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Dhaliwal going for 5th term as Lathrop mayor

 Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal is pushing forward to try and secure a decade at the helm of a city that has positioned itself as a destination for residential and economic growth in the South County.

Dhaliwal, who was first elected as Lathrop’s Mayor in a contentious 2012 race and served on the council for six years before that, has signaled that he will again try and defend the seat – which, if successful, would be the fifth time that he done so.

With eight years holding the reins of the city – which elects a mayor every two years – to his credit, Dhaliwal is already the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history.

City council and mayoral hopefuls will get the chance to pull their nomination paperwork on Monday, July 13, and will have three weeks to return it to city clerk Teresa Vargas. The deadline to submit completed nomination forms with the requisite signatures in Aug. 7 at 5 p.m.

Martha Salcedo, a Manteca Unified teacher that was appointed to the council in 2006, could inch closer to serving the city for two decades if she chooses to run again for another four-year term. Jennifer Torres-O’Callaghan was elected to a two-year unexpired term in 2018 and will be up for reelection again this year.

Because of Lathrop’s decision to have the mayor serve a term of only two-years, the majority of the council is elected just as often and in past years with resignations that occurred not long after elections were certified, as many as four seats have been up for grabs at once.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, every registered California voter will be mailed a ballot this year for the Nov. 3 election that they can then take to a specific drop-off location to be collected and tabulated. That means voters will not be going to the polls in California this year.

According to Vargas, the city was an authorized collection point for absentee ballots in 2018 and is currently requesting permission from the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters to be a voter service center in the lead-up to the election – meaning that in the four-days prior to the election, those needing a new ballot, needing to register to vote, or needing to make changes to their registration can do so.

California is one of only 21 states plus the District of Columbia that allows for voter registration – known officially as conditional registration – to take place on the actual day of the election to provide a safety net to voters who missed the traditional cut-off date to participate in the election.

While the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the city’s financial future is not yet fully known, the current Lathrop City Council has presided over a period of economic and political calm for the majority of the last decade. While city council meetings were once ground zero for infighting and even altercations – the height of which came in a scathing Grand Jury report issued while Joseph “Chaka” Santos was the mayor – the city has since grown to nearly 25,000 residents anchored by large residential developments and a business-friendly approach that helped secure the likes of Tesla, Kraft Heinz, and speculative industrial developers that appreciate the city’s location and access to the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and the rest of California’s transportation network.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.