the council instead of elected. One ballot measure would have cost the city $105,000, so the council members said they felt it was a good cost savings to put both on the June ballot together as the two measures will cost an additional $10,000.

Also at the meeting:

* The city voted 4-0 to hire three full-time and up to five per diem officers to the city’s police force. According to Police Chief Allan Cantando, the per diem officers will be retired policemen who will be half the cost of community service officers for the positions because they will not receive benefits.

Cantando was quick to point out that the per diem hires will also only work about half the hours of community service officers, but he thinks they will be a big help to the police force until more money is secured for more permanent hires.

* The council voted to seek an alternate funding source for the $90,000 per year cost of watering the Lone Tree Golf Course. The course is seeing lean times due to the downturn in the economy and the building of newer golf courses in the area.

* The city reached an agreement with current computer gaming and internet access stores in town by voting to allow them to continue operations while the city implements an Urgency Zoning Ordinance to decide how to zone and manage such businesses in the future.

T’s Internet Cafe, who’s owner Tricia Simmons was present at the meeting, had previously caught the city’s attention when complaints of illegal activity were claimed against it. City staff claimed that police service calls to the area around T’s went from 137 calls from February to August 2008 to 240 calls in that same time in 2009.

The city will initiate a 45-day study to determine how to zone and regulate such businesses in the future. While the study is ongoing, no similar business will be allowed to open in Antioch.

The computer gaming and internet access stores asked for no changes to the current staff suggestions on how to move forward, except that they wish to remain open until 2 a.m. Simmons and a representative for another internet gaming store both said that they should be allowed to stay open till 2 a.m., just like other bars and restaurants in the city. The council approved the staff recommendations minus the 2 a.m. closing time.

One Comment to “Voters to Decide in June Whether to Elect Mayor”

  1. karl says:

    don’t we have real issues, like crime, in antioch the council should take care off? where is the urgency? where does the money comes from for the ballot measure? we should spend that money on hiring code enforcement.

    we rather should have term limits for council members, so they get kicked out after 2 terms.

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