Watchdog Column – Antioch city election results

By Barbara Zivica

After election returns were in, I asked my dog (see his official photo which heads my column) what his take was on the election results. His answer – RUFF! RUFF!

Going in Gary Agopian seemed to be the expected winner of the Mayor’s chair but Wade Harper got the nod instead. (Harper 40.87% of the vote vs. Agopian’s 32.91%) Agopian, however, has a safe council seat and won’t be up for re-election until November 2014. Don Freitas only got 20.38% of the vote and Michael Leon 5.52%.

In the council race, I was surprised that Mary Rocha (24.41% of the vote) who has spent 16 years on the council and four as mayor, and Monica Wilson (23.17% of the vote), who had little name recognition, edged out Jim Davis (22.43% of the vote) who ran for council instead of re-election for Mayor. Walter Ruehlig pulled 17.80% of the vote and Noel Pinto 11.88%. I think what enabled the women to win was strong backing and turnout from the Democratic party and union trade group members.

The numbers I quote don’t include all the vote by mail ballots that were turned in at the polls or the provisional ballots. The Elections Department has 28 days to certify but they might have it done by Thanksgiving. That could change the outcomes of some elections, especially Jim Davis or Monica Wilson since there’s less than 300 votes separating them.

What concerns me now is how the new council will decide to fill the vacant council seat when Harper assumes the position of Mayor.

What council should do, did in the past but didn’t do back in 2008, is appoint the candidate who came in third. That candidate was Arne Simonsen. Council actually sent out a casting call and after many rounds of interviews and pointed questioning, ended up choosing Martha Parsons, a Democratic political consultant, who hadn’t even run for council.

Should it turn out that Monica Wilson’s lead holds and Jim Davis comes in third, let’s hope council does the right thing this time and seats him in the position left open after Wade Harper is sworn in as Mayor.

Last but not least, congrats to Arne Simonson who handily won election to the City Clerk Position.

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