There will likely be two new faces on the Lathrop Fire District Board of Directors once the dust settles.
After updated election results were posted by the San Joaquin Registrar of Voters on Friday, two newcomers widened their leads over an incumbent-heavy field and if the trends hold, both will be representing the agency that serves the City of Lathrop and rural Manteca, and Lathrop for the next four years.
Current French Camp-McKinely Fire Captain John Gish widened his overall lead as the top vote getter, and newcomer John Coe – who also works in emergency services – extending his lead over incumbent Bennie Gatto to 213 votes that will have to withstand the 65,000 outstanding ballots that have yet to be counted in San Joaquin County.
Current board President Gloryanna Rhodes – a former Lathrop mayor – is currently in second place and will likely be reelected.
According to the registrar, of the 90,000 absentee and provision ballots that had not been counted that were outstanding last week, only 30,000 of those were tailed before the Friday numbers were posted online. While those numbers will likely not sway the order of finish as it currently stands for the Lathrop Fire Board, it could play a role in shifting the outcome of who is elected to the Lathrop City Council.
Councilwoman Martha Salcedo – who didn’t campaign for what would be her third term, and spent almost no money – secured more than 32 percent of the vote in a five-person field and will likely earn another four years representing the residents of Lathrop. The gap between political newcomer Ruben Sandoval and appointed councilman Mark Elliott – who was tapped earlier this year to serve until the election in the seat previously held by councilman Omar Ornelas, who resigned in January – is currently too close to call.
Sandoval, who was a professor at ITT Technical Institute before the school shuttered its doors late this summer, currently holds an 89 vote lead over Elliott.
And it isn’t like leapfrogging a candidate at the final tally hasn’t happened before.
In 2014, Ornelas was trailing going into the final days before the certified results were released, and longtime Lathrop resident Connie Lum Perez was sitting to become the city’s newest councilmember. When every ballot was counted, however, Ornelas jumped into his second term, and ended up only serving just over a year of it before leaving to pursue career options. It was Elliott that was tapped to fill that time, and rather than running for the unexpired term – which will go to Councilman Steve Dresser – he sought a full four years.
It could take right up until the Secretary of State’s certification deadline for all of the votes to be counted.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.