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Entrepreneur first challenger in 2010 Lathrop mayors race
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LATHROP – Lathrop entrepreneur J. Chaka Santos has officially announced he is running for mayor in the 2010 election for mayor.

Santos told the Bulletin his campaign will be focused on uniting the city council as “one core” and to bring more revenue-generating businesses to Lathrop.

“My first goal is to bring the city council together as one core. Then I’ll start calling friends of mine that are CEOs of businesses to come to Lathrop and we’ll make things right. We want to be the same core with the vision to help the people. That’s the bottom line – to bring prosperity to this community,” said Santos who is taking a second political swing at being mayor of San Joaquin County’s youngest incorporated city.

He came in second to Mayor Kristy Sayles in the November 2008 elections in a four-way campaign, with Council member Robert Oliver finishing third followed by retired law enforcement officer John Rock. Sayles won by getting the nod from 1,183 Lathrop voters, while Santos garnered 821 votes.

Familiar face at
council meetings

Santos, is a Marine Corps veteran, has never made his desire to unseat Sayles a secret but has never officially declared his candidacy until now. A familiar face in the audience at council meetings, he has been a constant critic of the mayor whom he called “a lame duck” during one such appearance at the podium.

Explaining why he considers Sayles a lame duck, Santos said, “She can’t pull the votes anymore- she does not have (former Council member Felicia) Cherry and (Vice Mayor Martha) Salcedo behind her anymore. They were the three blind mice because they did not see the vision that’s needed to bring the city into prosperity. All they saw is what they can get for themselves and how to look good.”

Cherry, along with incumbent council member Sonny Dhaliwal, ran uncontested in the 2006 November elections which catapulted Sayles to her first elected term of office as mayor. Exactly a year after she took her oath of office, Cherry resigned from her two-year term citing personal reasons. And while Salcedo has voted alongside Sayles on a number of occasions, she also has dissented from the mayor on several major issues such as the sending of delegates this year to the annual One Voice trip to Washington, D.C., organized by the San Joaquin Council of Governments.

The father of two and grandfather of four, Santos further criticized the mayor for voting against Chevron’s move to Lathrop.

“She said about Chevron, ‘I know it’s good for the city but I’m not voting for it.’ What has she really done for the community? To get a community garden? C’mon, that’s a joke.”

Chevron, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in San Ramon and the world’s fourth largest non-government energy company, is now in the process of moving its emergency regional operations at a building that is now completed in the TCN Properties’ development on the south side of Towne Center Drive on the west side of Interstate 5 at Mossdale Landing.

Will debate mayor
anytime, anyplace

Santos said she would also be willing to debate the mayor “anytime, anyplace, anywhere.”

Sayles has not made any official announcement about seeking a second elected term as mayor of Lathrop to date.

Alluding to Sayles’ famous and contentious acceptance of developers’ donations to her campaign fund, Santos stated that he will not be accepting any such favors.

“I can’t be bought off by anybody. I will not receive any donations from any developers, period. You can put that in gold print. This is about need, not greed. I’m for real and this is a real deal,” Santos said.

As for today’s hot-button issue as to what is the most fiscally feasible solution to the city’s dilemma about what type of police services the city should have other than the current contract it has with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, Santos said, “The Sheriff’s Office is doing a great job, but my consensus is that we need to have our own police force, not with police officers on a three-year rotation basis.”

Further, he said, “we want police officers who will be able to speak to their own council and to pick their own uniform.”

As for the city being financially able to have its own police force, Santos said, “If everything works out (and he wins) in 2010, we’ll have a lot of money in 2011. I’m going to bring as much business as I can to the city.”

 He strongly believes that Lathrop will be able to do just that “because Lathrop is in a major business corridor – highways 99, 5, 120, 205 – it’s very quick on and off from the freeway. Lathrop is very attractive to business.”

Santos added that he has already started his campaign by trying to reach every citizen in Lathrop by foot power.

“This time, I’m going out there,” he said about knocking on every door.

“I’m not going to criticize the mayor; I’m not going to criticize the council. I’m not going to tell you what you want to hear; I’m going to tell you what you need to hear. I’m not a liberal, I’m not a conservative. What I am is a problem solver. I’m a consensus individual – bringing people together to solve a problem,” Santos said.

To contact Rose Albano Risso, e-mail or call (209) 249-3536.