Home Antioch Editorial: Recalling Mayor Harper a Waste of Time and Offers False Hope

Editorial: Recalling Mayor Harper a Waste of Time and Offers False Hope

by ECT

As the recall effort to remove Antioch Wade Harper moves forward, we would hope Antioch residents have enough sense to look long-term and see the big picture.

The recall will do absolutely nothing to change the direction of the City of Antioch.

We say this because of the current state of the City Council. Today, most votes will be 4-1 on policy leaning to the “left”. Replacing Harper, you may move closer to the center in some 3-2 votes at best—thus, no change in direction.

Furthermore, who is to say Antioch voters would not vote for someone similar to Harper? Thus, really nothing does change and this exercise was all for nothing other than a name change.

The recall proponents have made Mayor Harper out to be the “head of the snake” and all that is wrong with Antioch because he is not doing is job. Being left out of this debate is the “unified council”. In fact, we have named this the “Kumbaya Council” because they would rather get along going with the flow than debate the tough issues and hurt each other’s feelings.

The truth is, a lot of the council’s movements are predetermined with consensus because there is a lack of leadership—but instead a majority rule on issues before its on the agenda and voted on.

Unfortunately, a lack of leadership is not a reason for a recall. It’s just the result of someone who is terrible at politics. Maybe in the 1700’s you could throw a captain off the side of a boat, but replacing elected officials do not work that way.

Where the proponents of this recall have failed is they have focused only on Mayor Harper,

Using their own logic and reasoning as to why Harper should be replaced, they have left Mary Rocha, Monica Wilson and Tony Tiscareno alone. Shouldn’t a “unified” council as a whole be recalled if things are so bad in Antioch?

If folks really wanted change in Antioch as they claim, why would they not target the four council members?

For example, Monica Wilson’s time on council time has been limited to simply “getting by” working within a terrible budget and spending time focused on crime and getting services back. She had big plans, but due to circumstances beyond her control, a lot of her goals were put on the back-burner to try and move Antioch forward.

If you recall, Wilson ran on supporting small business, expanding job opportunities, improving code enforcement, increase the police force, and improve transportation needs. Voters in 2016 can decide if she has kept her campaign promises like Harper.

We would argue that because only Harper is being targeted, this is more of a vendetta than attempting to move Antioch forward.

The silly part of trying to move Antioch forward through a recall is you have former elected officials assisting the recall proponents–elected officials that have put Antioch in today’s mess. Why go backwards and why even give them the time of day? If they could not lead in the past, what has changed other than maybe a light bulb went off in their head.

While we admit Mayor Harper’s leadership skills leave a lot to be desired that is no reason to replace a Mayor via a recall.  Even the ridiculous comment last year claiming crime is down after the Chief reporting overall crime was up is no reason to recall him.  instead, proponents should work to replace him in the next election if this is truly how they feel.

We will give Harper, as well as this council, the benefit of the doubt that they are doing the best they can under the circumstances they were given. If you recall, their predecessors who made terrible budget decisions which netted a reduction in police officers and city services. Those moves led to a lot of issues now facing the city today.

You also had the economic downturn which killed the city’s revenue as they nearly went bankrupt.

What is interesting with all this talk of crime being the issue for the recall. Never did they once call for police chief Allan Cantando to be fired. They never questioned his leadership nor was the blame on the police department–it went straight to the council and Mayor Harper.

People do not realize, this council listened to the police department and followed their advice and with full support. The result is crime is actually being reduced. We say this with the caveat that there is a ton of room for improvement, but 6% is a good start given the alternative. If you recall, crime was everyones number one issue when they had shooting after shooting for a period of two-weeks.  The council stayed the course and in 2014 crime was down 6% from 2013.

As a result, the recall proponents moved onto economic development and highlighting that a 150 businesses have left since Harper became mayor.

What the proponents are not sharing is that city services have been restored, police staffing levels have been increased, code enforcement is back, and the city is not in a threat to go bankrupt like it once was. The benefit is now with the City on solid footing and with more staff, the community will now begin to see the rewards.

Unfortunately, that does not happen over night. It will take some more time and a lot more discussion.

Antioch voters should reject this recall for the following reasons:

  • Antioch cannot afford a recall and the money could be better spent elsewhere.
  • Crime is being reduced. The 2014 figures showed a 6% drop in crime when compared to 2013 as more officers were hired.
  • Code Enforcement is working hard to remove garbage and blight. Furthermore, what other city has residents assisting with eyes on the streets looking out for garbage dumps? This is a great resident/city partnership.
  • The timing makes little sense because by the time Harper would be removed from office, he would have a little over a year left on his term. Therefore, whoever replaces Harper would likely accomplish next to nothing.
  • Succession plan? There is no plan in place of who would succeed Harper which the rule of thumb is if you remove an elected official from office, be sure you have a replacement lined up and folks are aware of what they would be getting in return—side note, under Antioch’s conditions, there is no guarantee things will even improve.

Ultimately, it would behoove the recall proponents to spend their time finding ways to improve Antioch as opposed to tearing down a Mayor and the city. After all, one man in a town of 106,000 people will not create change. Only a community can drive change.

If the proponents really want Harper out of Antioch politics, they should spend their time finding a solid candidate to replace him in 2016 and advocate on that candidates before starting today.

For now, they should stop wasting everyone’s time, city money, and providing false hope for change.

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Joe Union Feb 1, 2015 - 9:24 am

Editor… you are part right. Harper needs to go but in 2016.

Jim Feb 1, 2015 - 10:40 am

You suck ECT!

