LATHROP – Mayor Kristy Sayles will be the lone representative of Lathrop in the annual One Voice trip to Washington, D.C., sponsored by the San Joaquin Council of Governments.
With the looming $2.5 million budget deficit anticipated in the next five years starting with the current fiscal year, the council last week voted unanimously to send the mayor to the annual lobbying trip given that her trip, which costs approximately $4,000, is being paid for by COG and the Rail Commission.
The council recognized the benefits of sending another person to Washington in April, but they nixed the suggestions made by several residents to send City Manager Cary Keaten along with the mayor.
“If we send anybody, we should send (city manager) Cary (Keaten). He’s a diligent worker,” Councilman Robert Oliver said, praising the top city official when he made the trip last year to D.C.
“He worked long and hard,” said Oliver who added he spoke from first-hand experience as a delegate to this One Voice trip at one time.
“It’s not a vacation, There’s the pressing of the palms” to contend with in addition to the rash of meetings with the powers-that-be at The Hill, he said.
J. Chaka Santos and Planning Commissioner Jose Perez urged the council to send the city manager with the One Voice group.
“He needs to go because he knows what is going on… and because he’s the CEO of the city,” Santos said.
Perez concurred with Santos saying, “If anyone should go, it should be the city manager because he’s got the expertise and knowledge of this city.”
Councilman Dhaliwal said he concurred with Oliver in his assessment of the city manager as a hard worker and that “we need to send someone” to lobby in Washington, D.C. But, he said, “I don’t think we should send anybody else in these economic times.”
As to sending the city manager or a second delegate this year, Dhaliwal said he did not think that was necessary at this time since the two Lathrop projects being pushed for federal funds this year, the Louise Avenue and Lathrop Road interchanges, have been pitched in previous years’ One Voice trips.
Officials in Washington, D.C. “have all the information about both projects. All we need to do is beat the drum,” Dhaliwal explained.
The mayor echoed Oliver’s comments about the city manager being a diligent worker and representative of the city in D.C. The two were the city’s representatives to the One Voice trip last year.
“It’s a very difficult trip. It’s a lot of work,” Sayles said of the weeklong lobbying work.
“I’ll do my best I can with representing the city and COG and the Rail Commission,” she said.
“If times were different, it would be nice to send somebody” with the city carrying the expenses for the trip, Vice Mayor Martha Salcedo said.
“Anyone who wants to go should pay their own way,” she added.
Salcedo cast the lone vote last year against the city spending money to send the mayor and the city manager to the same lobbying trip, citing the city’s money woes.
According to the city manager, the One Voice trip, which promotes regional projects in front of policy makers in Washington, D.C., has resulted in Lathrop receiving $1.7 million federal funds over the past nine years. Those funded projects were:
•Louise Avenue-Interstate 5 interchange improvement project, $750,000;
•Lathrop Road/Interstate 5 improvements, $500,000; and,
•Environmental Protection Agency grant for the city’s drinking Well 10 - $523,800.