Antioch City Council appoints economic development director as next acting city manager

Will discuss 18 other agenda items during special meeting next Tuesday

“There are some big shoes to fill.” – Reed said of the departing Forrest Ebbs

Kwame Reed. Source: City of Antioch

By Allen D. Payton

During Friday morning’s special Antioch City Council closed session meeting on a 4-0 vote Economic Development Director Kwame Reed was appointed acting city manager to replace Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs. He has held the position since March but announced last week he’s taking a new position as a Deputy City Manager with Modesto.

During the open session portion of the meeting, Assistant City Attorney Rachel Hundley reported out of closed session about the vote for Reed’s appointment. He fills the position held by City Manager Con Johnson who was placed on paid administrative leave March 17. Following the council’s closed session during their June 13th meeting, City Attorney Thomas L. Smith merely reported out regarding the item entitled entitled “Public Employee Performance Evaluation and Potential Action – City Manager”, that they had given him direction. That is expected to be an offer to Johnson to resign or face termination.

At Friday morning’s meeting during open session, Mayor Lamar Thorpe then requested a motion to adjourn the 18 items to a special meeting at 6:00 p.m. next Tuesday, June 27 before the regular meeting that begins at 7:00 p.m. The motion passed 3-0 with Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock absent. Torres-Walker attended the closed session but as previously reported could not attend the open session due to previous commitments and Ogorchock is out of town at a League of Cities conference.

Reed has been in his current position with the City of Antioch since July 2, 2018 after working for both the City of Brentwood for almost 14 years as an Economic Development Senior Analyst and two years as an Associate Planner for the City of Oakley. Prior to that position, he worked for two years as a planner for the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission which operates the ACE Train. Reed has a bachelor’s degree in City/Urban, Community and Regional Planning from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

He has been married for 26 years and is the father of two boys and a daughter.

When reached for comment Reed said, “I’m very excited for the opportunity. I’ve been around for a while. I’ve seen how things work. It’s a wonderful opportunity. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be tough. There are some issues that will be handled. I look forward to working with the entire council and getting community support, again, and the entire staff. I have good relationships with everyone and look forward to strengthening those and supporting them, as well.”

“Forrest has done a great job. I’m really going to miss him,” he shared about outgoing. “There are some big shoes to fill. We all wish him well. But when he announced he’s moving on, it was ‘wow’. We’re going to lose a good bit of knowledge when he departs.”

Immediately prior to the open session, District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica and Thorpe had a brief conversation in the back room behind the dais, with Hundley, which people in attendance at the meeting saw.

Asked about it Barbanica said, “Lamar was going to discuss an item about rent control but what I was telling him was there were only three of us there and that I had a conflict of interest, as I couldn’t vote on it, before as it could have a direct effect on my business.” The councilman is a real estate broker and property manager in Antioch.

“Any item that has come up regarding tenants, rent, etc. I’ve brought up with the city attorney about any potential conflict of interest,” he explained. “Because this meeting was going to be postponed, I didn’t have time to consult the city attorney and I couldn’t do that 30 seconds before the meeting. I told them I was going to recuse myself and Rachel agreed, and we’ll vet this out further before Tuesday night.”

The special Friday morning meeting adjourned at 10:35 a.m.  

In addition to an acting city manager, as reported by Thorpe at last week’s council meeting, the City currently has 87 vacancies, including the assistant city manager, 17 unfilled positions in the police department plus 35 officers on paid administrative leave pending the two investigations, an acting public works director, and soon an acting community development director on July 15 following Ebbs’ departure.

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