Nobody really knew what the format would be when the Manteca Unified School District trustee hopefuls sat in the front row Tuesday night awaiting their introduction.
But nobody really expected what would happen once they sat down, either.
While there has been no shortage of jabs thrown from the dais about board members that ran unopposed rather than those that stood for election, the four people vying for the 18-month term allotted after Alexander Bronson resigned from his position were well-prepared, thoughtful and most of all, humorous in their nearly two hours on the hot seat – giving those in the audience that stuck out the public more than a few laughs.
And Jim Anderson was the originator of most of them.
The retired Sheriff’s Deputy and criminal investigator, who now coaches freshman football at Sierra High School and is well-known for singling Elvis Presley standards with his band Jim Anderson and the Rebels, had more than a few one-liners and self-deprecating answers that had even Superintendent Jason Messer chuckling – like when Anderson sidestepped a question and gave everybody in attendance permission to do something other than listen to his answer.
“I’m not going to be able to answer it so everybody out there you can sit, smile or look at your phone,” he said. “I’m sorry I’m juvenile at this, but thank you.”
The best part of Anderson’s presence, however, was that his gregarious personality was infectious among the rest of his peers – each of whom, himself included, had a resume worthy of serving in the position that was ultimately bestowed on Manteca Police Department Detective Steve Schluer.
At least twice during the night Schluer had to laugh himself being that he followed Anderson.
“Jim – how do I follow that,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to go over and give him a hug now or what.”
Ultimately Anderson in a heartfelt signoff said that even though it was a position he was vying for, if the decision were to be made by the electorate and not by the board he would probably endorse Schluer for the position because of his impeccable credentials and his huge presence that won over the board unanimously.
Current Tracy Fire Captain Franco Torrice – who spent the majority of his early career working for the Manteca Fire Department – had his moment of laughter as well.
When Schluer’s wife had the volume of a police radio turned up slightly too high and the sound of dispatch tones went off he looked back instinctively while he was answering a question and noted that it was out of habit – he was ready to get up out of his chair and run out of the room.