Following a deadlocked vote that went late into the night, the Lodi City Council has appointed a new representative to fill the District 4 seat left vacant by former council member Shakir Khan.
Ramon Yepez, who finished second in the 2020 election, was selected late Wednesday to fill the vacant council seat and was sworn in at a special meeting at the LOEL Senior Center.
“It feels great because I can finally be a voice for all those voters that weighed in for that election (in 2020) … they feel that they’ve been heard after a lot of struggle,” Yepez said following a special meeting of the council that lasted more than three hours.
A near-capacity audience applauded and cheered after Yepez was chosen. Many said during the public comment period that Yepez understood the district’s needs and was able to connect with many of the members living in the Eastside district.
Contenders for the position also included Alexander Aliferis, Diego Maldonado, and JoAnne Mounce.
During the meeting, the council interviewed the applicants and asked questions on topics ranging from education to what they felt were the most important issues the city faces.
Before reaching a final decision the council deadlocked on a motion from Lodi Mayor Mikey Hothi to choose Yepez.
Some attendees of the meeting walked out at that point, upset because the council couldn’t come to an agreement, but most stayed to await a decision.
Eventually, Yepez was selected by a 3-1 vote about 10:17 p.m. and was sworn in by the city clerk.
“It feels great because I can finally be a voice for all those voters that weighed in for that election (in 2020) … they feel that they’ve been heard after a lot of struggle.”Ramon Yepez, newly appointed Lodi City Council member
The District 4 seat became available when former council member Khan allegedly resigned from the position in February following accusations of voter fraud.
Khan was arraigned on 14 felony charges in connection with alleged fraud related to the 2020 election.
According to the Lodi City Council’s website, Khan’s resignation was received Feb. 16, but the former councilman’s attorney has disputed the resignation by saying his client had not given up the council seat.
Victoria Franco is a reporter based in Stockton covering San Joaquin County for Bay City News Foundation and its nonprofit news site Local News Matters. She is a Report for America corps member.