After serving Mayor Wade Harper with recall papers last Tuesday during the Antioch City Council Meeting, Antioch resident Rich Buongiorno is all business as he moves forward with his recall attempt.
Buongiorno, a 66-year Antioch resident, told the Mayor that he was given the opportunity to resign and did not so he was being recalled. After his statements, nine people spoke in support of Mayor Harper and his accomplishments as Mayor.
Buongiorno called the comments following his appeared to be a dog and pony show orchestrated by the Mayor that distracted from the issue at hand which the mayor was not doing his job or providing solutions to the crime taking place in Antioch or on Deer Valley Plaza.
He admits he could have had multiple people speak that supported the recall but it was unneeded at this point in time.
“The only thing that needed to be done that night was to serve him with the petition,” said Buongiorno. “Did I say more? Yes, but not much.”
For now, Buongiorno is focused on strategy of collecting enough signatures to get a recall onto the ballot by next year. He says organization and collecting manpower to assist in signature collections are his focus.
That process officially started Tuesday when the Mayor was served. On Thursday Oct. 16, the Recall Petition paperwork was filed with the Antioch City Clerk and the signatures were later verified by the Contra Costa County Elections Office. With the approval of the petition approved, the process can move forward.
“It’s been crazy since Tuesday night. I’ve been getting a lot of attention, but that was step one,” declared Buongiorno. “Now we are proceeding to step two and three—step one, Mayor Harper has been served. Step two is getting all the forms ready and prepared while step three is collecting signatures.”
For a recall vote to move forward, supporters must now gather signatures from 20% of registered voters in Antioch—approximately 8,772 voters over the next 180-days to send the recall to voters on the ballot.
According to Buongiorno, as of this week, he has 200 people who are willing to help collect signatures. He said there would be more as the effort gets wheels, but volunteers must be Antioch residents and registered to vote. He notes that each volunteer would only need to collect 45-valid signatures.
The decision to recall the mayor came after Buongiorno wrote an opinion piece and emailed it to the mayor and city council. The public provided him with 1,500 responses. The Mayor and Council did not even respond. (Note – we published the letter on Sept. 18)
“There was no response, there was nothing,” said Buongiorno.“I am only one person, but it has everything to do with the 1,500 people who feel the same. In that letter it tells you what he is not doing right. What did it is (for the recall to begin) was the non-response.”
He also accuses the mayor of being first in line for photo opportunities and speaking at “positive” events. He is very visible explained Buongiorno at those events. However, he is invisible when it comes to negative happenings around Antioch such as crime and refuses to speak to the media.
“When its photo opportunities, he is visible. When it comes to bad, he is not there,” explained Buongiorno. “I may not like Oakland Mayor Jean Quan or San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, but who do you see in the news supporting and communicating with the citizens? They are visible. By his own admission, Wade Harper does a lot of work in the background. It hasn’t worked. Whatever he does in the background is not working so he needs to do something else.”
According to Buongiorno, he has received a ton of emails and mail about Wade Harper. He said a lot of it is slanderous which he says he won’t use because he wants to stick to the issue at hand which is the job he is not doing as Mayor.
In fact, Buongiorno admits he voted for Mayor Harper in the last election because of what he campaigned on. Since election, he has not kept his campaign promises.
“I voted for Harper because I believed what he said which was he was a cop. To me in my mind, that meant he should have some knowledge of the crime and violence going on in the city,” explained Boungiorno. “I though with his background he could reach some of the folks committing crimes and violence. I thought he could pull them in and tell them this is not the way to go and change the atmosphere in Antioch. That did not happen. He was on the city council and did nothing.”
He also noted that Mayor Harper said his term as Mayor would become a full-time job that he had to quit his job. Now the Mayor is teaching classes at Antioch High School which is taking away from his duties as mayor.
While Buongiorno may be taking the lead in the recall, he says many people are ready to go out and get signatures which will likely begin in November—they are just waiting for the final okay to move forward.
Buongiorno was tight lipped about who was working with him in coordinating the efforts because its early in the process, but says a few candidates have emerged to replace Harper if he is actually recalled. After a vote next November, the potential candidates can announce their intention to run.
For the mayor to be recalled, in a recall election, it would take 50%+1 in support of the recall for Harper to be removed from office.
People have expressed interest to more than willing to assist in the process to recall the mayor both financially and with blood sweat and tears says Buongiorno.
“This is David vs. Goliath. I am just one guy who loves my city and wants to take it back from the riff-raff and make it a place where people want to come, open businesses, and feel safe walking down the street,” said Buongiorno.
Below are comments from Buongiorno to Mayor Harper during the October 14 City Council meeting:
I didn’t get everything said in 3-minutes last time, basically 3-weeks ago. So consequently I am here again. I have a bit of an issue, a problem, it’s that if we ran the council and you ran in that council a department in private industry, you would be fired by now.
You sir have not done anything for your position and for this city. Not based on what your commitment to us was. Unfortunately this is an at will state, you are not at an at will position. Even if you are a business and had invested in you, our return on investment is non-existent, we would get rid of you.
So you aren’t part of an at will, you are not part of an investment, you are there for one reason and one reason only and that is because we the voters put you there. Sir, based on everything that you have done for the past two years and the two years prior to that and the two years prior to that associated with the City of Antioch has been questioned.
Mr. Turnage gave you the opportunity to resign and I believe your response was something similar to that is not going to happen. Fine, I certainly understand that, but we the voters. We have the last word and remember that.
Mr. Mayor you are being recalled. (Paperwork handed to the Mayor). I know that is not pleasant and I certainly understand that and I know right now you are probably ready to lash out. I know you are more of a man than that. I think you really should do what is good for the city of Antioch. And that is to step down.