LATHROP – Rosalinda Valencia doesn’t think that Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal has been putting his best foot forward when it comes it representing the people of the community.
And she’ll get between now and November to lay out the reasons why feels that way in more detail.
Valencia was the only of the three declared mayoral challengers to Dhaliwal – who announced late last month that he’d seek another term – to submit the necessary paperwork to qualify for the ballot prior to the Oct. 8 cutoff. Omar Khweiss, who pulled papers on July 30, and Balwant Singh Sandhu, who pulled papers on the Thursday before the deadline, missed the submission date. City Clerk Mitzi Ortiz said that there will be no extension in 2014.
That means that a political newcomer that has never held elected office will be the lone challenger to the two-term Lathrop City Councilman who was elected mayor in 2012 when he roundly defeated Joseph “Chaka” Santos in a bitter contest that culminated a tumultuous city hall period that had many in the community divided between the two camps.
And barbs have already been thrown.
Valencia said that she was planning a run for the council but decided that she needed to make a challenge for Dhaliwal’s post after a public campaign finance declaration, she said, gave the city another unnecessary black eye. It was just one more example, said the former military wife, of her city “being made a fool of” and she was tired of that kind of publicity and wanted change.
Dhaliwal said that his record speaks for itself.
Businesses haven’t been coming to Lathrop in droves over the last decade, but they have been coming – including a handful of recent high-profit gets like a Tesla manufacturing facility that will utilize a sprawling auto parts distribution warehouse that has sat vacant for years, a mass-volume fruit hauling company, a national trucking hub and a smattering of small, locally-owned franchises that are reinvigorating the business community.
But the battle, and the ideas, will likely be waged in the trenches for the two council seats that incumbents Omar Ornelas and Paul Akinjo hope will have their names written on them once again. Five other hopefuls, including a past councilman attempting to revive his political career, had their filings in under the gun and are awaiting certification by Ortiz to find out whether they’ve officially qualified for the ballot. Each hopeful needs signatures from at least 20 registered Lathrop voters, and can submit no more than 30 to round out the roster.
Challenging Ornelas and Akinjo will be Brent Maynor, Christopher Mateo, Debra Rock, Connie Lum Perez and Frank Cavaco.