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Ishihara running for seat on Lathrop-Manteca fire board

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POSTED October 17, 2012 1:22 a.m.

Toshi Ishihara — who served 32 years as an educator with a gift for math — is running for one of three seats on the Lathrop-Manteca Fire Protection District board.

The soft spoken fire district candidate holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Stanislaus State University.  He was quick to say that all of his successes in life are directly related to his wife Suzi.

Ishihara served four years in the U.S. Air Force based out of Travis Air Force Base as a specialist in HAZMAT services overseeing the balancing of bomb loads on C-5 military aircraft. He also served 20 years in a reserve unit at the base.  He also served in Desert Storm and Iraq in the ‘90s.

The longtime Lathrop citizen remembers and spoke highly of his young paper boy who never missed the porch and later grew up to be Manteca’s police chief, David Bricker.

Ishihara was interred as a 5-year-old with his family in the Central Valley Japanese camps of World War II.  When his family was released and they returned to the French Camp/Lathrop area he could not speak English and the older children were mixed in with kindergartners.

His passions involved his family first, followed by his teaching career and his Air Force involvement.  While most of the reserve units in the country served only a two week summer camp each year, Toshi did a little more.  As an elementary teacher he had the entire summer off from school, and he chose to stay on base doing what he could for nearly three months.

As a teacher he prided himself in ridding his students of their fear of algebra, explaining that it was actually a balancing equation they were facing – not hard at all.   The math approach of “Casting Out 9s” was another of his efforts in making them see just how easy and fun math could be for them.

Ishihara took his students to a Modesto School Board meeting where he challenged the trustees with his students.  Both groups had the same number of math multiplication problems to solve in a given time with the use of Casting Out 9s.  The five boys and girls from his class were finished with all of the problems before the adults could get through just the second one on the list.  He is proud to say three of his students went on to West Point Military Academy.

Four candidates are running for three seats on the district fire board - Ishihara, Bennie Gatto, Manuel Medeiros and Gloryanna Rhodes.

Close friend Bennie Gatto coaxed him into running after he was already serving on the city planning commission, the Aging Commission and the Senior Advisory Commission.  He has also been a regular in attendance at the fire district board meetings, he added.

Ishihara said he and Gatto have served on the Lathrop High School football team’s sidelines at games working side by side on the chain gang noting they have been best friends for years.

As for being in a leadership role such as the fire district’s board, Toshi said he doesn’t like to micro-manage anyone as long as they are doing their jobs.  This philosophy served him well as a master sergeant in the Air Force.

“We need to accommodate the fire chief in his needs,” Toshi said, hoping that the current one cent sales tax measure will pass in supporting the fire department. 

He has attended the Lathrop Police Citizen’s Academy for all of the last nine years.

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