ANTIOCH -- If you had to pick someone to hold the city's most neutral elected position, Arne Simonsen and Argentina Davila-Luevano aren't names that would likely come to mind.
However, the two outspoken residents are running against each other for the job of city clerk.
Antioch is one of the few Contra Costa cities to elect its clerk, with Pleasant Hill being the only other to have a contested election this November.
Simonsen, a Republican councilman from 2000 to 2008, is not afraid to share his opinions against tax initiatives, retirement pensions, and government happenings at the federal, state and local level.
Davila-Luevano also has a politically charged background. A social worker and former director in a Latino civil rights organization, Democrat Davila-Luevano ran unsuccessfully for Antioch City Council in 2002, where she was endorsed and financially backed by several labor groups. She has helped with several local campaigns, including Reggie Moore, Tom Torlakson and Jim Frazier.
Both are fully aware that, if elected, they would have to muzzle their opinions.
"I've had to do that in my previous lifetime; I was quickly put in a position where you cannot share parochial views," said Simonsen, pointing how his time served as a linguist in the Navy.
"I know it's a nonpartisan position, but I really believe I can represent all people and all groups and be an excellent ambassador of good will," Davila-Luevano said.
Duties for the now part-time clerk position include attending council meetings and taking minutes, preparing announcements for openings on city commissions and presiding over ceremonial functions.
Simonsen says he wants to be able to provide residents as much city materials as possible, including on the city website, so residents can form their own decisions.
"People may wonder why the city is spending $11 million for a bridge, but then they can see the explanation where the money is coming from," he said.
Davila-Luevano said she had aspirations of running for City Council, but held back this time because of how expensive it would be. Still, she sees the clerk position as a good fit.
"My motto is to bring transparency, integrity and professionalism to the position," she said.
Both Simonsen and Davila-Luevano said they would like to relocate the clerk's office back down to the first floor of City Hall for public accessibility. It was moved to the third floor earlier this year.
If elected, Simonsen hopes to work in the office in the mornings Monday through Thursday. He also aims to get minutes from council meetings posted online in a timely fashion.
Davila-Luevano says her education and employment background in working as a legal assistant and secretary at a young age, along with her ability to multitask, make her an asset in the clerk position.
Contentious elections for the normally low-key clerk position aren't new in Antioch. In June 1998, the contest between Jolene Martin and Martha Parsons came down to who could be the least partisan in the nonpartisan office.
The salary, car allowance and benefits received by the elected city clerk ranges from $12,000 to $20,000 per year, depending on eligibility, city officials said last summer, when a ballot measure make the city clerk was handily defeated.
The elected position cost $14,173 in total compensation in the year 2011.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.