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Sayles seeks 3rd term as Lathrop mayor
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LATHROP – The Lathrop City Council elections ballot on Nov. 2 could be crowded based on the number of would-be candidates to date who have pulled papers at City Hall.

Mayor Kristy Sayles ended speculations earlier this week as to whether she would be seeking a third term by picking up her candidate’s papers at City Hall. The two others seeking to unseat her are familiar names in the local political arena – former councilman Steve Dresser and local businessman J. “Chaka” Santos.

Indicating their intention to run for a council seat are five candidate hopefuls which include incumbent Sonny Dhaliwal whose term is expiring in December. The four others who have picked up candidate’s papers are former Lathrop Youth Focus ambassador Omar Ornelas, Rosalinda Valencia who describes herself as a chocolatier, Lathrop-Manteca Fire District deputy chief Gene Neely, and Brent Maynor who did not supply any background information when he picked up papers at City Hall.

Of the five council hopefuls, only Valencia has qualified so far as a candidate with all the voters’ signatures she submitted certified as valid by the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters, said city clerk Mitzi Ortiz. Of those who pulled papers for mayor, Dresser is so far the only one who has submitted his paperwork although the voters’ signatures are yet to be verified.

Three of the above – Ornelas, Neely and Maynor – are political newcomers who have never thrown their hats in any elected office. Valencia has tested the political waters a few years ago when she ran an unsuccessful bid as a Manteca Unified School District board of trustee. It was the same story for Santos who went after one of the vacant seats on the council in the last elections.

The mayor’s post is a two-year term; Sayle’s tenure is ending in December. There are two vacant council seats. One is the seat being occupied by Dhaliwal whose four-year term is expiring at the end of the year. The other seat was left vacant in March when council member Robert K. Oliver announced his retirement and moved to Southern California. The council had the choice of holding a special election or appointing someone to replace him. However, the remaining council members picked the third option open to them by leaving the position open until the November elections to save money.

The deadend for filing candidates’ papers for this year’s elections is Aug. 6.