Antioch mayor offers annual State of the City address virtually

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe offered his State of the City 2021 address on Wed., April 7. Video screenshot

Plans to introduce legislative package for youth in May for “aiding school system in improving overall academic achievement and safety”

By Allen Payton

Without any prior announcement, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe posted a video of his 2021 State of the City address on his mayor’s Facebook page on Wednesday, April 7. He then also emailed it on Thursday afternoon from his campaign email address. The Herald learned of it in a message to this reporter’s personal email account. Filmed inside the refurbished Council Chambers, no one was in attendance, including other council members nor members of the media.

Asked why there was no presentation by City Manager Ron Bernal or Chief of Police Tammany Brooks, and no slide shows as in past years, Thorpe did not respond.

Following are his prepared remarks:

“As our city and the world begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel from the largest pandemic in our lifetime, we cannot deny that the world has changed dramatically.

Equally, as a result of COVID-19, we cannot ignore the fact that over half a million Americans have lost their lives, including Antioch residents. And, we cannot also forget the countless more who have been impacted by the pain and suffering of having contracted COVID 19 and the pain and suffering of having to close a business or lose a job.

2020 was a difficult year, and 2021 is proving to be just as difficult but I come to you with a message of hope.

When I ran for mayor in the midst of the pandemic, I did so because I have never stopped believing in our city, and what we can accomplish when we work together.

Throughout this pandemic, our city has worked hard to provide you with some level of comfort.

From putting a hold on evictions to providing small business grants and establishing vaccination sites, our city has been focused on a better tomorrow.

As critical as our COVID response has been, as a new mayor, I also know the importance of keeping focus and ensuring that every aspect of our city government is working to best serve you.

A few months ago, in my first address to our community, I told you, there is nothing, absolutely nothing anyone can tell me that Antioch and its people cannot do. I meant every word it.

Within my first 90 days as mayor, along with the support of the City Council, we have passed the first phase of the largest police reform package in the City’s history.

For the first time, and frankly, decades overdue, our city’s police officers will be equipped with body-worn cameras. Every police vehicle will be outfitted with dash cameras.  This will ensure increased public transparency and accountability.

In that same spirit, I have a message for police officers from other agencies who have violated the public’s trust, don’t even bother to apply to the Antioch Police Department. We’re currently improving our hiring practices to weed individuals who have no business being police officers.  Antioch will not be a stop for officers with troubled pasts.

We all value the work of our police officers. We value it so much that the public has placed much responsibility on our police to solve all of our problems. That’s not right and it’s not fair to our men and women working to protect our community. From homeless to mental health, the public has started to redefine law enforcement as social work.

We’re working to undo this unfair burden placed on our police department so that they can better focus on preventing and fighting crime.

Thank my colleagues for moving forward with a proposal to build a citywide mental health crisis response team to ensure our city is responding to your needs in an appropriate manner.

Dispatching our police officers to chase unhoused residents from corner to corner is gross mismanagement of our city’s limited resources. If you are at home watching this message, you understand the privilege of having a place to call home.

For that reason, I want to ensure that our unhoused neighbors have the same experience.

That is the dignity of having a place to call home.

I’m committed to ensuring we stabilize the chronically homeless and move them towards permanent housing. There are many reasons why this is the right thing to do but no other reason comes close to the fact that we’re talking about human beings who only deserve to be treated as human beings.

There are some who will be upset with me and my colleagues. That’s fine. I will personally sleep well at night knowing we’re fighting to treat people with humanity.

While eliminating these responsibilities from our police department is critical for public safety, we can’t naively believe that the police department can prevent crime all on its own. They can’t. They need you, they need me, they need the entire community to be engaged in developing community violence solutions strategies particularly around gun violence.

We have seen our fair share and enough is enough. We have to get to the root of this problem.

That being said, another group that has gone chiefly ignored by the city is children under the age of 18, which happens to make up a third of Antioch’s population.

Youth development is a top priority for me and my council colleagues. I’m currently working on developing a legislative package for May related to youth that will be directly tied to aiding our school system in improving overall academic achievement and safety.

As a city, we must recognize that Antioch, like our children, is growing up.

We have gone from a small town just off of the Delta to now being the largest growing city in Contra Costa.

This growth is bringing new opportunities.

New ideas.

And very much like how the Delta meets the San Francisco Bay, the Antioch that was and the Antioch of now is occurring.

I recognize that, to some in our community, this change can be a bit overwhelming.

But allow me the opportunity to extend my hand to you and say: ‘I chose Antioch for the same reason you chose it. Because this is the city where I bought my home and am raising my daughter.’

If we all lead with the understanding that Antioch called us because it was our land of opportunity, and a place where we can raise our children, I am certain that many of the walls that exist will evaporate under the shared experience of wanting a place to call home.

There is more that unites us than divides us.

Regardless of who is in the White House, let us remember that we all have to live together.

The national debate does not determine how our parks are funded.

It does not determine how we keep our streets clean or support our small businesses.

What determines that, is what we do when we work together.

Imagine how much more we can accomplish when we come together as a community and focus on what unites us.

As we continue working towards a new normal, I recognize that the road ahead will still have hurdles that our city must overcome in order to truly make our city the best version of itself that it can be.

But I step on that path with the full faith and optimism that every single one of us wants what is best for our city.

In closing, thank you for providing me with the honor of being your mayor.”



the attachments to this post:

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe State of the City 2021 screenshot

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