When it came to qualifications for the Lathrop City Council, Jennifer Torres-O’Callaghan had them in spades in 2018 when she ran for the remainder of an unexpired term.
Prior to throwing her hat into the ring for the city’s governing body, Torres-O’Callaghan was a founding member of the city’s Measure C Oversight Committee and had served on both the Lathrop Planning Commission and the Lathrop Parks and Recreation Commission – giving her knowledge about the city’s inner-workings that aided her first term helping to steer the city towards success.
And now Torres-O’Callaghan is hoping that her work will speak for itself when voters fill out their ballots and submit them by Nov. 3 – this time vying for a full four-year term on the council to continue the work that she and her fellow councilmembers have already started.
“I would say that the thing that I’m most proud of is the lighted crosswalk at Lathrop High School – I brought the referral to the council and we had public input and voted to install that,” she said. “Our kids are walking long distances to school and when it’s foggy and dark when they leave in the morning – when we’re in session – it was apparent that something needed to happen.
“We had several near-misses and a couple of bikes that were tapped by people that were in a hurry and fortunately there were no major injuries and I’m proud to have that lighted crosswalk to protect our young people as they go to school.”
During her two years on the council, Torres-O’Callaghan also played a role in helping shape the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the council’s role in steering the city towards safety while at the same time protecting the independent small businesses that were hampered by shutdown orders that took away their livelihood.
Torres-O’Callaghan said that she was vocal about allowing small businesses to reopen outdoors so that they could serve customers and generate some revenue after the State of California mandated that they close their doors. She worked hand-in-hand with the rest of the council to create a grant program for both small businesses and families that were being financially impacted by the efforts undertaken in the name of public health.
Letting the small businesses that make up the fabric of a community wither on the vine, she said, wasn’t something that she wanted to do – especially since in a small community like Lathrop every business is important to those that call the city home.
“When everything was shut down the second time I wanted to allow our businesses and restaurants to put tables and umbrellas outside in the parking stalls and continue operating – the virus hit the small businesses hard and I wanted to make sure that they had a fighting chance of getting through this,” she said. “Even if it’s just a lunch crowd, it gave them an option to have some foot traffic and that makes a difference to each of those businesses.”
If reelected by voters, Torres-O’Callaghan says her main focus will be in helping steer the city through the uncertain future that COVID-19 has created – from businesses on the verge of shutting their doors to reductions in sales tax and revenue, it’ll be an all-hands-on-deck scenario that will be her primary focus moving forward.
“I would say for me personally my goal is to get Lathrop – our business, our families, and our schools – through corona and to the other side of recovery,” she said. “Right now Lathrop is doing really well, but gas taxes have come down because nobody is driving and restaurant and retail are both down because of the virus and there are other factors that we don’t know yet – it’s possible that property taxes will be a hit for all of the cities across the state and possibly the country.
“I’m feeling like we’re in a good place but it’s going to take work to keep us there, and my goal is to make sure that everybody is back online working together as a team for the betterment of the city.”
To date Torres-O’Callaghan has received endorsements from three previous Lathrop mayors – Gloryanna Rhodes, Bennie Gatto, and Sonny Dhaliwal – as well as all five members of the Lathrop planning commission, councilmember Diane Lazard, and Vice Mayor Martha Salcedo. She has also been endorsed by current Lathrop Manteca fire board chair Mark Elliott, Manteca Unified trustee Kathy Howe, the Lathrop Manteca Firefighters Association, the San Joaquin-Calaveras Labor Council AFL-CIO, and the North Valley Labor Federation AFL-CIO. She lives in Lathrop with her husband John and their 10 children.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.