One way or another, Lathrop will have a new mayor in 2024.
But if current mayor Sonny Dhaliwal – the longest-serving in the city’s history, who is beginning his sixth consecutive two-year stint with the gavel – has his druthers, it’ll be with him preparing to be sworn in as one of San Joaquin County’s newest supervisors.
Dhaliwal, who has been serving Lathrop in an elected capacity for nearly 20 years, has made the decision to run for the seat that will be vacated when current supervisor Tom Patti terms out at the end of next year.
Supervisors can only serve for two consecutive terms. As a result, Tom Patti will be termed out in 2024.
Former Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum has indicated that he is weighing a run for the District 3 seat as well
Manteca is the biggest concentration of voters in the district by far with Lathrop the next highest concertation. A small part of northwest Stockton is in the district as well as the Delta region.
While he doesn’t know what the future will hold, Dhaliwal said that he’s ready to step aside and let somebody take the reins of a city he helped usher through the crush of the 2008 housing crisis and transform it into one of the fastest growing cities in the State of California.
“Yes, this would mean it is my last term serving on the Lathrop City Council, but it does not mean that I will stop serving the residents of Lathrop,” Dhaliwal said. “If I were to win, this would mean that I not only get the opportunity to continue serving my fellow Lathrop citizens, but I would also get to serve the residents of Manteca and part of Stockton.
“I am so proud to have been a part of this, and past councils, where we have accomplished so much.”
Lathrop is currently ranked 13th in the state for financial stability – they were facing budget shortfalls of as much as $16 million when Dhaliwal first joined the council – and is currently ranked the second fastest growing city in Northern California.
Dhaliwal was first appointed to the council in early 2006 after finishing second in a special election in late 2005 for the remainder of an unexpired term. He ran again and won a full term in the general election later that year and was reelected in 2010 but served for only two years before being elected mayor in 2012.
He has served in the position ever since.
Including his tenure as a member of the city’s planning commission, Dhaliwal’s service to Lathrop extends beyond two decades – something that he believes will be of great help as he prepares to lend his experience to the body tasked with managing San Joaquin County as a whole.
“I started my local journey in public service as a Planning Commissioner, before serving as a Councilmember, and then mayor. Throughout all this service, I have had the opportunity to learn from the ground up how local government works, how issues are brought up and tackled,” Dhaliwal said. “There are so many different departments and agencies that work cohesively to address issues and knowing how to navigate all of them is key to solving problems. I have worked very hard to be accessible to the citizens I serve and ensure that I am available to them – I would move forward in representing District 3 with the same passion for public service I have exercised in the last 20 years.”
And his experience on the council may have prepared him well to make the jump to the next rung of the local government ladder.
Dhaliwal’s tenure with Lathrop has included stints on the Local Agency Formation Commission – which, among other things, deals with annexations in the county – as well as the Board of Directors for the San Joaquin Council of Governments and the San Joaquin County Water Advisory Commission.
He said that he believes that attracting head-of-household jobs to San Joaquin County will be among his top priorities if elected and noted that future growth will require attentiveness to ensure that crimes rates can remain low and prevent the proliferation of homelessness.
And while his focus may change if elected to the Board of Supervisors, Dhaliwal said that his dedication towards public service will not.
“I truly believe that public service is the rent we pay for the space we occupy,” Dhaliwal said. “My roles in public service gave me an opportunity to connect with the residents in Lathrop and contribute toward an improvement in their quality of life.
“I hope that I get an opportunity to serve our residents as their county supervisor.”
Dhaliwal lives in Lathrop with his wife, Ruby. The couple have four children – both daughters are currently married while both sons are currently in college.
To contact Bulletin reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.