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Sandhu vows to make Lathrop more business friendly

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POSTED November 2, 2012 12:50 a.m.

LATHROP — Balwant Singh Sandhu is no stranger to the world of business.

For three decades he has cut his teeth on everything from liquor stores to supermarkets – gaining a keen sense of American commerce and what drives local markets in the process. He has long kept an eye on happenings in the communities where he operates.

And when an alleged deal that would have brought Costco to Lathrop, he says, was bungled, the former Manteca resident who moved to Lathrop back in July, felt the need to step up to the plate and ensure that nothing that major ever slips through the fingers of the community ever again.

He believes that earning a seat on the Lathrop City Council – one of two that are up for grabs in the election Tuesday – will provide that assurance.

“There are people on the council now that just don’t have any business experience,” Sandhu said. “They don’t know how to make deals. That project would have made Lathrop the No. 1 city in the county for new business and it would bring other businesses in.

“But now all of those stores and businesses are going to Manteca. That shouldn’t have been.”

Sandhu has been vocal during the months leading up to the election about how mayoral candidate Sonny Dhaliwal – a man he claimed was his friend at the time – knew that Costco was looking at Lathrop when they were planning on opening a store in the area.

Manteca ended up luring the warehouse superstore by waving annual sales tax payments for a set period of time with the hope that it would both satisfy the mega-retailer and provide the traffic that could spur future development in the area.

Business, he says, and the ability to understand and realize the benefits that it provides to a given community, is the crux of the campaign that he’s running.

Issues like public safety – the need to hire additional police officers to curb crime and firefighters to meet national staffing standards – are high on his list of priorities.

But its business, he says, that generates the jobs and the sales tax revenue that allows the city to take care of other arenas.

“If the economy is better here then maybe people don’t have to drive back and forth to the Bay Area,” he said. “Attracting those large businesses that provide jobs to the community will also bring small businesses. There are a lot of things that the city needs to do to get to that point. Sewer capacity is a big issue right now. Building housing that people can afford in this community is something else.

“But you can’t really address business issues unless you understand what it’s like to be in that position – you don’t know which questions to ask or which mindset is needed to solve the problems at hand.”

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