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Akinjo apologizes for his failing to convey respect

Lathrop City Councilman Paul Akinjo – who hopes to succeed outgoing Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal when he concludes his record sixth term at the helm of the city – has issued an apology for comments he made last week that some in the community felt were insensitive.

At the conclusion of the council’s January business meeting, Akinjo incensed some in the community – and one of his colleagues – when he spoke somewhat dismissively of the work that Christina Laughlin, who had recently passed away quite unexpectedly after friends announced health issues last month.

Shortly after Vice Mayor Minnie Diallo called on her colleagues to approve the installation of a bench and a tree honoring Laughlin’s community service at the park near her Mossdale home, Akinjo said that her exemplary citizenship was “debatable” – prompting Diallo to get up from the dais and walk out the meeting which concluded shortly thereafter.

In a letter written Thursday, Akinjo took responsibility for the words and any pain he may have caused as a result of them.

“In trying to speak about Christina, I failed to appropriately acknowledge her significant role in our community,” Akinjo said in his apology letter. “Christina was not just a community member; she was a vigilant watchdog and a critical voice, always ensuring that we, as a council, remained accountable and transparent.

“Her unique presence and persistent efforts to challenge us were invaluable, and I regret not having conveyed the respect and acknowledgement she deserved.”

Laughlin, who ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2022 and was vocal about finding people in the community to run for positions in the upcoming election, reportedly fell ill at the end of December and was ultimately diagnosed with cancer. She passed away just hours before the meeting began last week.

In addition to her political activism, Laughlin contributed to a number of local organizations and efforts to help improve the community where she raised her family.

Akinjo’s comments sparked outrage on social media with many in the community calling for accountability – sparking Akinjo’s response and pledge to do better in the future.

“I apologize deeply for the pain and anger my words have caused Christina’s family, friends, and all those who admired her for the role she played in our community,” Akinjo said. “It was a mistake, born out of a moment’s insensitivity, for which I am truly sorry.

“Going forward, I pledge to honor Christina’s memory by striving to be more empathetic and considerate in my service to the community.”

To contact Bulletin reporter Jason Campbell email