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Valencia running for mayor of Lathrop

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POSTED July 23, 2014 12:57 a.m.

LATHROP – When Rosalinda Valencia called for Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal to step down from his position at a meeting last month it drew a collective exasperated breath from the crowd. 

And now she’s backing up her brash approach. 

On Monday the multiple-time Lathrop City Council candidate announced that after considering another run at the council she has decided that she’ll make a play for Dhaliwal’s seat instead – the only person so far to take out the necessary candidate’s papers for the mayor’s seat. 

Dhaliwal, who has not yet said whether he has intentions of seeking reelection, will have until Aug. 8 to pull the papers and gather the necessary signatures – Lathrop requires a minimum of 20 although 30 can be submitted – to qualify for the November ballot. The city does not charge a filing fee. 

“I was going to run for city council and I was hoping that somebody else was going to run for mayor,” Valencia said Monday night at a meeting of the Lathrop council. “But since they have not stepped up to the plate and I’m tired of Lathrop getting made a fool of and I’m tired of the lawsuits and I’m tired of the favoritism and I’m tired of all of the other stuff that’s going on here, I’m going to run for mayor.”

But Valencia won’t be the only familiar face hoping to appeal to mid-term voters. 

Former councilman Christopher Mateo – who was elected by voters in 2008 and ran unsuccessfully for California’s 12th assembly seat against Modesto’s Kristin Olsen in 2012 – has signaled that he’d like to make a return to political life by declaring his candidacy for council. Past candidate Brent Maynor was the first to pull the paperwork for the two available council seats, neither of which are currently being filled by anybody formally elected to the council. 

In 2010 Vice Mayor Omar Ornelas, who finished third behind Dhaliwal and then-candidate Gene Neely, was appointed to serve a four-year term when Neely announced before the election that regardless of the results he would not seek the post after being named the chief of the Lathrop Manteca Fire District. When Dhaliwal beat incumbent Joseph “Chaka” Santos in 2012 for the mayor’s seat, the remaining two years on his term were bequeathed to Paul Akinjo – who, like Ornelas, was the next leading vote getter in the election. 

Akinjo is the only incumbent so far to pull candidate’s papers. Connie Lum-Perez has declared her candidacy for the council as well but had not, as of Monday, taken the preliminary steps to qualify for the ballot. 

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