While Mary Helen Rocha was expected to be re-elected for the Antioch City Council, Monica Wilson was the story of the night as she edged out former Mayor James Davis for the final seat by 284 votes. It’s a tribute to her hard work has she was non-stop working for votes until the polls closed on Tuesday at 8:00 pm.
Wilson was considered to be the dark horse in the race while her platform focused on supporting small business and expanding job opportunities, improving code enforcement to reduce blight, increase the police force, and improve transportation needs.
While it remains to be seen if she can be the change Antioch residents desire, it’s a start and she should be given the opportunity to make an impact which I believe she can given some time.
I spoke with her for about forty-five minutes last night to congratulate her, but to also get her thoughts on what had just occurred in Antioch. She explained how she felt like she had been living a good dream for the past 24-hrs and kept asking for someone to pinch her because she wanted to make sure it was real.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet, I am just so excited. This is surreal,” said Wilson. “So many people helped me. Senator DeSaulnier came out and walked doors. Assemblywoman Bonilla gave me great advice. I was so impressed with the local people who reached out to me and we would meet to discuss Antioch’s future. They wanted to help and offered advice from an un-elected standpoint. It was really neat to get advice from an elected as well as people I just met. It really was a good mix of support.”
She explained how many people in Antioch appreciated her efforts and how she met some amazing residents that she considers to be lifelong friends going forward. She mentioned two by name.
“While there are many people who helped and too many to name, Beverly Knight and David Chuey were two examples of people who I never met before running and they turned into wonderful friends in the process. They are people I admire. These types of friendships came out of the blue and regardless of how it turned out, I feel like we made a connection and would have stayed friends,” said Wilson.
She admitted her campaign strategy was heavily focused around walking precincts and meeting as many people as possible. She walked up until 8pm on election night encouraging folks to go vote—judging by the results that made the difference.
“We knocked on doors. It really put us over. I worked from 7am to 8pm to get those last few votes to come in,” explained Wilson. “What really helped me was knocking on doors and going out on Election Day working for votes. Had I not been working on Election Day, we probably would have had a different outcome.”
She had been walking for months after work and on weekends. After the time change, she was forced to cut back to only weekends.
“When I was knocking on doors early in the process people said I was the first two knock on my door. When we got down to two-weeks I still got people saying I was the first to knock on the door. When we got down to election day, one person said I was the first person to knock on their door since Tom Torlakson,” explained Wilson.
Since the results were announced, it’s been nonstop with people reaching out to her with congratulations and wanting to have lunch. She was amazed how quickly news spreads with social media.
“Different people have reached out to me to congratulate me. People in other races, outside of Antioch or people I just met have either recalled or emailed me, posting on Facebook or my college university website… people have been happy for me and it makes me feel really good,” said Wilson.
She will never forget the feeling she had when she walked into newly elected State Assemblyman Jim Fraziers event on Election Night in Antioch and people began congratulating her.
“The minute I walked in, they said “We have been talking about your race all night. That was an amazing feeling and remember thinking did that just really happen,” said Wilson.
When I asked her about the best advice that someone gave me during the campaign she didn’t hesitate.
“The person told me to try not to listen to the noise and to stay focused on what you are doing. They encouraged me to stay the course. People are going to say things, its noise, stay focused. That advice worked and paid off because noise did happen, but I kept walking and knocking on doors,” explained Wilson.
Noise did happen as a local paper questioned Wilson’s qualifications while suggesting because she works outside of Antioch, she would unreachable during the day. While Wilson was polite about it, I reject those publishers’ thoughts because she has proven to be available during the campaign.
“This is something I worked on before I decided to run. I made adjustments to my work schedule to prep my employer and there is a plan in place with full support. I have a lot more flexibility to serve the College at Mills while being available to meet with residents of Antioch,” stated Wilson.
She believes her work history has prepared her to serve and can be an asset to the community from the council.
“When I am finally seated, I will begin to look at my skills and see what are transferable to serving on the council in order to be successful for the people of Antioch. There are a lot of skills I can carry over, but some things I am not going to know and won’t proclaim to know. I will seek out the information and do my best to represent Antioch,” said Wilson.
She plans to continue with her monthly clean ups and become more involved now that the campaign is over, however, she would like to work on expanding the program because it’s a benefit to the community.
“It’s fun,” she Wilson. “It’s my friends that I get to hang out with and make a positive contribution to the city. We may now want to look into expanding these volunteer opportunities but look at off-shoot programs so we can get more people to come out.”
During our conversation Wilson was very gracious towards the win while being appreciative of all of her supporters. She appeared very humbled, excited, and ready to get to work.
“I would really like to reconnect with the folks who I met on the campaign trail to further discuss their ideas and see if we can make it happen. This is all so exciting,” said Wilson.
To find out more about Monica Wilson, you can visit her campaign website.
By Michael Burkholder