Those thinking about entering the pool of candidates that the Lathrop City Council will draw their next colleague from will have until Wednesday to make a decision.
All of those who have submitted an application to the city clerk by Wednesday, Jan. 20 by 5 p.m. will be interviewed by the council on Thursday, Jan. 21 at 5:30 p.m. and a decision about who will be appointed to serve the 10-month window before the November general election when the seat will be up for another two-year term.
When councilman Omar Ornelas resigned at the end of 2015 with nearly three years left on his four-year term, the city got placed in an predicament that hasn’t happened in some time – rather than appointing or electing somebody to serve out the remainder of the term, the chosen person will only serve the rest of the first half of the term before being up for election in November.
If the person chosen by the council next week – the announcement of which will come at Lathrop’s Feb. 1 council meeting – does wish to continue beyond the appointed portion of the term, they’ll have to run in the November general election to secure the next two years of the term. That particular seat will once again be up for another four years in November of 2018.
But there is a catch to the position.
The council opted to appoint rather than call a special election in June because spending $43,000 so that somebody could serve only for a matter of months seemed like a “waste of money” and the council has previously chosen to appoint rather than elect those who are taking over portions of an available seat.
But if the person who is appointed wants to secure a four-year term in November – the seats of Martha Salcedo and Steve Dresser will be up, as will the Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal’s position – they’ll have the opportunity to do just that and create a scenario where other people can run for the remaining two years of the term. Because Ornelas did not reach the halfway mark before resigning to pursue other career opportunities in the educational field in Sacramento, the city has guidelines on how the position can be filled and the length of time and said appointment will be valid for.
Those seeking appointment need to fill out a three-page form that lists their qualifications, their community service history and the reason that they’re seeking appointment and what they think they can bring to the existing council. There are also sections on the form for community activities and special awards, and an educational background section will provide even more information to the council before they make their decision.
Ornleas’ decision to leave the council came as a shock when he announced it less than a month before he was set to say goodbye. He was only 19-years-old when he was appointed to serve out a full four-year term when Lathrop Manteca Fire District Chief Gene Neely announced that because he had promoted to the department’s top chair he wouldn’t be seeking the position. His name was already certified to be on the ballot, and it was past the date to remove it.
Councilman Paul Akinjo, who was elected at the same time that Ornelas was in 2014, had previously been appointed to serve the remainder of Sonny Dhaliwal’s term when he ascended to the Mayor’s position.
A copy of the form that needs to be submitted to the City Clerk is available on the City of Lathrop’s website at www.ci.lathrop.ca.us. The application is listed under the announcements portion of the front page. For more information contact the Lathrop City Clerk at 209.941.7230.