On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council voted 4-0 to name former Antioch Mayor James Davis as its new city treasurer through an appointment process.
The move came after Donna Conley resigned as City Treasure effective July 31, 2018. Davis will fulfill her term through 2020.
During the hour-long interview process, the applicants were each given up to 5-minutes to make their case to the city council. Candidates included: Davis, Kym Kelley and Shelley Richardson. The candidates drew numbers at random to determine the order they would present.
While Kelley and Richardson highlighted their qualifications and skill set for the job, the Council was focused in on Davis who explained why he was qualified and had served three different seats on the council over a period of 14-years.
Prior to the vote, Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe suggested Davis drop out of the Antioch School Board race to focus on the city treasurer position due to perception they community may have.
During the interview, Davis highlighted that he believed he was qualified to fulfill the position.
“I’ve been up there, I’ve sat there for 14-years and in three different seats. Several times as Mayor Pro Tem and a couple times as councilmember and the for the last four years of that as Mayor,” said Davis. “So I know the work you do. I know what you do for the community. I know that it can be a thankless job at times. You often get blamed for everything and credit for nothing. I always said that I know that you’re doing it for the right reasons and I support what you’re doing.”
Davis continued by sharing that as a member of the city council, he spent many of his own personal time advocating for funding for the City of Antioch. He then shared why he was applying for the position of treasurer.
“I’m a 60-year resident in the city of Antioch, born and raised here. I’m semi-retired and I do not commute. I have the time to donate and dedicated myself to this position,” said Davis. “It is my desire to serve Antioch to the best of my ability and the office of city treasurer.”
He then touted his experience and training and understanding of the position and required functions while highlighting his 30-year banking background with the ability to understand financial issues and budgets. He also noted all his community activities and positions he had held.
Thorpe asked Davis what he thought about the role of City Treasure in regards to oversight.
“I know there is Measure C right now and hopefully its going to morph into Measure W. There are some concerns I have as a private citizen in this passage because I think without that, the cities in some serious circumstances down the road…I was mayor back in 2008, we have some very serious issues with budget…we didn’t want it the press then, but we were signature away from filing bankruptcy as a city and it was imperative that we secure additional financing. And I think Measure C was that,” explained Davis. “I’m hoping as the treasurer, as an independent elected official, even though in this case it would be the appointment for two years, but it has to be an independent person to watch or overlook or oversight whatever you would with expenditures of the new Measure W if it does morph into Measure W.”
He continued by explaining the position would give more oversight and an extra pair of eyes to watch but hoped the public would see they have an elected official, independent, watching so they could support Measure W.
“But I think people look down the road what it would mean to the city. If that didn’t pass, I think they would have some concerns,” said Davis. “I know that the city treasurer doesn’t have that responsibility now, but there’s no reason why they couldn’t add that with your, with your approval as of counsel.”
Thorpe replied saying he believed the City Treasure does have oversight whether the treasure exercises oversight as part of their discretion. He then asked Davis about what he thought the role of a treasure was and how he would work as part of a team.
“Report out, bring you up to date on the data on a month or quarterly reports and what’s happening, what’s transpired or any issues I’ve seen through auditing,” said Davis. “By doing so, that is reported out to the public. Everything is transparent either through this method or as a report that would be published for the public to review.”
He added that whoever is appointed, that it was incumbent of that person to become more active.
Thorpe closed out his questions by asking Davis what issue he would like to elevate as the city treasure.
“I think this person in this position or any elected position needs to be in the public side. The public needs to know from afar who you are. If you’re an elected official and not sit behind a door or a desk or come to a council meeting once every three months or whatever, or quarter, you need to be seen,” explained Davis. “I’m always an advocate for police services. I was a VIP for many years… Neighborhood Watch who was my baby. I love doing that… Work with the youth, talk with youth in the schools, meet with him on a regular basis that them know what a treasures job is. They can aspire to do that as well. I’m will participate in any state level training… So I would be involved. I wouldn’t be a silent treasure by any means.”
Thorpe then expressed his frustration with the City Clerk’s office because he was engineering certain things to impact the outcome of policies and didn’t appreciate it and hoped the city treasures role wouldn’t do the same thing when they were tasked with policy.
Councilwoman Monica Wilson asked Davis about his running for school board and applying for the treasure with it being two elected positions. She asked him how he would handle it.
“First of all, let me just say that I’m not elected yet to the school board. It’s my anticipation and hope that I will be. That will be up to the voters to decide,” said Davis. “it’s two separate entities. You have a City of Antioch and you have the school board to separate elected government bodies. I would be able to work. It’s a part time position as a treasurer.”
Davis highlighted because the treasure position is part time work, he has the time available to work with two separate bodies.
Thorpe stated that all the candidates brought a unique background that qualifies them to be city treasurer.
“I only have two concerns, the first one, if former Mayor Davis gets on the school board, serving in those two capacities, I do have a concern about that because I just don’t think it looks good,” said Thorpe. “The second concern I have is the same with Shelly which is she works for the city and I understand the legal and I get that, its just like we have to abide by the Brown Act, and we don’t always abide by the Brown Act we go beyond it looking out for perception and that standard needs to apply to these candidates.”
Thorpe added that beyond his concerns, they would all make excellent city treasures while highlighting how he understood now the tough choices Jim Davis had to make as mayor and it was easy for the peanut gallery to say things.
Councilman Tony Tiscareno stated he shared Thorpe’s concerns which could or could not impact the council at some point.
“My reason for looking at a candidate is someone who can come in and do the job, has experience, has knowledge of our city,” said Tiscareno. “I am going to go with an individual who can start on day one and get going on day 1 and has the experience to perform the job.”
Wilson thanked all three candidates for stepping up while sharing similar concerns as both Thorpe and Tiscareno regarding Shelly Richardson working for both the city and being appointed treasure. She echoed Tiscareno’s comments regarding appointing someone who is ready on day 1.
Mayor Sean Wright said when you look at this position, they had an opportunity to appoint someone with experience.
“We have an opportunity to have a an appointee who can hit the ground running. Who has looked at these finances during their darkest times of our city who has spent countless hours at this dais looking at these budgets and be an advocate for our community,” said Wright.
Tiscareno motioned the appointed of Jim Davis as City Treasure and seconded by Wilson.
Prior to the vote, Thorpe suggested to Davis that he “re-think the school board thing” because he didn’t think he looked good in how people perceive things and that it appeared they were recycling the same political people over and over again.
It was approved in a 4-0 vote.