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Santos, Dhaliwal: No bad feelings after mayor’s race

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POSTED November 14, 2012 2:06 a.m.

LATHROP – The election is over.

Lathrop Mayor-elect Sonny Dhaliwal knows this. Outgoing Lathrop Mayor Joseph “Chaka” Santos knows this. And by next month – when the newly elected members of the Lathrop City Council assume their posts – the residents of Lathrop will know this.

And even with all of the bitter allegations, the official investigations, and the infighting on the dais it appears that the man who had grand visions for Lathrop and the one who will try and shape the city with his own will transition smoothly for the betterment of the residents.

“I talked to the Mayor briefly, and we exchanged pleasantries – we didn’t talk about anything city related,” Dhaliwal said. “In the coming days I’ll be reaching out to him. I don’t think that there are any residual feelings related to the election. Right now we need to make sure that the council is united and focused on the future.”

Things started to get ugly earlier this year when Santos was the subject of an internal city investigation alleging that his inappropriate behavior was commonplace at City Hall. The heavily redacted report – which focused on his comments and actions towards a female city staffer – was ultimately forwarded on to the San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury.

They opted not to act – writing that the decision regarding personal conduct should be left up to the voters.

The council would eventually pass a resolution disapproving of his conduct after he allegedly harassed a different city employee for their involvement in the investigation. The matter came less than a month before the election, and Santos chalked the whole matter up to a political attempt to discredit him.

If true – despite the fact that the theory was negated by City Attorney Salvador Navarette – it worked.

Lathrop voters overwhelmingly tapped Dhaliwal as their next mayor – by a margin of 2-1 – and sent Santos packing.

Since it will take the Secretary of State until the end of the month to formally certify California’s election results, Santos will get one more night on the dais when he runs the council’s second November meeting next week.

Going into hiding and not showing up despite not getting the nod, he said, is not his style.

Neither is holding a public grudge that would be detrimental to the citizens of the community that he commonly refers to as the “jewel of the Delta.”

“I won. I have my family. My wife is alive. And no – I have no residual feelings towards anybody,” Santos said. “I have no residual feelings towards anybody. That’s politics in essence.

“I just want to see the city go in the right direction. When I spoke to Councilman Dhaliwal I told him that ‘You have an arduous journey ahead – a big journey ahead of you. If the council is next to you it’s going to be a lot easier. And you’ve always got to pat people on the back for a job well done.’”

The Lathrop City Council will meet again formally on Monday, Nov. 19. Dhaliwal will likely be sworn in as Lathrop’s next Mayor on Monday, Dec. 3. Both meetings will be held at Lathrop City Hall – located at 390 Towne Center Drive – and will begin at 7 p.m. They will also be broadcast live on Comcast Channel 97.

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