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Lathrop hopefuls talk about truck stop
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Lathrop voters on Nov. 8 will elect three City Council members.

Because of former Councilman Omar Ornelas’ resignation at the end of last year – only one year into his four-year term – one seat will cover the remaining four years of that term while the other two are for full four-year terms.

And while all of the incumbents are technically running again, since the two years remaining on Ornelas’ term has included in this cycle (Lathrop typically has two of the four council seats up every two years along with the mayor’s seat) and one of the incumbents was the only one to file for that particular slot, that leaves five other people vying for the remaining two seats. 

The Bulletin sent out a questionnaire to all candidates who are seeking election to the council, and the following are the replies from those who submitted the questions by the cutoff:

How would you work to expand recreational offerings as more and more families move into Lathrop and take advantage of municipal services like Parks and Recreation programs?


Mark Elliott: “Our Recreation department has really grown since the approval of Measure C.  We have a great director and recreation team that is being built.  One of our recreation department’s goals is to expand our recreation offerings and I would support that plan.  For years Lathrop has relied on independent contractors to provide our recreation activities.  Our staff can now provide that leadership with close supervision from our Park and Recreation department head and supervisors.”


Minnie Lee Jordan-Diallo: “This is one of the many reasons I decided to run. I’m passionate about the youth of today and I’m currently a leader within our community. I believe that when there are things like after-school programs, sports leagues, jobs and other activities for the youth, they will be less likely to get into things that aren’t so good. Once elected I plan to work hand in hand with our Parks and Recreation to create events that will get our youth involved in our city. I would to see something like a Basketball/Baseball Tournament between our Police and Fire departments and our youth to bring the community closer together. They are the future of our great city.”


Steve Dresser: “One of my top priorities would be to work with MUSD to get the high school swimming pool open for public use. Additionally, I’d like to create a fund specifically for setting aside monies to build a community pool and develop youth and adult water programs. I would continue to support and encourage our parks and recreation staff to bring new activities that have proven to be successful in other communities. This past year they modified the city’s July 1st birthday party event, which was well received by our citizens. They established the Rain Gutter Regatta and movies in the park, which brought many neighbors out of their homes and into the park. They are looking at creating concerts in the park next year to further community involvement.”


Would you be in favor of supporting a Highway Service Zone along I-5 similar to what Ripon did with the Jack Tone Interchange area, which provides the lion’s share of the city’s sales tax revenue? What are your feelings on the recently approved Pilot/Flying J Truck Stop?


Mark Elliott: “Yes, I would be in support of a Highway Service Zone along I-5.  This zone could benefit I-5 travelers and the citizens of Lathrop.

I am in favor of Pilot/Flying J Truck stop.  Due to Lathrop’s location, we have several truck businesses and independent contractors and these trucks need a place to park, otherwise they park in our neighborhoods and industrial areas.  Pilot/Flying J will provide this needed service that would allow trucks to get off our city streets.  Travelers also need a place to rest and fuel up, and this would bring in more revenue for the city and solve some of our challenges.  Overall, the trucking industry is not going to leave Lathrop, it is probably going to expand.  We need Pilot/Flying J to meet this expansion.”


Minnie Lee Jordan-Diallo: “I don’t believe the city needs a highway service area at this time. But I am excited about the Flying J business moving into our city though. With the revenue of $2 million a year imagine the projects we could start for our youth and other residents. “


Steve Dresser: “There are challenges that come with hotels/motels as well as truck stops. We went through this with the truck stop expansion and a new hotel in the past. These same concerns were raised but were not realized. I believe that we can work with police and ownership to remove any issues that arise. Pilot was coming. The only question was who would have jurisdiction – the county or the city. Sales tax revenues are expected to be close to a million dollars. If we will be involved in handling problems, whether in the county or city, then we should benefit from the tax revenue to offset the cost of services.”


There has been talk of Lathrop either using municipal bonds or even some Measure C money to establish its own police department at the end of the current contract with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department. How would you proceed when making a decision on how to best protect the residents of the community moving forward?


Mark Elliott: “For a city to take on its own Police Department comes tremendous liability.  I do not think Lathrop is big enough or has enough tax base to support its own Police Department.  Lathrop needs to negotiate a fair contract for police services when the time comes.  Overall, I believe the SJCO Sheriff Department has provided great Police service, staff, and has responded to the cities need in the area of Law Enforcement.”  


Minnie Lee Jordan-Diallo: “I would base my decision on what our Great Chief Hood and his department think on the subject. I would also see if there would be a huge financial responsibility on the city that might end up being placed on our residents.”


Steve Dresser: “It’s my opinion that now is not the time to establish our own police department. We could not duplicate the service that we get from the county sheriff’s office for the same cost. As we add new homes and businesses we will be in a position to re-look and perhaps establish our own department. Measure C has provided us with a tool to ensure that the level of public safety is one of the highest in the county. We have added four deputies in the recent past and are on schedule to add an additional deputy next year. Our police chief and his administrative staff are constantly analyzing data associated with criminal activities to optimize the use of our deputies.  We have investigated the use of specific technologies to increase the effectiveness of our force while maintaining current levels.”


Why are you running for Lathrop City Council?


Mark Elliott: “I am running for City Council because I believe I can help our current council provide the vision and leadership to our city staff.  I have been on the City Council since February 2016, I have learned a lot and there is so much more that I need to learn.  My experience as a Park and Recreation Commissioner and a Planning Commissioner for the past 6 years has really helped be in being on the City Council.  In closing I want to run for City Council in order to give back to my community and continue to make Lathrop a better place to live and work.”


Minnie Lee Jordan-Diallo: “I decided to run for Council when I noticed our youth had a role model missing. I plan on giving them and all people in Lathrop my voice to use. I’ve seen our current Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal doing such a good job that it encouraged me to join in. I want to bring jobs for the youth and bring businesses that cater to family activities. Being a youth leader this has always been my passion. Please find me on Facebook and let me hear any concern or question you may have.  I always make myself available to the People I plan to serve. Vote Minnie Jordan-Diallo!”


Steve Dresser: “The primary reason for running is to maintain continuity and momentum. Our council has been effective in working together to secure the safety, financial viability and sustained growth of our community and I would like that to continue. Secondly, SB5 needs to be reconciled and it will be difficult for a new member to get up to speed and work though issues, let alone learn the inner workings of City Hall. Lastly, I participate in multiple community activities and organizations which benefit our citizens. So when someone speaks of open communications I’m in the community and available.”

NOTE: Ruben Sandoval, Martha Salcedo and Brent Maynor – who are all running for the two available full-term seats, did not return the questionnaire. 


To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.