After a three hour special meeting, the Lodi City Council appointed Ramon Yepez as the new Lodi City Council Member of District 4.
The Lodi City Council met at the LOEL Senior Center at 7:00pm for a special meeting to appoint a new member to the City Council. Numerous questions were asked of the four candidates for the first hour and a half. Alexander Aliferis, Diego Maldonado, JoAnne L Mounce, and Ramon Yepez answered all questions with the hopes of serving their community.
The number one issue they all agreed on was dealing with the high rates of crime in District 4. They had different ideas on how to accomplish this, but crime was definitely their number one focus.
After the questioning was public comment. The majority of commenters supported Ramon Yepez for District 4, primarily because he ran in 2020 and got second place to Shakir Khan. Former Mayor Doug Kuehne even stopped by to provide a comment, and it was one to remember:
“I’ve served on the City Council for eight years, six of those were with Council Member Mounce. You’d think that I’d be a proponent of Council Member Mounce, but let me tell you a little bit about her. There’s a program called ABCD, Asset Based Community Development. Two Council Members attended that training, it was [inaudible] training. Council Member Mounce was not there. It focused on the Heritage District. She didn’t participate in that at all. Another thing about Council Member Mounce. When we voted for phase 8, the water meter program. Replacing the oldest pipe in our city, in the Heritage District, and we repaved some of those well needed repaved alley ways, she voted against it. So, she might live in that district, but she has done that district no favors. From my perspective, there’s a decorum we have on the Council, and that decorum needs to be followed. It’s a code of conduct. And when you, as Council Member Nak[anishi] said to me and the Mayor at the time [Mark Chandler], cussed us out at the dias, you don’t follow that code of conduct very well. So, I think, in my opinion, my humble opinion as it may be, the second highest vote getter, Ramon Yepez, should have this seat. Thank you.”Former Mayor Doug Kuehne
At the conclusion of the public comments, the City Council was unsure if they should wait until the next meeting to make a decision. Mayor Hothi reminded the Council that if they were to wait until the next meeting, then all public comments could be made again. The crowd fired back asking them to choose now. They chose to have a five minute recess before returning for a vote.
Mayor Pro Tempore Craig made a motion to appoint Ramon Yepez, and Mayor Hothi seconded the motion. Council Member Bregman voted no mostly because he didn’t want to make a decision at that time, and Council Member Nakanishi voted no because he supported JoAnne Mounce.
With the vote tied two to two, the Council decided to ask further questions of candidates Ramon Yepez and JoAnne Mounce, followed by additional public comment. The other two candidates were effectively eliminated from the discussion.
Approximately forty-five minutes later, the council voted 3-1 in favor of appointing Ramon Yepez to the Lodi City Council — with Council Member Nakanishi voting no.