View Mobile Site

Much ado about nothing in Lathrop council campaign?

Text Size: Small Large Medium
POSTED September 28, 2012 12:37 a.m.

LATHROP – Its election season in Lathrop again.

That means the gloves come off. Accusations fly. Private investigators are called in. The dirty laundry, folks, gets strung along Lathrop Road like Christmas lights.

There is no subtlety – no quiet jabs at the opponent while speaking to local business leaders. This isn’t the time to sneak in hints about what they do behind closed doors – it’s all out war without the Geneva Convention.

But what happens when legitimate questions get raised? When somebody uncovers a trail of paperwork that calls a candidate’s residency into question, and therefore the very integrity of his campaign and the intentions of those that backed his entry into the race?

We’re all about to find out.

Grab the popcorn.

Over the course of the last week the backchannels have been abuzz with chatter about how council hopeful and local businessman Balwant Sandhu actually lays his head to rest on a pillow in Manteca. That the address he listed on his application – which was accepted by the Lathrop City Clerk and certified – is simply a business listing and a front for a candidacy that others may have a vested interest in.

This scenario poses a problem on multiple levels. First, it instantly casts a shadow over a man that may legitimately have all of his legal paperwork in order. Besides, there is a house as well at the address. We’re innocent until proven guilty in this country, but the court of public opinion has, from what I can tell, already commenced and things aren’t looking good.

One council candidate speculated in an email that Sandhu’s candidacy was, supposedly, affiliated with Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos – who was there at his kickoff event and has been present at several of his fundraisers since. According to the email, Santos might be trying to play dirty in his race against current Councilman and Mayoral candidate Sonny Dhaliwal by trying to split the Indian vote and ensure a second term.  Nice try but Sandhu is running for the council seat and Dhaliwal for mayor.

And while Sandhu says that he’s lived in Lathrop since July 18, a paper trail exists that some contend calls into question how much of an interest he truly does have in Lathrop.

 Last August, Sandhu was one of a handful of people who put in an application for one of two available Manteca Planning Commission seats. He listed an address in Manteca. He signed as a Manteca registered voter. And the paper was filed and recorded along with the rest of the minutes from the meeting.

He wasn’t selected.

Now, nearly all of this is speculation. Nobody yet has a picture of him walking out of a Manteca home in the morning with a cup of coffee to grab his morning paper, so there’s a lot of guesstimating going on right on. Besides, Sandhu could have moved to Lathrop. People do it all the time.

But there has been paperwork filed with the Fair Political Practices Committee and the California Secretary of State. An investigation is supposedly pending, and I personally know of two different people that have taken their complaint to the state level.

And that makes it a public matter.

Something similar happened a few years back in a Manteca City Council race when Manteca Park Golf Course Professional Alan Thomas took a shot at a council seat, and used an address for a Mayor’s Park home that he owned – a property that people speculated he didn’t actually live in.

Nothing ever came of it, and as one City Clerk told me earlier this week, they more often than not have to go off of what’s provided on the paperwork.

So here’s to hoping that everything checks out. Hopefully Sandhu is legitimately running as his own man (he has some great ideas on how to promote business in the community) and does reside at the address that is listed on his paperwork. Hopefully all of the speculation can be proven false.

Because Lathrop doesn’t need this. The people deserve better than this – the political grenades and the bickering and the infighting and the lack of stability that prevents the sort of governing that truly needs to take place for the community to move forward.

There’s already a solid city staff in place that can handle any task that’s thrown at them. They just need direction that doesn’t come laced with backroom deals, bad intentions and the general shiftiness and misdirection that appears to be standard fare.

Until then, strap on your Kevlar and dig in.

It’s going to be a bumpy ride from here on out.

Commenting is not available.

Commenting not available.

Please wait ...