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Santos offers business acumen as mayor
J. “Chaka” Santos
LATHROP – Bringing new businesses to Lathrop that create new jobs with head-of-household wages has long been a mantra for J. “Chaka” Santos.

It’s a refrain that he has been singing for the last few years every time he attends a City Council meeting. Now, he wants to do just that from the platform of an elected official, which is why he is throwing his hat into the mayoral election in November in his bid to oust incumbent mayor Kristy Sayles from winning a third term. Sayles is running for re-election in November for another two years as the city’s top elected official.

Santos said he will use his expertise as a longtime businessman who knows “how to make money” to help the city gain a successful economic footing and get rid of the high unemployment rate. One of the things he is suggesting to achieve this goal is for Lathrop to have an “economic development strategic plan for Lathrop in general,” one that will “allow the city to reach its full potential before it reaches a maximum build-out of 70,000 people in 2030,” he said.

To get the city back on its fiscal feet, the former U.S. Marine is also suggesting the following: perform a comprehensive audit to determine the fiscal health of Lathrop and to make the “necessary adjustments if (the) fiscal health is poor,” do “more with less city revenues,” create revenue reserves “in lieu of spending them,” and evaluate the “overall organizational structure (at City Hall) for effectiveness and productivity.”

Santos’ voice was also part of the chorus that made constant noise at city council meetings when the Matt Browne wrongful-termination case hearing was dragging its feet while the expenses piled up at City Hall. His message was for the city to cut the losses and do what wss right for Browne.

In retrospect, said Santos, the city should learn from the Browne fiasco cost of more than a million dollars from the city coffers.

“Policies that will promote transparency in government should be created,” he said. “The Matt Browne fiasco was the result of city government not wanting the community to be aware of information that reflects the truth. Since Matt Browne was absolved by a judge in a court of law, it is clear that suppressing the truth is not a crime and employees should never have pressure placed on them if they support the truth.”

The Matt Browne hearing was actually held before a California administrative judge. Part of the reason for the long drawn-out process was due to the fact the presiding judge was changed twice for various reasons including conflict of interest.

As for the qualities that a mayor should have, Santos said, “A mayor should be sincere, honest, and compassionate about the healthy development of the city and the quality of life of all community members. A mayor should provide inspirational leadership and be the (leader) in terms of providing direction that will foster solid growth and financial stability. In addition, a mayor should be a devout community member that places the best interests of the community and its members first above anything else. Finally, a mayor needs to be effective in terms of promoting the city at various levels of government – that is, county, state and federal.”

Santos said he is all for transparency in government which, to him, means “that nothing is hidden from the public.

“In other words, community members are aware of everything that takes place involving the decision-making and activities of all elected officials. However, there are some areas like personnel files that would be considered confidential and can’t be scrutinized making them exempt from any transparency.”

For those who are aware of the businessman’s penchant for casual dressing – read, shorts with flip-flops or sandals – Santos said that if elected he will continue to wear shorts to council meetings. At Tuesday night’s candidates’ forum, he showed a sample of the outfit he is talking about – a pair of ironed shorts with a short-sleeved shirt and tie, and with a pair of sandals to match.