Antioch City Clerk issues statement supporting two who accused Thorpe of sexual harassment

Ellie Householder official city photo. Screenshot of Lamar Thorpe and Householder TikTok video in February 2022.

To the women; I am sorry. I see you, I hear you, and I believe you.” – Ellie Householder in 9/17/22 Facebook post

Also accuses Thorpe of retaliation over a political campaign dispute involving city’s public information officer including unsuccessful efforts to place oversight of her office under interim city manager

No longer “have each other’s back”

Post on Householder’s personal Facebook page Saturday morning, Sept. 17, 2022.

By Allen D. Payton

In a post on her personal Facebook page on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, Antioch City Clerk and Antioch School Board Trustee Ellie Householder issued a statement in support of the two women who accused Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe of sexual harassment writing, “To the women; I am sorry. I see you, I hear you, and I believe you”. The county board of supervisors, acting as the successor agency to the defunct-Los Medanos Community Healthcare District where Thorpe was executive director and the two women worked, voted unanimously on Tuesday to settle the matter for $350,000. (See related article)

In her “Open Letter to the Residents of Antioch” Householder wrote about the mayor, “A person I have loyally stood by for years has used his power and influence over women to take advantage of them, and for this, I am truly sorry.”

“Earlier this year I began breaking ties with Lamar because of his increasingly erratic and hurtful behavior,” the letter continues.

“I found it most appropriate to privately unalign myself with him,” Householder wrote.

She also accused Thorpe of not paying a videographer that was used by the city’s public information officer, Rolando Bonilla, who ran unsuccessfully for the San Jose City Council.

In a comment beneath the Facebook post, Bonilla wrote: “Huh ? In relation to me, honestly, what are you talking about? Wish you would’ve called me, but you didn’t. I still see you as a bright light in the realm of public service, just wish our professional relationship meant the same to you as it did to me. Clearly, that wasn’t the case. I wish you the best, Ellie.”

Following is Householder’s complete letter: Householder Open Letter to the Residents of Antioch 091722

“September 17, 2022

Open Letter to the Residents of Antioch —

It is with a heavy heart I share this letter with you all. On Wednesday, September 14th, I learned of the sexual harrassment [sic] settlement granted to two former co-workers of Lamar Thorpe, Mayor of the City of Antioch.

I recognize that my well-known connection with Lamar Thorpe can be interpreted as a tacit endorsement of his behaviors. I never could’ve imagined someone I highly respect as a collegue [sic] would do such a thing; but it did happen. A person I have loyally stood by for years has used his power and influence over women to take advantage of them, and for this, I am truly sorry.

To the women; I am sorry. I see you, I hear you, and I believe you.

Earlier this year I began breaking ties with Lamar because of his increasingly erratic and hurtful behavior. Our professional relationship reached a breaking point when I learned that Lamar used unauthorized footage from a local videographer without paying. All this while working as the campaign manager for Rolando Bonilla, who also serves as the City’s Public Information Officer. Rather than take accountability and pay the $15k for his mistake, Lamar berated me and gave me several ultimatums urging me to drop this “issue.” Lamar and I haven’t talked since. A few weeks later he began efforts to undermine the City Clerk’s Office. Without my knowledge, Lamar attempted to transfer control of my City Clerk duties to the City Manager, Con Johnson. This was clearly in retaliation to my genuine concerns over his treatment of others.

At great emotional dispense, I tried to help Lamar, but he refused to take accountability for the pain he was causing, and has continued to cause, to people. At that point I found it most appropriate to privately unalign myself with him without sharing the details of our professional relationship (or lack thereof) with anyone else. I think though that now, more than ever, it’s important that the citizens who elected us to our positions are made aware of the current circumstances.

I am here to serve this City and everyone in it, and I take that responsibility seriously. Many people who have been harmed by Lamar have been scared into silence for fear of being lumped into a group of hateful bigots who use race and other tactics to divide our community. I’d like to offer a hand of reassurance to those I know are feeling this way – you can feel safe coming forward with me. I believe you. I will not allow you and your experience to be minimized or written off as an attempt to tarnish his reputation for nefarious reasons when true harm has been done. If there is a way I can be helpful, I am here to do that.

Going forward, I hope that the people like me – closely affiliated with and surrounding our Mayor – will follow my lead in coming forward with their refusal to continue condoning or defending this behavior. I hope we all can reassure those remaining in the shadows that we do not support or stand behind abuse of women no matter what office the perpetrator holds. Please join me in delivering that message to our Antioch community.

Sincerely signed,

Ellie Householder”


Questions for Thorpe Go Unanswered

Questions were sent via email to Thorpe early Thursday afternoon asking, “Were you Rolando Bonilla’s campaign manager for his San Jose City Council race? Is what she wrote about the videographer correct? If so, has that person been paid, yet? Did she confront you about that?

Is what she wrote about you retaliating against her and the City Clerk’s office correct?

If not, why has there been an effort to place the office of a separately elected official under control of the city manager, who answers to the city council?

If you were Rolando’s campaign manager, do think it’s appropriate for you to be doing side work for him as someone for whose contract with the city for PIO services you have repeatedly voted in favor? Doesn’t that pose a rather incestuous relationship, with seriously potential conflicts of interest and smack of cronyism? Do you have any other comment?”

