The gloves came off at last night’s Antioch City Council meeting between Mayor Don Freitas and his second-time challenger and Councilman Jim Davis. (Skip to 33.13 in your media player to watch the exchange.)
It was ugly. The men called each other nasty names like “liar” and “bully.” The body language alone was cold enough to flash-freeze a side of beef.
Before you read this, put this foremost in your mind: This is the silly season. Antioch reporter Hilary Costa is working to flesh this out for tomorrow’s paper but here’s what I know.
Davis alleges that Freitas and the City Clerk Jolene Martin engaged in an illegal conversation about his much-contested ballot designation request of “vice mayor” “mayor pro tem” prior to the close of filing for candidates. The title is typically disallowed because it is a rotated position rather than an elected one.
However, several of my colleagues at the Times reviewed the election code and the confidentiality provision appears to apply to the candidate statement, not to the ballot designation.
Davis believes the mayor misused his power and pushed behind the scenes for a city-paid legal opinion on the ballot designation for his own political purposes. Davis wants the mayor to reimburse the city for the legal costs, perhaps as much as $10,000.
Freitas denies that anything illegal took place and accused Davis of hijacking the council meeting in order to drum up a campaign issue.