By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Dhaliwal secures seat; race tight for 2nd spot
Placeholder Image
LATHROP – Lathrop Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal’s overwhelming victory is bittersweet.

His spectacular showing in Tuesday’s elections came just a day after his mother’s passing. The newly re-elected council member took the lead early on in the counting of the votes and never looked back as he pulled way ahead of the other four council candidates, counting Gene Neely who withdrew from the race last month after he was appointed chief of the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District.

As of 12:30 a.m. and with 40 percent of the votes from four precincts tallied, Neely’s 25.41 percent of the votes was the closest to Dhaliwal’s 43.63 percent. Trailing behind were Rosalinda Valencia and Omar Ornelas at 11.53 percent and 10.26 percent of the votes, respectively.

In the mayoral race, entrepreneur J. “Chaka” Santos was leading the three-way race at 36.15 percent of the votes with the recently beleaguered Mayor Kristy Sayles pulling in the votes at 33.72 percent, and former council member Steve Dresser rounding out the competition at 29.95 percent.

With only 40 percent of the ballots counted, and even with him showing the lead, Santos was hesitant to comment about the election results.

“All I can say is that you will see the change in the city. It will be a positive change with constructive attitude. We’re going to make this place a safe place to live for families, and we’ll bring jobs to our community,” he said.

“It’s about us, not about me,” he added, echoing his oft-quoted statement in the months leading to Election Day.

Neely, whose name remained on the ballot even after withdrawing from the race, said he was “surprised” at the support he received from the voters and will be weighing his options of whether or not to accept the mandate from the people.

“Because the people have spoken, I’m going to look at options of accepting the position,” he said.

When he withdrew his name from the race, he did not sign any official papers that officially accepted his withdrawal but simply sent press releases to the local paper, he said.

The rookie politician who never ran for any public office before said he threw his hat into the political arena “because I think I have a responsibility to participate in the decisions for the community. I think (the residents) want people on the council who understand what developments and what services are needed in the community.”