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Three fifths of Lathrop council faces re-election

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POSTED January 31, 2014 1:44 a.m.

LATHROP – For his first two years on the Lathrop City Council, Omar Ornelas dealt with turmoil.

The then-mayor very publicly tried to block his appointment to the council after a winning candidate announced they wouldn’t be assuming the seat, and the feud between the two after that point was at times very public.

But with the last 18 months providing cohesion among the council members, Ornelas said that if the election for another term were held tomorrow, he’d more than likely seek another four years at the helm.

“I’m proud of the work that we’ve been doing as a city and as a council, and I’d like to see that work continue,” Ornelas said. “The election is still a very long ways away, and a lot can happen between now and then. I’m set to graduate this year and the reality of a full-time job will likely come after that.

“If the election was held tomorrow, I would say absolutely. But we’ll have to see what happens as time goes on.”

Both Ornelas and Councilman Paul Akinjo will have to seek reelection in November to secure their seats. Akinjo was appointed to fill out the remainder of Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal’s term when he was elected as mayor much the same way that Ornelas was appointed to a full term nearly four years ago.

And since the mayor’s seat is up every two years, Dhaliwal will have to make a decision soon on whether he’s going to throw his hat in the ring for another go-around.

He’s not ready to do that just yet.

“The election is almost a year away and right now my focus is on completing the projects that we started, keeping the city financially solvent and bringing more businesses and jobs to the community,” Dhaliwal said. “The thought of reelection hasn’t entered my mind yet – that’s probably something that I’ll consider when the time comes.

“Right now my focus is doing the job that the people elected me to do.”

Councilman Steve Dresser was elected to the council for the second time when the last round of elections came up. Councilwoman Martha Salcedo was given another four years at the same time.

Since then development has once again taken off in the community – something that Ornelas said makes the current time “exciting to be a part of” – and the city is moving forward with capital improvement and municipal construction projects.

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