(KTXL) — After hours of interviews and back-and-fourth deliberations, the Lodi City Council has its newest member.
During a special session Wednesday night, the city council appointed Ramon Yepez to the vacant District 4 seat that was previously held by Shakir Khan. The city council interviewed a total of four candidates at the special meeting.
Yepez was sworn in Wednesday night following a 3-1 vote to appoint him to the seat, becoming the first Latino member of the city council in the city’s 117-year history.
City councilmember Alan Nakanishi was the only one who opposed.
The other candidates were Alexander Aliferis, Diego Maldonado, and former Lodi City Council member and mayor Joanne Mounce, who received support Wednesday night.
After a motion to appoint Yepez gridlocked with a 2-2 vote, council member Cameron Bregman flipped his vote to make Yepez the next District 4 representative. Yepez lost to Khan in the 2020 election.
“I believe that you can arrive at a most-effective solution and just cooperating with people and asking questions,” Yepez said. “I think my strongest skill is to research and listen.”
The District 4 seat became vacant following the February arrest of Khan, who is facing charges related to election fraud during the 2020 election.
Hours after Khan’s arrest, Lodi Mayor Mikey Hothi visited him in jail and announced he obtained his resignation during that meeting. Khan and his lawyer Allen Sawyer have denied the resignation was valid, claiming he was coerced into leaving his seat.
On March 7, the city council voted to fill the District 4 seat by appointing someone for the remainder of the term through 2024.
Khan is suing the city of Lodi, Hothi and other council members claiming there was “unlawful conduct” in removing him from his role as a member of the city council.
Prior to Wednesday’s session, a federal judge denied Khan’s request for a restraining order to stop the city council from appointing someone to the seat.