LATHROP – Only one of the three incumbents has taken the first step towards securing his seat for the next four years.
And, because of Lathrop’s political shuffling, this could be the first time that Paul Akinjo is elected outright to serve a full-term on the Lathrop City Council.
For the last two years Akinjo has been an appointee serving the remainder of Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal’s council seat that he vacated when elected mayor. The remaining two years were bestowed upon the next leading vote getter – a precedent that was set when Councilman Omar Ornelas was appointed to a full four-year term when now Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely pulled out of the race – and so far this year there’s no indication that another situation like that to arise. One of the other two council members – Steve Dresser or Martha Salcedo – would have to run in order for that to be the case.
But the race for council does have a newcomer. Sort of. Debbie Rock, who ran for council in 2012, has pulled her paperwork from the Lathrop City Clerk and will join Akinjo, Brent Maynor and former councilman Christopher Mateo in what is shaping up to be a tight field.
Mateo opted not to seek reelection in 2012 when he took in former Modesto councilwoman Kristin Olsen in a race for the California assembly. Olsen was the incumbent at the time and is now the face of the Republican Party in Sacramento.
Only Rosalinda Valencia has declared her candidacy and announced her intention to run for mayor. Connie Lum-Perez told The Bulletin that she was running for the Lathrop City Council, but has yet to take out the paperwork.
Both Dhaliwal and Ornelas have just over a week to take out the necessary papers and gather the 20 valid signatures that is required.
Dhaliwal has said that he has yet to make a formal decision on what he’s going to do, but will make an announcement in the next couple of days. Ornelas was absent from the last Lathrop City Council meeting, and could not be reached for comment.