Antioch mayor faces backlash after drunk citation
ANTIOCH — After less than two years as mayor of Antioch, Lamar Thorpe faces a vigorous recall effort still fueled by the fallout from a drunk driving arrest early in the morning last month.
The high-profile arrest prompted calls for him to resign from two of his city council colleagues, including one who said she would support recall efforts if he did not step down.
In a video posted to social media, Thorpe apologized to the community after admitting to having a drink at dinner and was cited on suspicion of driving under the influence on March 19. A breathalyzer revealed that he had a blood alcohol level above 0.08, the legal limit.
Now two council members who have clashed with the mayor in the past are asking Thorpe to step down, but the DUI citation is only part of the reason, they say.
Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, in a statement released the day after the DUI arrest, said Thorpe showed a “lack of control and poor decision-making.”
“He said he was sorry for his actions, well, how sorry is he really?” she wrote. “He wants us to believe he only had one drink with dinner. We all know that’s a mistake. So to me his apology is far from sincere.
Among his complaints, Ogorchock challenged the mayor for the headline of his campaign to fight efforts to recall him: “Stop Mayor Lamar Thorpe’s #Karen recall.”
“To call a woman today a ‘Karen’ is to conjure up an image of white privilege that in no way represents the life struggles that millions of women have endured to achieve equality, respect and representation. “, she wrote.
In an interview, Ogorchock said the mayor twice referred to her as “Karen.”
“He disagreed with me, and he’s a bully,” she said.
Ogorchock said that if Thorpe did not resign, she would put all her “energy into the success of the campaign to recall him as mayor”. She is not officially part of the recall campaign, however, Ogorchock added.
Thorpe has indicated he will not resign. “Being your mayor is one of the greatest honors of my life and I’m sorry if I embarrassed you in any way,” Thorpe said in the March 19 video.
The DUI citation, however, fell into the fold of the recall group, which did not return calls seeking comment but shared posts about it, encouraging signatures.
Thorpe did not address the allegations individually, but released a statement regarding the recall efforts.
“This is precisely why I wear this recall attempt as a badge of honor,” he wrote in a text to this newspaper. “Rather than seek to work with diverse viewpoints, this small handful of right-wing special interests continue to use the outdated politics of negativity and division to try to advance their outdated agenda.”
Thorpe ran on a progressive platform and spearheaded several reforms, including the purchase of police cameras, the formation of a police oversight committee and arrest the police to acquire new surplus military equipment.
“The vast majority of our city elected me because of my commitment to making our city a city of inclusion and opportunity,” he said.
Pro-Tem Mayor Mike Barbanica, a retired Pittsburgh police officer, also called on Thorpe to resign shortly after the DUI arrest, but for different reasons.
As for the DUI, he noted that it was “just a citation, not a conviction” at this point.
“But I think it’s the best thing for the city, (for him) to step down and sort out these issues, and I wish him the best in that,” Barbanica said.
Barbanica said he was unhappy with “the way the city is run at the moment”. He said it is difficult to get information and he cannot go directly to department heads with his requests. He said the formality slows down the process and was not necessary in the past.
“It’s not just a DUI that I think he should quit,” Barbanica said. “It’s the totality of what’s going on in the city and how it’s run and the issues we’re dealing with.”
Councilwoman Tamisha Torres Walker said she does not support a recall and would not ask Thorpe to resign from the five-member council.
“I just think when you start getting into people’s personal lives, you cross a very personal line,” she said, referring to the DUI citation.
Asked about the protocol of approaching the city manager first with questions and meeting with him or someone designated to answer them, she said it was the same with the former city manager. However, she added that council members should be informed of important events in the city in a timely manner, which has not always happened.
Councilwoman Monica Wilson could not be reached for comment.