Several Weston Ranch residents came to the defense of Manteca Unified Trustee Sam Fant at the Tuesday night Board of Trustee meeting over a column in Tuesday’s Manteca Bulletin suggesting he should resign.
In his column, Bulletin Executive Editor Dennis Wyatt made the suggestion that the board should ask Fant to resign. That suggestion stems from Fant’s role in the candidacy of two people who are challenging two incumbents in the November elections – Alexander Bronson who is running against board president Don Scholl as representative of Area 6, and Ashley Drain who wants to unseat Manuel Medeiros as the trustee representing Area 2.
In the story that ran in the Sept. 6 and 7 weekend edition of the Manteca Bulletin, it was found that both Bronson and Drain listed the same Manteca residential address in the papers that they filed with the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters. That address is on Verda Drive, a block just north of East Louise Avenue and off of Elm Street. Fant was put down by both candidates as the person who can verify the information they placed in the paper work that they submitted to the Registrar of Voters as being accurate and truthful. Drain ended up crossing out that Manteca address on her official filing paperwork and replaced it with a Weston Ranch address.
One of the speakers who defended Fant was James Griffin who described himself as a 10-year resident of Weston Ranch. Griffin said. what Wyatt and the newspaper are “doing to Mr. Fant” by suggesting that the board should ask him to resign is akin to a “modern-day lynching.”
It’s “Chicago-style politics,” he said of the way “they are accusing Mr. Fant of doing.”
“He (Fant) has been doing a good job. I appreciate his efforts there (Weston Ranch),” bringing programs such as swimming to this Stockton community “which children in the past have not had,” Griffin added.
He asked the board “not to jump on unsubstantiated articles,” referring to the investigative findings reported in the front page story in the Bulletin weekend edition that reporter Jason Campbell dug out of official candidates’ papers filed with the county Registrar of Voters.
Another speaker, Richard Smith of Weston Ranch, threw his support to Fant saying, “Sam’s done a lot for the community. He has brought a lot of programs to the community that give kids a lot to do.”
He told the board to “ignore the Manteca newspaper” and “consider keeping him on the board.” Besides, Griffin said, Fant “brings diversity to the board.”
Referring to comments made earlier by Jill Fritchen, a 24-year resident of Weston Ranch and the wife of Dale Fritchen who served as a trustee representing that community for eight years.
“I’m good friends with the Fritchens. Dale Fritchen helped build Weston Ranch,” Smith said.
In her comment before the board, Jill Fritchen said that in the years prior to Fant’s tenure on the board, Weston Ranch had great representation in the Manteca Unified School District from the time “all (Weston Ranch) kids were bused to East Union High School through the years when the high school and the stadium were built.
“None of those things were done by Mr. Fant,” Fritchen pointed out in a tight voice as she visibly tried to control her anger while addressing the board. Fritchen, herself, served for many years on the San Joaquin County Board of Education as a board member in addition to serving as board president.
“To insinuate that we (in Weston Ranch) haven’t had representation really bothers me,” she said.
Manteca resident Karen Pearsall did not speak on the matter involving Fant; however, she pointed out one observation. Not one of the speakers addressed the issue of Fant’s involvement in the Bronson’s and Drain’s election paper work which listed them as living in the same Manteca address but have reportedly never lived in that residence.