CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (CBS SF) – Shifting attitudes on local police reform, development, homelessness and other issues combined to end the public service of a number of officials in Antioch, Pittsburg, Brentwood and Oakley in the wake of the November election.
The vote totals in Antioch led to the election of City Council member Lamar Thorpe as mayor, the second African-American mayor in the city’s history. He defeated incumbent Mayor Sean Wright by 4,569 votes. Two other long-term officials also lost their jobs.
Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts, who had previously served on the local school district, lost by 291 votes to challenger Tamisha Walker. And Ellie Householder beat City Clerk Arne Simonsen by a slim 30 votes. Simonsen had served in the position since 2012.
Antioch City Council members Lori Ogorchock and Monica Wilson won their re-election races. Ogorchock won with 34 percent of the vote against three challengers. Wilson came in with a 55 percent winning rate against two other candidates. Mike Barbanica, a former police lieutenant, won the race for District 2 with 53 percent against Tony Tiscarino.
Thorpe said Wednesday he was “enjoying the good feeling of winning a mandate” from the voters. He aims to focus his term on “neighborhood safety, police reform, homelessness and blight.” He bemoaned the loss of Motts, whom he had endorsed. “She may have succumbed to the wave of racial injustice and police reform,” he said. Thorpe serves as the executive director of the Los Medanos Community Health District.
In Oakley, current Mayor Kevin Romick and former mayor Claire Alaura both lost their seats to challengers. Newcomers Aaron Meadows, Anissa Williams and George Fuller won the open three seats. Alaura came in fourth, losing by 452 votes. Romick came in sixth. Oakley council members rotate service as mayor.
Romick said Wednesday, “It’s been an honor serving Oakley first as a planning commissioner for four years and as a Council Member/Mayor for the last 16 years.” He added, “I’ll remain active with the Friends of Oakley-A Community Foundation, but beyond that nothing has been planned.”
In Brentwood, Vice Mayor Joel Bryant won the race to replace outgoing Mayor Bob Taylor, who had served the city in multiple roles for decades. Taylor declined to run for re-election. “It’s time for new blood,” he said of his retirement.
Six ran for the mayor’s opening. Bryant won with 29 percent. Current council member Karen Rarey came in second, 552 votes behind Bryant. Claudette Stanton lost her bid for city council re-election to Jovita Mendoza. Susannah Meyer won the third open council seat.
In Pittsburg, City Council member Juan Banales won 36 percent of the votes while Mayor Jelani Killings came in second with 32 percent. Voters rejected the comeback try of former mayor Frank Aiello. Like Oakley, Pittsburg also rotates its mayoral seat. Top issues in Pittsburg included police reform, the future of the city’s waterfront and homeless shelters.
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