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In the race for Lodi City Council in 2010, Alan Nakanishi dominated in every precinct

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Alan Nakanishi

Alan Nakanishi, Lodi City Council member

“Many who run for city council don’t have medical insurance, so this helps them. If you want to save money, get old guys.”

Alan Nakanishi, Lodi City Council member

“For new council members, it’s good for them. It’s good for them to learn. So I can understand why they are important.”

Posted: Saturday, January 15, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:27 am, Tue Mar 4, 2014.

Alan Nakanishi didn't just win the Lodi City Council race in November. He was the top vote-getter from the north to the south to the east to the west in Lodi. The doctor and former assemblyman won every single precinct in Lodi. His lowest precinct percentage was 20.2 percent while his highest was 24.9 percent.

"Alan dominated this election. It's just huge compared to everyone else," said council challenger John Johnson.

In recent days, the News-Sentinel has tallied and reviewed precinct-by-precinct results from November's council race. The overall theme: Nakanishi enjoyed strikingly broad support. Even so, he and others agree that his dominant win does not grant him any special sway on the council.

Nakanishi raised at least $50,000 for his campaign and said he spent a lot of time talking with voters.

"Remember when I was running, I said you walk precincts, you hold coffees. I really worked hard. ... You always have to run like you are going to lose," Nakanishi said.

Nakanishi received 9,730 votes citywide, or 22.9 percent, in a race with seven candidates. The next highest percentage was incumbent Phil Katzakian, with 15.6 percent, or 6,621 votes.

Observers of the council race say name recognition and a large amount of money was the key to winning November's election.

Candidate Jay Patel, who received 10.7 percent of the votes, said Nakanishi had a great advantage because of his following in Lodi.

"I don't know if Alan did anything right or wrong. His name is what got him in there. It's more of a beauty pageant in Lodi," Patel said.

While Nakanishi said many people in the community know him, name recognition fades fast, so he still had to go out and talk with voters.

Money also played a significant role in the race. In addition to walking precincts, Nakanishi spent money on robocalling, fliers and advertising.

Don Parsons, owner of Stockton-based Strategic Research, worked on Phil Katzakian's campaign, and said money definitely matters. Over the years, Parsons estimates that Nakanishi has spent millions running for local and state office.

"He's represented the area for about 16 years, so he's pretty much a household name," Parsons said.

Nakanishi wasn't the only one to get a boost from money. Incumbents Katzakian and Larry Hansen raised the secondand third-highest amounts of money and retained their seats.

"There's a direct correlation between the amount of money you have and the results. And I think name recognition played a big part in (Nakanishi) winning every precinct," said Johnson, who came in a close fourth with 14.7 percent of the vote.

Voters also want to know that candidates will do a good job, said Steve Ding, former staff director of the U.S. House Resources Committee under chairman Richard Pombo. Ding now owns Woodbridge Crossing, and said Nakanishi has always represented Lodi well.

"Voters really want to know who you are, not just your name. They want to know what you look like and something about you," Ding said.

Nakanishi received the most votes in precinct 29, which is south of Kettleman and east of Harney Lane. Mark Lucas lives on Audubon Drive, and said he and many of his neighbors supported Nakanishi.

Lucas has lived in Lodi for 27 years, and appreciates that it still has a small-town feel, unlike Stockton, where he grew up. When Nakanishi was previously on the council, Lucas said he appreciated his stance on growth.

"I'm mostly backing slow-growth. We need to take it easy and grow just a little," Lucas said.

Parsons agreed, saying that especially in Lodi, people pay attention to a politician's message. Nakanishi said his main priority is to create a fiscally sound budget and not cut staff or benefits.

"You also have to have something to say. Issues matter. You can't just go up there and put up a bunch of signs and expect people to vote for you," Parsons said.

But based on the results, at least one candidate feels like people were not listening to the candidates. Patel said he has talked to people since the election, and all they can say is that they voted for Nakanishi, but cannot list any of his views. He felt Nakanishi did not have much to say during the race.

