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Its WW III for Manteca
Weatherford wins 3rd term as mayor
Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford, left, is greeted by supporters Tuesday as he arrived for an election night party at friend Jack Snyder’s house. - photo by HIME ROMERO


The following are the mayors that Manteca voters have put in office since direct election of mayors went into effect in 1980:

• 1980: Trena Kelley
• 1983: Jack Snyder
• 1990: Frank Warren
• 1994: Bill Perry
• 1998: Carlon Perry
• 2002: Willie Weatherford

Manteca voters elected Willie William Weatherford to an unprecedented third four-year term as mayor Tuesday.

Weatherford, first elected mayor in 2002, was leading with 42.99 percent of all votes as of midnight with 23 of 38 precincts reporting. That translated into 4,151 votes. Next was Ben Cantu with 2,075 votes (21.49%), Carlon Perry with 1,825 votes (18.90 percent) and Debby Moorhead with 1,591 votes (16.48 percent).

The totals reflect absentee ballots mailed in early and 60 percent of all of the votes cast on Tuesday. It does not include absentee ballots turned in at polling places on Tuesday that still have to be verified and then counted.

Council incumbents John Harris and Vincent Hernandez were both enjoying solid leads as of midnight although challengers Samuel Anderson and Richard Behling made strong showings despite being outspent at least 13 to 1. The two incumbents raised just over $13,100 between them for their campaigns while Behling and Anderson both signed declarations they would spend less than $1,000 apiece on the race.

As of midnight, Harris was leading the pack with 3,978 votes (27.75 percent) followed by Hernandez with 3,968 (27.68 percent), Richard Behling 3,348 votes (23.35 percent) and Anderson (23.35 percent).

Harris appeared to be heading for a fifth term on the council and Hernandez for a third.

“I’m humbled by the support,” Weatherford said at a victory celebration taking place at long-time supporter and friend Jack Snyder’s home Tuesday evening.

Weatherford credited the current council – which will remain intact – for making the hard decisions and being honest about what is needed for Manteca’s future.

“It is about creating jobs and serving the people,” Weatherford added.

The mayor’s election – more so than the City Council race – was framed by challengers as a referendum on the performance of the city over the last four years in using redevelopment agency funds and sales tax sharing deals in a bid to stimulate economic development. It also was focused sharply on how elected leaders responded to the budget crisis with steps to reduce municipal spending and staffing, restructure the remaining jobs, and ultimately the laying off of 12 police officers.

Perry, speaking at an election night gathering at the Village Sandwich Shoppe, said it was clear that, if the numbers held, that voters were “approving” of the way the city has been run for the past four years.

Perry  based his campaign on what he described as “out of control spending” and a string of bad fiscal decisions that got the city into a budget mess that led to the decision to lay off 12 police officers.

Perry volunteered that he would probably not be seeking another office.

Perry served 10 years on the City Council including four years as mayor. He initially defeated Weatherford in 1998. In a rematch in 2002 Weatherford beat Perry. Weatherford was not opposed for re-election in 2006. It was the first time since the direct election of mayors went into effect in 1980 that an incumbent faced no opposition.

Weatherford is finishing 14 years on the council including eight years as mayor. He is the first mayor to be elected to a third four-year term and if he finished it he will be the longest serving mayor ever.

Jack Snyder who was elected mayor in the recall election of 1983 to replace the first directly elected mayor – Trena Kelley – was elected again in 1986. When combined with two years of being appointed mayor by fellow council members prior to 1980, Snyder served nine years as mayor.

Snyder said he believed the election reflected that people were satisfied with the direction Manteca is being taken by the current council.

“When you have a winning team, you don’t break it up,” Snyder said.

Weatherford is a retired Manteca police chief and former city manager/police chief for Galt. He served in the Air Force prior to going into law enforcement.