Video clears up confusion over which redistricting map Antioch council majority adopted on 3-2 vote

Antioch City Council Redistricting Draft Map A adopted on a 3-2 vote during March 8, 2022, meeting divides neighborhoods which some residents claim violates a requirement in the California FAIR MAPS Act.

Torres-Walker clearly stated “Draft Map A” in her motion

Members of public claim it’s gerrymandered and out of compliance with FAIR MAPS Act, lawsuit expected

By Allen D. Payton

During a special meeting/study session Tuesday night held at 5:30 p.m., the Antioch City Council on a 3-2 vote adopted redistricting Draft Map A. However, confusion arose on Wednesday over which map was actually adopted, since the council had the options of Draft Map A, drawn by the consultants of Q2 and which four council members previously rejected, and Draft Map A – Modified, which was modified during the Feb. 22 council meeting by Mayor Lamar Thorpe and District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, and was part of the council’s agenda packet. In addition, Map 521 which was drawn by a member of the public, was also discussed by council members and public speakers during the meeting.

After input from the public and discussion by the council members, Thorpe asked if there was a motion. Torres-Walker said, “I’d like to make a motion that the council adopt Map A, Draft Map A” and District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson seconded it. Then without further discussion Thorpe cast the deciding vote, while both Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock voted no.

But due to the confusion by council members and City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, an effort was made to schedule a special meeting for Friday, March 11 at 4:30 p.m. for a revote by the council.

Questions for Council, City Attorney

Due to the confusion by members of the public, questions were emailed Wednesday morning to Torres-Walker and Wilson, copying City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, Thorpe, Barbanica and Ogorchock asking, “as the maker and seconder of the motion to adopt Map A, was your intent to adopt Draft Map A or Draft Map A – Modified?”

Smith was asked, “was that the final vote or was it just to move the final map forward for a final vote during the regular council session at the next meeting which will begin at 7 PM?”

Torres-Walker, Wilson and Thorpe were then asked, “why go through the entire process of having an online mapping tool for the public to use to submit maps if you were just going to reject them all and choose a map drawn by the consultants based on your input, and who admitted they don’t know Antioch like you and the residents do, and in spite of the fact the vast majority of public speakers were in favor of either Maps 91 or 521? Was that all a sham and just for show to make people feel like they were having a voice?”

Barbanica Responds, Opposes Both Map A’s

“It was crystal clear that the motion was made for Map A and was seconded by another council member and adopted on a 3-2 vote,” he responded. “I was against Map A. I’m still against Map A.”

“I received a call from the city attorney, today who told me there was potential confusion about which map was approved and if I had time to attend a special meeting on Friday,” Barbanica continued. “I told him ‘no, I have a previous engagement’ and that “Map A is what was adopted’.”

When asked which Map A he believes was adopted Barbanica responded, “Draft Map A, not modified.”

“I don’t support Draft Map A or Modified Map A because they are bad for the community as they divide neighborhoods and communities of interest,” he continued. “I support Map 91 as I have since it was first presented. I was willing to support Map 521 but that was voted down on a 2-3 vote. I supported Map 91 but that was voted down on a 2-3 vote.”

Herald Meeting Video Confirms Torres-Walker said “Draft Map A” in Her Motion

After reviewing the cell phone video filmed by this reporter in attendance at the meeting, Torres-Walker can be clearly heard saying “Draft Map A” in her motion, before Wilson seconded it and the vote on the motion passed 3-2.

In addition, the council meeting video posted on the city’s website Wednesday afternoon also shows what Torres-Walker said in her motion, for “Draft Map A”, beginning at the 22:50 mark.

No response was received by Smith regarding the need for another vote or if last night’s vote was the final on the council’s new redistricting map.

Lawsuit by Residents Expected

Members of the public spoke and said Draft Map A – Modified was not in compliance with the FAIR MAPS Act which was adopted and went into effect January 2020, after the current Antioch City Council districts were approved in 2018. Draft Map A was drawn based on that map, with one minor adjustment between Districts 3 and 4 which divides a neighborhood which the act says must be avoided if possible. The other map considered by the council during the meeting was Map 521, drawn by a member of the public, and doesn’t divide any neighborhoods.

As a result, discussions have begun of a possible lawsuit by residents, as occurred in Martinez, which forced that city council to form an independent redistricting commission and the adoption of the final map by the commission without any input from the council members.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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