Antioch officials and city staff rolled out the red carpet last week for members of the community during the annual State of the City luncheon at the Antioch Community Center.
Hosted by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, the event’s tagline “Opportunity Lives Here,” offered a look at the city’s accomplishments, goals and vision for the coming year.
Chief of Police Tammany Brooks, City Manager Ron Bernal and Mayor Sean Wright spoke at the sold-out event to an audience of local business owners, community members and residents.
Brooks led off his talk addressing the city’s reputation.
“Why does Antioch have a bad rap?” Brooks said. “Why does it have a bad reputation? Because, quite honestly, at one point we earned it.”
Now, however, said Brooks, violent crime in the city has decreased by 43.6 percent, and property crime dropped by 30 percent, from 2012 to 2018.
“We are not that city of 2012,” he said. “I am not saying that Antioch does not have crime, but what I am saying is that our crime picture has been significantly reduced ... and we have changed what Antioch looks like, from a crime-prevention standpoint.”
The police department now has the highest number of sworn officers in a decade, at 105, with plans to continue growing that number over the next few years.
City Manager Ron Bernal touched on the city’s strategic plan for directing resources over the next five to 10 years. Plans for creating a better quality of life for the city’s residents include such projects as: the brackish desalination plant; blight eradication; development of the marina area; the Hillcrest Specific Plan, which includes the BART station as a central element; and increasing activities and services to both the senior and youth communities.
Bernal also didn’t shy away from the homeless population. He said that the city is working with the county to put a care facility in Antioch, because East Contra Costa County has 45 percent of the homeless population, none of the facilities to accommodate them, and the city is looking for ways to help.
Mayor Wright rounded out the event with his passion for the community and an outline of the city’s plans for the future.
“We have chosen a new vision,” said Wright. “Antioch is a desired destination in the Bay Area. This is a place that people want to move to. This is a place that others want to be a part of, and this is what we are driving toward.”
The passage of Measure W (a one-cent sales tax over the next 20 years) will play a large part in fulfilling those goals, Wright said, noting, “We asked our community with Measure W to give us the resources we need to drive toward that future, and two thirds of the community said ‘yes.’”
Wright added that he would like to see the addition of more police and code-enforcement officers, as well as an increase in youth services.
“Even good youth with time on their hands will make mistakes,” he said.
Wright also spoke about creating drop-in centers and boys and girls clubs where area youth will be welcome.
“The vision is to have three drop-in centers in town by the end of next year, and because of Measure W, we are going to be able to drive toward that future,” he said.
Wright praised the chief of police, city manager and the support staff for helping move Antioch in the forward direction, adding, “Our citizens deserve for Antioch to be the place that citizens want to move to.”
The full video of the event’s speakers can be viewed at youtu.be/_4yvwiZXuP0.