ANTIOCH – A resident distressed about the state of crime in Antioch plans to launch his second attempt Tuesday to recall Mayor Wade Harper.Longtime resident Rich Buongiorno attempted to file a notice of intent to begin a recall petition of the mayor in November last year, but missed the deadline by one day.
At the root of the recall effort is a rising crime rate and promises that Buongiorno said Harper has failed to keep. Harper said today that his top priority is to keep Antioch residents safe.
Buongiorno said Harper campaigned on a “zero tolerance” platform for crime and pledged to hire more police officers.
“He made a promise that he would bring crime down,” Buongiorno said. “But since he has been on the City Council and mayor, crime has gone up.” The city is working to get more officers on the streets and received a grant to hire five additional police officers, Harper said.
Between 2010 and 2013, the last year for which statistics were available, violent crime increased by roughly 10 percent and property crime increased by more than 40 percent, according to the FBI and statistics provided by Antioch police. At the time Harper was elected to the City Council in 2010, Antioch police Chief Allan Cantando said the city had just faced its toughest economic recession in decades.
The city was purging jobs and the police department was cut by nearly 30 percent before Harper took office, Cantando said. With the recession and reduced police resources, Cantando said it wouldn’t have been unexpected to see crime go up in that time. “It’s pretty unrealistic to pin it on one person,” Cantando said.Cantando said the mayor, who is a retired police lieutenant, has been supportive of the police department during his tenure and supported both ballot measures C and O, which contributed funding to the police department.
Both the police chief and mayor said crime decreased by 10 percent last year. Cantando expects to release a report to the City Council on 2014 crime rates within the month, he said.
Although he admits other councilmembers may be culpable, Buongiorno said, “You can’t recall the whole council. There are election codes that stop that from happening. Instead, Buongiorno said he’s going after the proverbial “head of the snake.”
Buongiorno intends to file the notice of intent again on Tuesday, the first day the elections clerk will be back from vacation, he said. After that, Buongiorno will have six months to gather the nearly 9,000 requisite signatures, he said.