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Sandoval holds onto lead to win election
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It took almost a month for the dust to settle to determine who would end up on the Lathrop City Council.
And now that the San Joaquin Registrar of Voters has released its final vote tallies from the November election, the City of Lathrop will have a fresh new face representing it.
Ruben Sandoval – who worked as a professor at the Lathrop ITT Technical Institute location before it shuttered its doors earlier this year – held on to his narrow lead over Councilman Mark Elliott to claim a four-year term on the council. Elliott, who was appointed earlier this year to serve out the remainder of the first half of former councilman Omar Ornelas’ term when he resigned a year ago, opted not to seek the remainder of the unexpired term and instead ran for a full term – coming in third.
Councilwoman Martha Salcedo secured her third term with the majority of the vote in the five-person field.
While Sandoval has led over Elliott since the night of the election, his narrow lead was never secure with thousands of outstanding San Joaquin County ballots that took roughly a month to tabulate. Once the final votes were tallied, Sandoval held a 164 vote lead over the former Planning Commissioner who voted in his last meeting as a councilman on Monday night.
Political newcomer Steven Macias, who had hoped to unseat two-term Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal, made up some ground during the final count, but still lost more than 1,200 votes – 59.75 percent to 40.09 percent. Macias, who was backed by local business interests who were upset at Dhaliwal’s vote to approve a Pilot/Flying J Truck Stop, was confident that he had the support to send the popular mayor home, but fell behind early on election night and never came close to recovering.
Councilman Steve Dresser – who has more than a decade of experience under his belt on the Lathrop City Council – was guaranteed another two-years after nobody else threw their hat in for the remainder of Ornelas’ unexpired term.
Sandoval is the first new face elected to the council since Akinjo solidified a four-year term in 2014. He finished third in 2012 – behind Salcedo and Dresser – but was tapped to serve the remaining two years on Dhaliwal’s council term when he beat Joseph “Chaka” Santos to serve as the city’s mayor.
The election results will be certified when the council meets again on Dec. 19. The new council members will be sworn in at that time, and new committee positions as well as who will serve as vice mayor will be decided at that time.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.