By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Dairymen, farmers top campaign donors
Members of the Punjabi American Association of Manteca celebrate election night with councilman-elect Mike Morowit, second from left, at Mountain Mikes Pizza. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Money is the mother’s milk of politics.

Those words uttered by the late California Assembly Speaker Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh ring true in Manteca — literally.

Farmers led by dairymen were the largest single group of contributors to the five candidates on the ballot in Tuesday’s municipal election.

They donated $19,800 eclipsing the next largest group consisting of developers and builders that contributed $18,550. Coming in at third were those with ties to the Punjabi American business community at $4,700.

In the 2012 election the agricultural community also led the way followed by developers/builders and the Punjabi American community. In the 2010 election, the Punjabi American community was the major force as the weakened economy meant there was little building activity. They were key backers in 2010 of Willie Weatherford who is ending a 12-year stint as mayor in December and Debby Moorhead who has another two years left to serve on her current term.

The Punjabi American Association of Manteca still holds the record for the largest single campaign donation made in Manteca. That was a $4,000 check the organization wrote in 2010 to Morehead’s campaign for mayor. In that five-way race for mayor that also includes incumbent Willie Weatherford as well as Ben Cantu and Carlon Perry, the Punjabi American community donated $9,500 or a fifth of all the money collected by the candidates. Weatherford in that election received $4,610 from 18 individual Punjabi Americans who own or operate retail businesses and trucking lines in or near Manteca.

Of the $123,845 raised in the campaign as of Oct. 30, Steve DeBrum was the largest fundraisers at $46,404.

A large chunk of DeBrum’s donations were under $100 each and do not require reporting. Those were mostly people paying $20 to $50 per ticket at campaign fundraisers. 

DeBrum also collected the lion’s share of the agricultural community donations.

The mayor-elect has close ties with the dairy and farming communities.

DeBrum was born in Hanford and graduated from Hanford High School in 1965.  He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from California State Polytechnic College, San Luis Obispo in 1970. 

DeBrum then went to work for Foremost Foods Company in their laboratory and later in the Field Department. In 1979, DeBrum was hired as the Dairy Manager for Knudsen Agricultural Management Company. 

In 1984, DeBrum began service from his home base in Manteca as the Area Field Representative for a number of dairy farmers, an agricultural marketing cooperative now known as the Dairy Farmers of America. He now serves as DFA’s Northern California manager which covers the Northern California and Northern Nevada area. 

 It explains why a good portion of his donations came from dairy farmers as far as 100 miles away from Manteca.

Farmers have historically contributed to Manteca campaigns. Many have business interests in Manteca and are sometimes in the path of development. Several actively partner with developers.