Thorpe did not respond to multiple efforts to reach him for a response to the questions and for any additional comment.

Bonilla Says Thorpe Not His Campaign Manager, Only Volunteered

Questions were also sent via email to Bonilla early Thursday afternoon asking, “Was Lamar your campaign manager for your run for San Jose City Council? If so, do think it’s appropriate for you to have hired someone for whom you work on a contract basis and who votes on your contract with the city for PIO services? Doesn’t that pose a rather incestuous relationship, with seriously potential conflicts of interest and smack of cronyism?

Is what she wrote about the videographer correct? If so, has that person been paid, yet?

Do you have any other comments you’d like to add?”

Bonilla responded in writing, “1. Lamar was not my campaign manager. 2. Videographer was paid in full.”

He was then asked, “but did Lamar work on your campaign at all in either a paid or non-paid capacity?”

Bonilla responded, “He volunteered from time-to-time. Additionally, even Ellie kindly contributed to my campaign. Very appreciative of their support.”

Finally, he was asked, “When was your campaign invoiced by the videographer and when was payment made? Were you aware of any dispute about it among Ellie and Lamar between the​ time the services were provided and payment was made?”

Bonilla responded, “1. Will track down. On road. 2. No, this is all news to me. Contrary to what you may think, I don’t go around involving myself in the political machinations that go on in Antioch.”

Break Occurs After Supporting Each Other for Years

The break between the city clerk and mayor occurs after a long, mutually supportive political alliance. Thorpe helped Householder get elected to both her positions, the school board in 2018 and city clerk in 2020 and she in turn supported him in his campaign for mayor. They’ve also appeared together during parades in the city.

Householder faced recall from her position as city clerk, starting last year, in part due to accusations that she was showing Thorpe favoritism in how she handled the recall effort against him, resulting in delays of the supporters getting started. They campaigned together including posting strange videos on Tik Tok which were shot inside the City Council Chambers in February, and in which they claimed to “have each other’s back”. (See related article)

The recall to remove Householder from school board was later dropped, as the focus turned to recalling Thorpe, which failed due to theft of funds and the signatures according to the organizers. The recall to remove her as city clerk failed to gather enough signatures. (See related articles here and here)

Householder moved into school board Trustee Area 1, which is represented by Antonio Hernandez, and thus is unable to run for re-election as only Areas 2 and 5 are up for election in November. Her term as city clerk runs until December 2024.

Householder Officers More Details

Householder was asked when the issue with the $15,000 videography payment arose, if the videographer is a friend of hers and the dispute about oversight of the city clerk’s office.

The vote to place the city clerk’s office under control of the city attorney’s office instead of the city manager’s office passed last Tuesday night, Sept. 13 on a 4-1 vote with Thorpe voting against.

“Which was my wishes,” Householder stated. “I had a meeting with Lamar and told him he shouldn’t be involved in the process of who would have oversight, after Nickie Mastay (former Administrative Services Director) retired.” Mastay helped with day-to-day staff issues in the city clerk’s office.

“Lamar tried very hard to get it to be Con behind my back,” Householder continued. “Thomas told me about it, which is the only reason I knew. We work closely with Thomas, every day. It made administrative sense” to give his office the oversight role.

“But I was very clear with Lamar and Con that it made me very uncomfortable that Lamar was involved at all,” the city clerk continued. “The only say he had was placing it on the council agenda. That’s what I told him.”

“This started after Nickie left,” Householder stated. That occurred last month when she took a new position with the City of Richmond. “But we knew she was taking another position. She gave plenty of notice. So, conversations were being had without my knowledge.”

“Our office has been in limbo because we haven’t had a director to be the point person for the full-time staff members in the office,” she stated. “I felt like it was being dragged out intentionally.”

Asked about Bonilla denying Thorpe was his campaign manager Householder said, “That’s what I understood him to be as and I did not know he was working on his campaign, he was working on it for awhile before I knew and Lamar called himself his campaign manager.”

Asked how she got involved with the pay for the videographer Householder shared, “he shot my videos. He’s a local guy. Lamar recommended him to me. I’ve worked with him since 2018. He shot videos for the Los Medanos Healthcare District for Lamar.”

Asked when that issue arose she said, “It was about February, it was earlier this year. It was about six months ago. He was hired by Rolando’s campaign for $5,000. He was paid $2,500. Lamar wasn’t happy with the work, took that video and had another person edit it.”

“The videographer told Lamar that it’s customary that if you use footage, it’s three times the amount. So, he was owed $15,000 plus the $2,500 balance,” Householder continued. “He saw his footage in a commercial on TV but it wasn’t his edit.”

Asked if she has spoken to the videographer since then Householder said, “Yes, I did and no he has not been paid. I told Lamar ‘you need to pay this guy’ and we haven’t talked since.”

About Thorpe she said, “I am somebody he’s called his best friend, publicly.”

“I hope this does good. I hope this doesn’t further divide our community. I want it to bring us together,” Householder added.

Please check back later for any additions to this report.


the attachments to this post:

Ellie Householder ltr 091722

Ellie Householder FB post 091722

Householder Open Letter to the Residents of Antioch 091722

Ellie Householder & Lamar-Ellie-TikTok-screenshot

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