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5 take out papers to run for 3 seats on Lathrop council
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So far five people have taken out the necessary paperwork to run for the three available Lathrop City Council seats that are up for grabs in November.

Incumbent Paul Akinjo will officially make a bid for another full four-year term on the council – one of two four-year terms that are up this cycle – while councilman Stephen Dresser will once again run for the unexpired two-year term that became available when Councilman Ruben Sandoval passed away the day after he was sworn into office in 2016. Councilman Mark Elliott, who was defeated in the 2016 election but was appointed to fill the first half of Sandoval’s term, has not yet pulled the necessary papers to seek another term, and will have until August 10 at 5 p.m. to meet the nomination deadline.

According to Lathrop City Clerk Teresa Vargas, Akinjo received his nomination paperwork two days after the window opened on July 16, and returned the completed forms a week later on July 25. He officially qualified the following day.

Also qualifying to run for one of the two full-terms that will be available was Minnie “Cotton” Diallo – the granddaughter of Revered Maurice Cotton – who received her nomination paperwork on July 17 and returned it on July 19, qualifying officially on July 24. Cotton, who has been an active part of the church that her grandfather started in Lathrop decades ago and has become a spokesperson for that congregation and its stance on the Lathrop Road Widening project, came in fourth in 2016 in the race for one of two available full-term seats with 15.46 percent of the vote.

Diane Lazard, a Lathrop Planning Commissioner, was issued nomination paperwork for a full term on July 19 but so far has not returned them for the certification process to be completed.

And after running unopposed for the remainder of the unexpired term created when former councilman Omar Ornelas resigned less than a year into his term, Councilman Steve Dresser will face some competition in his pursuit for the final two-years of Sandoval’s vacant seat. Both Dresser and Jennifer Torres-O’Callaghan were issued nomination paperwork on July 17th, returning the packets on July 23. They were both certified to appear on the ballot the following day.

The November election will mark the third time in the last four elections that an unexpired term will come into play in addition to the two full-term Lathrop City Council seats that are available every two years. In 2012 it was Akinjo who was appointed to fill the remainder of Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal’s unexpired term when he unseated Joseph “Chaka” Santos for the city’s top seat, and while Akinjo was elected to a full term in 2014, it was the unexpected departure of fellow councilman Ornelas the following year that led to Elliot’s appointment and created the unexpired term that Dresser won unopposed in 2016.

When coupled with Lathrop’s mayoral seat, which is up for election every two years, it will also mark the second consecutive Lathrop election when at least four-fifths of the board is up for grabs.

Dhaliwal, who is currently mulling whether he should seek another term after three consecutive terms as Lathrop’s mayor, has received his nomination paperwork but has not yet returned it. Earlier this month he posted an unofficial poll on Facebook asking his constituents if they wanted to see him return for another two-year stint – announcing that he had already spoken to the rest of the council and had their blessing and support – and received nearly universal support from those who responded.

The nomination period will officially close on Friday, Aug. 10, at 5 p.m. If Dhaliwal chooses not to run, that deadline will be extended until Aug. 15, at 5 p.m. for nominations other than the incumbent.

For additional information about the election, visit the City of Lathrop’s website at

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.