Mayor Issues Statement Regarding Dismissal of Antioch’s City Manager

Dr. Sean Wright administered the Oath of Office by Oakley Mayor Kevin Romick

On Wednesday, Antioch Mayor Sean Wright issued the following statement via Press Release after the Council voted 3-2 to dismiss City Manager Steve Duran.

Duran, who announced he would retire in August, will now be paid one year severance pay at $230,000 plus benefits.  Duran was hired in December of 2013 from the City of Hercules to assist the City in resolving its budget issues.

Wright says the following statement was his thoughts as mayor and not the entire council:

Elections bring about change that inspires new direction, fresh philosophies and reenergized hope. Here in Antioch, the recent city council election stirred a renewed sense of civic passion among a community that wants to see things improve.  Volunteers are stepping up in greater numbers to serve on city commissions. Through phone calls, emails and meetings, more and more citizens are voicing their desire to help. 

Our city has a phenomenal window of opportunity to take advantage of a growing economy, the expansion of eBart, and the completion of Highway 4. With this groundswell of community support behind us, I have never been more excited about Antioch’s future.

However, change often causes tensions to arise. Our electorate voted for change, and newly elected leaders such as myself pushed for change.  Quite simply, I feel the city manager failed to support us in our efforts. In fact, he was recently quoted in a newspaper article as saying that “They need to stay in their lane,” “they” referring to members of the city council. Such a statement, I believe, reflects our former city manager’s belief that the city council needs to follow his lead, when in fact, the manager serves at the pleasure of the city council.

It is not the role of a city manager to control city council. That is not the way the system is supposed to work. Citizens elect councilmembers to represent their interests in city hall, and councilmembers set the policies for the city. As an unelected “at will” employee, the city manager’s only duty is to implement those policies. When the manager begins establishing his own policies, he is the one who has strayed from his “lane.”

The bottom line here is that the city council and our former manager disagreed with the role a city manager should play. Even if the manager had acted in good faith in doing what he felt was required of his position, the law allows the elected city council to dismiss their appointed city manager. That’s what it means to serve at the pleasure of the city council and to be an “at will” employee.

I wish Mr. Duran all the luck in the world, and harbor no ill feelings toward him at all.
While the city council’s decision moves the city forward in a positive direction, unfortunately, there will be a short-term cost. However, I firmly believe that the long-term gains are worth it.

Our citizens did not vote for the status quo—they demanded change. Right now, we are creating a cohesive team capable of working together to take advantage of the amazing opportunities in front of us. As a council, it’s our duty to move forward quickly so that Antioch can finally begin achieving its potential.



  1. Mr. Mayor,
    There are two types of government leadership in cities. There are ” Strong City Manager ” types and ” Strong Mayor ” types. To say one or the other is wrong shows your ignorance in government. It appears you have both fighting for the end result. Both forms of leadership are fine. Just not at the same time. That’s why you just wasted a quarter million dollars of the citizens money.

  2. The Mayor just proved he is power hungry and wants to be controlling at a time when things in Antioch were better than they have been over the past four years. Not sure who would even want the job under this dysfunctional council. Antioch just set itself back and cost itself a ton of money for no reason other than ego.

  3. You actually think things are better in Antioch than they ever have been? Let me take you around Antioch, all of Antioch and then let’s see what you say. Maybe your little corner of Antioch is fine but Antioch is not fine. Businesses are fleeing Antioch and ones that do open don’t last 6 months. Many people met in lots of meetings to discuss this move and took it to others. Money well spent.

  4. What a foolish action by the Antioch City Council and the new unskilled mayor. Mr Mayor, your comments are far from inspiring. You were meddling in the operations of this city which is violation of your job description. Instead of accepting fault, you double down with a mind numbing explanation to cover your ass. I am not buying it.

    Mr. Mayor, you failed. You did something illegal. You should be the one to leave office.

    And now, this is going to cost more precious tax money. Which could have been avoided by allowing Mr. Duran to retire as he planned to do only a few months from now.

    I hope he sues our ass and wins big. I will remember your action next election time, that is if you haven’t been recalled. It’s obvious, you have no experience in governing.

    The nature of our city government is a part time City Council to set policy, not meddle in the day to day operations. The full time professional manager is there to execute legally approved policy. Running a complex city such as Antioch is more than a full time job. Mr. Duran’s effort has been very effective by creating a well planned effort to improve Antioch. He will be missed.

    As an analogy, if you get on a commercial plane, who do you want to fly the plane to your destination? A professional pilot with years of experience or a chiropractor from the passenger list?

    It’s really that simple.

  5. Great move and action by the Mayor. Finally some backbone to get some action done!

    There was nothing illegal about Durans dismissal as explained in this article. He is an at will employee on contract.

    Cut out the inefficiencies and let’s move forward.

  6. The City Manager was scheduled to retire later this year. So, instead the City Council fired him and, therfore, owes him $230,000 additional dollars that will be paid by the taxpayers, not the Council. Who are the fools here?

    The Council’s job is to set policy, the City Manager’s job is to manage the employees to get the policies done. Both have “lanes” and both should honor those “lanes”.

    • You completely missed the point.

      Furthermore, nothing was scheduled. Anyone can say they are going to retire but not follow through. I think you need to familiarize yourself with labor laws and reading comprehension.

  7. The city manager was not “scheduled” to retire at any time this year. In a passing statement he mentioned something he might do. It was not cut in stone. I believe it was published in all the papers too.

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