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Race for 3rd seat on Lathrop City Council tightens
Election Logo 2018.jpg

Two people have pulled away from the pack in the bid for two available seats on the Lathrop City Council. 

But the third seat – the remainder of an unexpired term – is still a long way from being decided. 

After the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters released another update to the ballot totals on Tuesday evening, the race between incumbent Steve Dresser and challenger Jennifer Torres-O’Callaghan narrowed even more – with Torres-O’Callaghan now within 50 votes of Dresser. In initial returns there was a 125 vote margin separating the two, but the counting of vote-by-mail and absentee ballots has continued for the last week and changed the early outcomes in a number of races. 

Both are vying for the remainder of the term that was vacated with the tragic death of Councilman Ruben Salcedo, who passed away just days after being sworn in to his new position following the 2014 election. Salcedo ousted appointed incumbent Mark Elliot in that race, and Elliot was eventually appointed by the council to fill the remainder of the first half of the term and opted not to run for the remaining two years – deciding instead to throw his hat in the ring for the Lathrop Manteca Fire District Board of Directors. 

Facing no challengers after submitting his nomination paperwork, Elliot was appointed to the position without having to appear on last week’s ballot. 

In the race for the two full available terms, Incumbent Paul Akinjo – who trailed early on election night, but never fell out of second place – has surged ahead of the rest of the pack with 1,646 votes, or 31.68 percent of the total votes cast. Diane Lazard, who was initially leading Akinjo, is in second place with 1,532 votes or 29.49 percent of the vote while Minnie “Cotton” Diallo is just over 200 votes behind with 25.54 percent of the vote. 

Debbie Rock is currently in fourth place with 690 votes, or 13.28 percent of the vote. 

In just over 24 hours the registrar’s office counted an additional 20,000 of the backlogged ballots – upping the count from 112,149 on Monday to 132,204 by 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The inclusion of those ballots represented more than 20 percent of the more than 96,000 ballots that were not included in the election night totals – both vote-by-mail and provisional ballots. 

Counting is expected to continue over the course of the next two weeks as the registrar’s office and its volunteers ensure that every qualifying vote is counted. 

The certification of the election results is expected to take place early next month, although it could happen sooner if all of the votes are counted ahead of the preliminary schedule that was released last Thursday. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.