The local election dust is still settling, but it appears the city council will have two new members: Lisa

Craig and Cameron Bregman. At 21 years old, Bregman would set a new record for the youngest person to be elected to the governing body. His apparent victory counts as an upset by unseating two-term incumbent Doug Kuehne. It’s been a very tough year for Kuehne after losing his son in an accident, then losing his bid to become a county supervisor, and now this loss. In District 2, it looks like Craig bested Summer Pennino, albeit by a relatively slim margin. Despite waging an aggressive campaign, which included help from her dad — himself a former Lodi mayor, the numbers apparently didn’t work in her favor. And, it would be easy to overlook the fact that Alan Nakanishi won re-election in District 1, tying the record for the most terms served (five). He ran unopposed, so there was no campaigning. He didn’t even appear on the ballot. Assuming her lead holds, Craig says her first order of business will be to better understand the city’s finances and to help prioritize use of the $8 million operating surplus the city had at the end of last fiscal year. Bregman didn’t wish to comment until the tally is final. Craig will be only the sixth woman to serve on the council.

POLICE BEAT: Last week a Lodi resident caught someone trying to steal the catalytic converter from his vehicle. While his wife calls police, he confronts the person and holds him at gunpoint until police arrive and arrest him. Details of the incident were posted on social media and are somewhat scant. Debbie Prost Salaices commented, “It’s about time someone went old school on a thief. Good job!” James Woods said, “One for the good guys.” Marilee Pennino responded, “And that is that. That is how one takes care of it.” Brenda Wells Brozinick said, “Awesome for the husband. Time for more citizens to ‘take back’ their cities!”

LIGHT EM’ UP: The Lodi Light Parade is just a couple weeks away — Dec. 1. The annual event is organized by the Lodi Kiwanis Club of Greater Lodi. It draws thousands of spectators from all over the region, and attracts between 60 and 80 entrants. This will be the 27th time the parade will light up downtown Lodi. Grand Marshals will be Drs. Jasper and Param Gill, who were chosen because of their “contributions to the greater Lodi area in the way of health care,” according to parade captain Chet Somera. Thirteen-year-old Olivia Brown, who suffers from cancer, will be honorary grand marshal. Somera says parade entries are filling up fast, so if you want to participate, grab some lights and contact your neighborhood Kiwanian.

SOUND OF MUSIC: There’s a piano that’s appeared in front of the Post Office parking lot on School Street. It’s part of a public art project by Sayla Music Academy and the Lodi Arts Foundation. It is the first of several pianos that could be popping up around town. And, yes, the pianos are for playing, in case you’re in the mood to tickle the ivory. Sayla Music Academy is a relative newcomer to the downtown area with studios on the corner of Locust and School. The academy is “dedicated to the cultivation of strong communities through quality music education and engaging music performances.”

NEW RIDE: It’s that time of year again. Ken Heffel and Vienna Nursing and Rehabilitation Center awarded a new car to another 30-year employee. Tiffany Selling was presented with the keys to her new ride at a luncheon held in her honor at the facility last week. This makes the 19th car Heffel has given away to career employees who stay 30 years.

ACT OF KINDNESS: A elderly man went to Burger King on Kettleman Lane recently and ordered lunch to go. A young restaurant employee noticed the gentleman had a hard time getting around, so he volunteered to help. The episode didn’t go unnoticed by other patrons, one of whom photographed and posted the act of kindness, saying, “I saw this amazing employee helping this elderly man to his car, then proceeded to put his food in his car and help him. Not often do you see kindness anymore.” Alice Dodson responded by saying, “Just when one gets the feeling that humanity has gone to hell in a hand basket, someone posts something nice like this which helps restore positivity.” Indeed.

ROUND TWO: A few weeks ago, this column reported that Health Plan of San Joaquin had granted Tracy, Stockton and Modesto $15 million to address the homeless problem in those cities. Lodi got nothing, even though the latest Point in Time Count done in January showed Lodi’s unsheltered number grew by 50%. The count indicated Tracy and Stockton’s numbers shrinking considerably. Interestingly, no one believes the Tracy or Stockton numbers — they’re way too low. Even though the grants have already been given, Health Plan CEO Michael Schrader told City Manager Steve Schwabauer that Lodi could receive money in the next round, if there is one.

HOLD-UP: A couple weeks ago Governor Newsom announced plans to hold up $1 billion of funding for cities and counties to help handle the homeless problem. The gov says city and county plans were not aggressive enough to solve the problem any time soon. According to city officials, the funds freeze won’t affect construction of the new access center, but it could impact its ongoing operations. That’s not good news because the city is relying heavily on state money to run the place. The facility will be located on North Sacramento Street next to the Salvation Army. The project will take about 18 months or so to complete, but in the meantime an indoor tent city for unsheltered folks has been set up. The city says the project will cost about $12 million and about a $1 million-plus per year to operate. The temporary shelter currently houses about 50 people. When the access center opens in a couple years, the city hopes to accommodate most unsheltered people in town.

FLASHBACK: Twenty-five years ago, Downtown Lodi was reborn. A revitalization project that started years earlier was finally completed in 1997ish, resulting in dramatic changes made to the streetscape. They included yellow sidewalks, street pavers, tree wells protruding into the roadway and a slick new Gateway Arch. But there have been many changes to the downtown area over the years. School Street used to be the town’s shopping mecca. Fifty years ago, there were gas stations on nearly every other corner. Drug stores occupied the other corners. The National Dollar Store was where the post office parking lot is now. Next to the Dollar Store was Rummel’s Camera Shop (later to become Stark’s), next to it was Turner Hardware. On the next block was the First Western Bank (later to become First Interstate Bank). Down the block next to the alley was the Cottage Bakery. Years later owner Ray Knutson would move and expand the bakery across the street. On the west side of School was Lyon’s Restaurant on the corner of School and Lodi Avenue. Two blocks over was Wilson’s Rexall Pharmacy and Woolworth’s. Penney’s was across the alley, then Wright’s Stationers (where Lodi Beer Co. is now). Bank of America was in its spot on the corner of School and Oak. Across the street was The Toggery men’s store. The Mall Coffee Shop was down the street, next to the Hotel Lodi. Squire Clothiers had the corner of School and Pine. Christensen’s Fashions was across the street on the northwest corner. The 1990’s revitalization would make Downtown Lodi a destination. Empty storefronts filled up. A new movie theater was built. Restaurants opened. Wine tasting rooms would proliferate. The downtown district had transformed itself from a retail center into an entertainment venue, which it remains to this day.


Steve is a former newspaper publisher and lifelong Lodian whose column appears most Tuesdays in the News-Sentinel. Write to Steve at