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Eight so far seek two openings in Manteca
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The November Manteca City Council election could be one for the record books.
As of Monday at 3 p.m. eight hopefuls had picked up nomination papers to collect needed voter signatures to qualify for the Nov. 8 election.
City Clerk Lisa Blackmon noted several others have indicated an interest in running but have yet to take out papers.
Those circulating nomination papers are Ben Cantu, David Cushman, Marcus Davenport, Eric Hayes, Gregory Pitsch, Debbie Moorhead, Gary Singh, and Jeffrey Zellner.
Pitsch and Davenport are newcomers to Manteca politics.
Pitsch is a 2003 East Union High graduate who in 2012 ran for the Stockton’s mayor job on an anti-crime platform. The owner of several small businesses has since returned to Manteca.
Davenport has been a Manteca resident since 2009. His background includes employment as a police officer, an administrator at the University of the Pacific, and as a salesman for a local manufacturing concern.
Two seats are up for election in November.
If all of the eight qualify for the ballot it will be the largest number of candidates in modern times dating back to at least the early 1980s — if not ever — to run in a Manteca City Council election.
It also would mark the first time the majority of the five-member Manteca Planning Commission is running for election to the City Council at the same time. They are Hayes, Singh, and Zellner. If two of the three are elected it would mean four-fifths of the council when December rolls around will have served on the Planning Commission prior to election to the council. Current council members Mike Morowit and Richard Silverman elected in 2014 were previously on the planning commission.
Hayes, Singh and Zellner aren’t the only candidates with ties to the city’s planning. Cantu, who retired a few years back after 28 years on the Community Development Department staff, is also seeking election to the council.
Moorhead is one of the incumbents holding the two seats up for election this year. She is seeking her third four-year term.
Hernandez has indicated he does not plan to seek reelection after completing his 16th year on the council. The school administrator has said he is exploring running for Bob Elliott’s seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors in 2020 or possibly a run for the State Senate.
Nomination papers must be filed by Friday, Aug. 12, at 5 p.m. at the City Clerk’s office at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
If Hernandez does not file as an incumbent state law requires an extension of the filing period to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 17. Blackmon said she will make that determination on Aug. 12 at 5 p.m.
Candidates are generally advised to turn in signatures early enough to allow them to be verified.
One election cycle Wayne Flores — who had served two terms on the council and was seeking another term after the passing of several years — filed papers on the final day.  He did not qualify for the ballot as a number of the signatures were ruled invalid dropping him below the minimum required threshold.
Signers of candidate petitions must be registered voters and legally reside within the city limits of Manteca.
In the 2014 election a man who was a resident of Lathrop tried to run for the Manteca council but was barred from doing so because he was not a city resident of Manteca.
The 2014 election was also when two Manteca Unified candidates who ended up winning claimed residency in school district trustee areas that they were elected to represent. The District Attorney in conjunction with the California Attorney General’s office determined that wasn’t the case. The two — Ashley Drain and Alexander Bronson  — have since resigned and are now being prosecuted for alleged voter fraud.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email