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New face joins Lathrop council
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Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal is sworn in by his son Sonny Junior to mark the beginning of his third term at the helm of Lathrops city council. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin

Ruben Sandoval doesn’t have much experience in politics or local government.
But the new Lathrop City Councilman – who was sworn in on Monday night – has one thing in abundance.
The former ITT Technical Institute instructor earned his bachelors degree in computer science, a masters degree in business, a master’s degree in human resources and a doctorate in organizational leadership – making him the most educated person on the current Lathrop City Council and possibly the most educated to ever hold elected office in the city.
Sandoval, who taught classes in computer science, networking, project management and cyber security, earned 1,964 votes to secure the second of two seats up for grabs. Councilwoman Martha Salcedo, who shored up 3,110 of the 6,635 votes cast, was the leading vote getter.
While he said that the new position will require a period of adjustment, Sandoval didn’t mince words when discussing what the City of Lathrop and its elected officials are doing well, and what they can work on for the betterment of the community at large.
“I want to be a representative of the people’s interest and do what I think will help move the city forward,” Sandoval said. “You have to have your feet on the ground to reach for the stars.
“I think that the city has some great employees and a great staff and a council that is hard-working which I would say is our greatest asset, but we also need to work our marketing to attract high-paying jobs to the community for our residents.”
Sandoval edged out Mark Elliott – who was appointed in February to serve out the remainder of the first-half of the term that was vacated by Omar Ornelas when he resigned in January – by a slim margin on election night and increased that margin slightly during each of the subsequent vote releases from the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters.
A tearful Elliott – who like Sandoval is a lifelong Lathrop resident – thanked each of the city staff members he has gotten to know since assuming the position in February, and offered a special thank you to his family for supporting him in this venture. The remaining two years on the seat that Elliott was serving – he opted to run for a full four-year term – will be served by Councilman Steve Dresser, who received more than 97 percent of the votes cast in his unopposed race.
Sandoval and Martha Salcedo were each sworn in to their four-year terms on Monday evening, and both Dresser and Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal will serve for the next two years, respectively.
Dhaliwal, who beat out a political upstart backed by local special-interests over a dispute on allowing competition to come into the community, has his son Junior swear him in symbolically after City Clerk Teresa Vargas executed the oath of office prior to the start of the meeting.
Councilman Paul Akinjo, who was appointed to serve the remainder of Dhaliwal’s council term when he was elected to the mayor’s post four years ago, and is halfway through the full-term that he was elected to in 2014, was picked to replace Dresser as the city’s Vice Mayor – assuming the duties of Dhaliwal in the event that he’s absent from a meeting.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.