Nancy Fernandez Feb 1, 2015 - 10:41 am

ECT: I too agree with your comments partly. We must make great changes in 2016 and it is coming rapidly. I believe recall is for criminal acts not stupidity. You in the past have disagreed with me slightly. Kumbaya is exactly what that consultant from Washington was brought in for. A snow job on the public. This council does not challenge “staff” on anything and that is the first place they go wrong. Duran runs this council with a steel fist also. Ms. Wilson has time to grow a back bone still but if she doesn’t she will not be reelected. Since we lost Mr. Agopian Ms. Wilson has faded into the background and Harper loves that. Ms. Orenchalk needs to put Harper in his place and show us what she is made of.

Dana Feb 1, 2015 - 10:42 am

I want Harper gone, but not through a recall. Good points in this article but people should not forget his poor leadership in 2016. Harper, Wilson, and Rocha all need to be gone in 2016!

Lauren Smith Feb 1, 2015 - 10:45 am

“Kumbaya Council” is the perfect description for this council. OMG I love it. The only one with guts appears to be the newest council member and that is Ogorchock.

JimSimmons 42 Feb 1, 2015 - 10:49 am

ECT gets it right again looking at the big picture. Watch the anti-Harpers flock to FB and this page badmouthing ECT. I’ve had all of 3 people bring up the recall to me in Antioch and I know a lot of people. Most of Antioch does not feel like recalling a mayor and its not even on their radar. News media reports on the minority opinion making it feel like everyone agrees. I sure don’t. Nice job ECT for finally coming out against it.

Marty Fernandez Feb 1, 2015 - 11:31 am

ECT, since you seem to think it is a former elected official behind all of this “you have former elected officials assisting the recall proponents” I would like you to publicly back that up with your proof not just innuendo.

kim Feb 1, 2015 - 12:06 pm

I am torn, I support the recall but also agree with ECT. May be better off removing the mayor in 2016. I think the intend of the recall has changed to be more of a witch hunt which is never good. Things do seem to be getting better which I like. On the otherhand, Harper is a complete waste of space. Antioch does not win right now. I hope good candidates do come forward

Don Flunk Feb 1, 2015 - 12:08 pm

This recall is such a stupid idea, kudos ECT!

Arne Feb 1, 2015 - 12:15 pm

Just one correction: Code Enforcement works Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm. They never worked “round the clock”.

Karl dietzel Feb 1, 2015 - 1:00 pm

I alSo would like to see some names of the
“Former elected officials” who are assisting the recall.

Recall Next Feb 1, 2015 - 2:00 pm

Recall is the only way to tell these contra costa politicians we want our government back. They should recall the mayor and the two threatening county supervisors too. It is time to show these self-servers that the people are who they work for are not themselves but you and me the residients. Recall now and get back our government with true leaders for what the people want. Recall Harper, Piepho, and Mitchoff now. Time to send a message to these no good politicians.

Johnny Gonzales Feb 1, 2015 - 3:41 pm

Take back your government? Really? Who took it away from you? It’s people like you that want to stomp their feet in anger because your candidate did not win. They just had an election. They will have another one in 2016. At that point, feel free to go take your government back. Instead of complaining, go pick up a bag of trash.

David P. Feb 1, 2015 - 2:27 pm

@Recall Next

This idea thinking this recall is sending a message to the council is fool’s gold, they are just laughing at this effort because nothing has changed. Most voters do not care. While I am enjoying the comments from the peanut gallary on FB, ECT gets an A+ for saying what must of us wont say publicly and he is right.

The guys leading this recall is equivalent to the village idiot thinking a recall will save Antioch. He appears to be a conspiracy theorist with no skin in the game and after his little rant on FB in response to this, he should be committed. I have never seen him out making Antioch better; he just runs his mouth on the internet or during public comments. There is not even a good candidate to replace Harper. I will take a stab in the dark and say Jim Davis or Don Freitas is who would likely run. After that its slim pickings.

Agree with the conclusion, replace Harper in 2016. For now, Antioch gets what they deserve by not doing their homework during the last election.

EastCountyToday Feb 1, 2015 - 2:27 pm

Watch it, do not call people idiots for having a difference of opinion.

Bluto Feb 1, 2015 - 4:23 pm

The idiots that live in Antioch will keep electing these crooks (like Jeff Belle, for instance) to office. Why even bother? Just keep importing gang members from Richmond and Oakland.

Tommy Feb 1, 2015 - 5:50 pm

I would also like Mayor Harper to go, but I don’t mind waiting another year. The recall supporters should just save their money, time, energy, and effort in searching and campaigning a more qualified candidate for mayor. They have an entire year to do this, which is plenty of time to inform and convince the public who they should vote for in this upcoming elections. Just spend the money they saved up on brochures, pamphlets, TV ads, door-to-door, or whatever they need to do to inform the residents. Also both Wilson and Rocha needs to go, because this city desperately needs actual “creative leaders”, and not seat warmers…

jamesmarchetti Feb 3, 2015 - 7:40 pm

While I am no fan of the mayor, a recall is an expensive endeavor considering that he will be up for reelection in 2016. In fact, we don’t if he even plans on running, do we?

Instead, I would like to see a solid list of candidates who are not enslaved to the unions, have run successful businesses, understand profit and loss, revenue flows, and, realize that the city of Antioch has been declining for a long time, not just the past 3 or 4 years.

Lastly, ANY candidate for any seat on the council needs to be laser focused on making that riverfront/downtown area the jewel of the Delta. SO much opportunity, so many false starts, wasted money on consultants and on and on and on…

Let the mayor simply fade away…

Julio Feb 4, 2015 - 9:07 am

But, Mr. Marchetti, Mr. Harper is going to run for Supervisor or Mayor. He is set on higher office so it is up to the voters to see that does not happen.

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