Following the passage of the controversial Measure L last November, the City of Lodi heads into the new year with a little more financial security with revenue from the half-cent sales tax hike set to start rolling in.
How the new revenue — projected at $5 million annually — will be spent will be closely watched by many, including an oversight committee that will be formed in the coming months.
City officials have said that the funds will help maintain vital services, but those who opposed the measure argue that the money will be used to pay for spiraling pension costs.
This is just one local issue worth following in 2019. Following is the rest of our top-nine list.
The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted in April 2018 to eliminate the office of the coroner — a position formerly held by then-Sheriff Steve Moore — and establish a new office of the medical examiner independent of the sheriff.
The decision came after Dr. Susan Parson and Dr. Bennet Omalu resigned from their positions as forensic pathologists with the San Joaquin County Coroner’s Office in December 2017, claiming that Moore interfered with their investigations by attempting to influence their decisions.
Once the new office has been established, the medical examiner will be responsible for determining both the cause and manner of deaths. County supervisors have interviewed candidates, and could hire a medical examiner as soon as late January 2019.
During the June 2018 primary election, Pat Withrow defeated Moore in the race for San Joaquin County Sheriff. Withrow will be sworn in at noon Monday at the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office, 7000 Michael Canlis Way, French Camp.
Lodi saw an abnormally high murder rate in 2018, and at least one of the city’s nine homicides is expected to go to trial.
Dr. Thomas Grant Shock, 67, a retired podiatrist, was fatally shot on Aug. 1, 2018, in the doorway of his home on Rivergate Drive.
Robert Elmo Lee, 79, of Lodi, Christopher Anthony Costello, 26, of Sacramento, Mallory Stewart, Jr., 27, of Sacramento and Raymond Austin Hasson Jacquett IV, 26, of Sacramento were arrested in connection with Shock’s murder.
All four defendants were arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the fatal shooting of Shock, and all four have entered pleas of “not guilty.”
Lee and Stewart both face the additional charge of committing murder while lying in wait, according to court records, with Stewart also facing additional charges of murder for financial gain, using a firearm while committing a felony, having a prior felony conviction and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Jacquett — the suspected getaway driver — will appear for court for arraignment on information on Jan. 10 after a judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence to hold him for trial during a December 2018 preliminary hearing, and the other defendants are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on March 21.
Later this year, Lodi is expected to receive more than $1 million in grants from the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) to build homes for the homeless.
Although the funds will not be available until late February or early March, they will be used to build four to six homes of 450 to 500 square feet each to house people who complete rehabilitation programs such as those offered by the Salvation Army.
Funding was determined by a 2017 point-in-time census of California’s homeless population that identified 567 unsheltered homeless in San Joaquin County, and the county will conduct another point-in-time census on Jan. 23.
Several new housing developments have been established in Lodi and the projections for 2019 highlight continued growth, according to Lodi Senior Planner Craig Hoffman, who added that the senior apartments at Reynolds Ranch in southeast Lodi are also set to take on residents this year.
Lodi is expected to have a healthy year as plans are underway for new businesses — a new bowling alley, hotels and a new restaurant are expected to break ground this year — as well as major expansions at popular spots in Downtown Lodi.
Lodi continues to cement its status as one of the top wine regions in the world. Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Lodi Winemaker Adam Mettler Winemaker of the Year for 2018 and local wineries continued to expand into the national and world markets. Will 2019 be another vintage year?
Boys and Girls Club
Although the Lodi Boys and Girls Club nearly had to close its doors last year due to s lack of funds, the club met its fundraising goal of between $100,000 and $150,000 to stay open through the end of 2018.
Now that the club’s regular fundraising season has begun again, Eddie Cotton, the club’s president and chief executive officer, is working on ways to secure consistent funding from local donors to ensure that the club can keep its doors open for years to come.
Mark Chandler became the new mayor of Lodi and increasing tourism in the city is a top priority. The expansion of the wine industry, a vibrant outdoor recreation scene, a top-notch science museum and local events such as the Sandhill Crane Festival have led to more visitors and a push for more hotels and vacation rental properties in the city.
On Dec. 11, 2018, the Lodi Unified School District Board of Education welcomed two new members.
Susan Macfarlane, a self-employed insurance adjuster and former Science Olympiad coach, now represents Area 1 after defeating former board member Bonnie Cassel in the November 2018 general election.
Courtney Porter, a Tokay High School teacher and water polo coach, now represents Area 4 replacing former board member Dr. Daryl Talken, who chose not to run for re-election.
Both Macfarlane and Porter agree with their fellow board members about the importance of having every student in the school district able to read at grade level by the end of third grade, as well as incorporating more technology in classrooms.
Reporters John Bays, and Oula Miqbel contributed to this article