"We tried to do as much as we could with limited resources, and hopefully, next time around, people will look at point of views and positions," Patel said.

'It's one man and one vote'

Even though Nakanishi received the highest number of votes, current council members said that will not affect Nakanishi's position or influence on the council.

Mayor Bob Johnson said that once people are elected, it does not matter how they did in the election.

"Once you get up there, it's one man and one vote, and it takes three votes to get something done," Johnson said.

In 2008, JoAnne Mounce won with 38.75 percent, or 12,953 votes, but she said that has no bearing.

"The council members don't treat me any differently. They don't put any merit on that. ... Your vote counts the same on council. Your constituents might recognize it, but the council members don't," she said.

In some cities, Parsons said the winner of the election will automatically become pro tem, which is second in line to the mayor, but Lodi does not do that.

"I have had clients who said, 'I got more votes than you, so my opinion counts more,' but I don't think the average voter sees it that way," Parsons said.

Nakanishi agrees that he does not think he has any more influence because of the results.

"As long as you get one more than the other guys, you are happy you won," he said.

Final Lodi City Council election results

Alan Nakanishi, 9,730 votes, 22.9%

Phil Katzakian, 6,621, 15.59%

Larry Hansen, 6,110, 14.39%

John Johnson, 6,009, 14.15%

Tony Amador, 5,003, 11.78%

Jay Patel, 4,545, 10.70%

Tim Reed, 4,312, 10.16%

Write-in votes, 128, 0.16%

How did council members do in own precinct?

Below are the vote totals for the precincts where the seven candidates live.

Tony Amador: Precinct 31: Came in fourth place with 14.2 percent of the vote.

Larry Hansen: Precinct 8: Came in second with 16.1 percent.

John Johnson: Precinct 14: Came in second with 19.6 percent.

Phil Katzakian: Precinct 3: Came in second with 20.6 percent.

Alan Nakanishi: Precinct 2: Came in first with 23.8 percent.

Jay Patel: Precinct 9: Came in second with 16.3 percent.

Timothy Reed: Precinct 8: Came in sixth with 10.5 percent.

Upcoming stories

This is the first in a series of stories analyzing the Lodi City Council race in November.


Where did the other candidates do well? While Alan Nakanishi won every precinct, the remaining six candidates received more than 10 percent of the votes in at least one precinct.


Absentee voters changing elections. With more voters casting their ballot before election day, candidates have to start campaigning earlier and target absentee voters.

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  • Doug Chaney posted at 11:57 am on Mon, Jan 17, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Josh, you're so right. I actually ate my words and through those I know and kepp in contact with, there's nothing but positive written and said about Councilman Nakanishi. Good Luck, sir.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:51 pm on Sun, Jan 16, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    I would like to join Doug’s sentiments and welcome Alan Nakinishi as well... If he is pro business as Josh states, I will celebrate that as business needs all the help it can get in a state like California. However, encouraging business development that takes into consideration quality jobs and the welfare and interests of Lodians in general is equally important… combining the two interests so both win would be welcome.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 3:31 pm on Sun, Jan 16, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    Doug, glad you came around. Prior to the election you continuously criticized Dr. Nakanishi as being too old and one of the "good ol boy's". I believe you will the Doctor's politics to be quite conservative and pro-business. Glad to see him receive such overall approval.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 1:49 pm on Sun, Jan 16, 2011.

    Doug Chaney Posts: 1232

    Welcome, councilman Mr. Alan Nakanishi. My research shows you to be a very intelligent and common sensical person with compassion for the citizens of Lodi and their best interests. I'm looking forward to you, along with councilwoman Mouncee to restore some reasoning and issues that concern ALL citizens of Lodi, and not just those who are well-connected, wealthy, influential or closely connected to the wine industry, realtors, developers, contractors or business associates and their friends and partners. It's time that a council representative with longtime knowledge of Lodi politics and real thoughts and ideas to move the city of Lodi forward in a positive direction, can add some much needed wisdom and intelligenge to correct the ugly decisions made the last 9 years.



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