LATHROP – Politics can get nasty in Lathrop.
They turned downright mean when the council decided to vote then 19-year-old Omar Ornelas to fill the full-term of the position that was vacated when Lathrop-Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely decided too late not to run for council and garnered the most votes on the ballot anyway. Ornelas was appointed after great division on the dais, and the same technique would be used two years later when Paul Akinjo, who had lost his bid, was appointed to fill out the remainder of the term left by Sonny Dhaliwal’s ascension to Mayor.
Now both are facing reelection, and critics have already started lining up to talk about how they’ll finally get a chance to vote for who they want filling the two positions.
Monday marked the first day that council or mayoral hopefuls can take out applications that announce their run for office and that’s exactly what Brent Maynor – a multiple-time candidate for council – did when the filing window opened.
He’ll have to complete the application, gather the appropriate signatures and return it by Aug. 8 with the filing fee to be considered for the ballot. He won’t be the only one throwing his hat in the ring for the two general purpose seats that will be up for grabs.
Dhaliwal, who has become embattled in a campaign finance debacle that stems back to his 2010 run for city council – loans and donations were not properly noted on filing forms and his campaign was fined $21,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said that he won’t let the firestorm weigh in on whether he’ll make another run as mayor. He pointed out all of the good things, business and otherwise, that the city has been able to strive for and succeed during his tenure in city government.
Ornelas was appointed Vice Mayor by his colleagues earlier this year and ran the position in 2010 when he was still attending San Joaquin Delta College. He was also serving as a member of the Youth Advisory Commission and has served a liaison between the council and the youth of the community that have taken on a more proactive role in the programs they’d like to see included as the city moves forward.
Akinjo, who was the next leading vote getter, followed in the precedent that was set when Ornelas was appointed. In that election in 2012 Martha Salcedo secured another four-year term and Steve Dresser returned to the council after time away.