Reflecting on Antioch’s 150-year history during his Sesquicentennial State of the City address, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe called for a transformation into this once sleepy river town, now one of the fastest growing cities in the Bay Area. has become one of
Speaking from the newly renovated chambers of the city council in this week’s address, the city’s 41st mayor and second African-American mayor pointed to the city’s racial diversity and the opportunity it now offers to people of all backgrounds.
“As throughout our history, the power of diverse communities working together has always been in heart and soul to drive long-term success,” he said. “And, for those who are uncomfortable with change, it’s never been about forgetting either of you.
“On the contrary, it has always been about giving others the opportunity to enjoy themselves while being able to add their point of view to the conversation.”
Thorpe, who was elected mayor in 2020, said some of those new perspectives come from people like homeless advocates working to secure homes for the homeless, youth who rallied against police brutality, As well as parents who reminded leaders to include children. of all abilities in their Parks and Recreation plans.
“These are just a few examples of voices and attitudes that have historically been pushed out of City Hall,” he said. “I assure you and others that as long as I am mayor – and I will be mayor for the next three years – that there is room for you in this chamber.”
Thorpe said the city’s position, on its 150th birthday, was “as strong as it can be.”
He thanked his council colleagues and city employees for their hard work, saying, “We’ve never had such determination to do things like we do today.”
Thorpe pointed to achievements such as police reform, with mostly bipartisan support, the acquisition of police body cameras and vehicle cameras, improved recruitment practices and training for police, and a ban on restraint techniques that could lead to positional asphyxiation.
He also marked the city’s “multiple victories”, such as its historic apology for discriminatory practices for its early Chinese residents as well as beautification efforts and climate change policies and more.
Although there is usually a time to rattle off achievements, the mayor said that he is “not your typical mayor and these are not typical times.”
“For Antioch to become a city where economic growth, job creation, business, entrepreneurship flourish, we have to have public safety,” he said. “And that starts with focusing on our most vulnerable populations and building a quality police force.”
Thorpe has said in the past that the city “spent your millions of tax dollars chasing (homeless) humans from corner to corner, knowing they had nowhere to go.”
“No matter how many programs there were, the success rate was low because we could not provide temporary stability in the form of housing to our most vulnerable residents,” he said.
That changed this week with the decision to move forward with plans for state HomeKey program funding to build transitional housing, he said.
“The Executive Inn, with appropriate wraparound services, will become a reality (in the form of transitional housing) this year,” Meyer thanked his colleagues for their work.
Thorpe also outlined what would be the city’s — and the county’s — first on-mobile crisis response team, called the Antioch Cares Team.
“This is the crown of our first phase of police reform efforts, built largely on the advocacy work of District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson and at the forefront of the custodial death of Angelo Quinto,” he said.
“Transitional Housing, together with our new non-police mental health crisis response team, will dramatically change our public safety efforts for good,” he said.
Thorpe also cited a new Department of Public Safety and Community Resources, envisioned by councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker, that would allow police to focus more on crime.
“We are reducing the undue burden on police officers to solve all our problems, from homelessness to mental health,” he said.
Thorpe said the new department will serve as a one-stop shop for direct service city services, such as code enforcement, animal services, Antioch Care Team, youth development services and more.
Mayer also introduced new interim police chief Steven Ford. “His appointment has expanded our breadth and depth in transforming institutional culture … I am confident that Dr. Ford will lead this organization to a stronger, better tomorrow.”
“Now that we are ending some of the responsibilities for the police department, let me make it completely clear to those who have come to Antioch to wreak havoc with gun violence… If this is the Wild West, you will be found, then you will be prosecuted and you will be put in prison.”
Thorpe said he would ask for money in the upcoming budget process for the ShotSpotter Gunshot Detection System to help with those efforts.
Meyer also praised Police Captain Anthony Morfield for his forward-thinking leadership in securing a partnership with the Justice Department “that helps us investigate our inner workings.” Under the program, police receive training, technology and resources from the DOJ as part of its National Public Safety Partnership Program.
Thorpe said he was working towards building a new town square and a new Veterans Park walkway downtown, as well as restoring the Roswell Butler Hard House, the home of Antioch’s first mayor, and the location of the city’s first council meeting. was excited to work. ,
“It’s history that’s being wasted out there because we’ve neglected it for many years,” Thorpe said. “So, as we work to restore that building, we are proud of it that will be a symbol of our city going forward.”