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Maldonado makes pitch in Manteca
Lauds Weatherford for citys strong business climate
California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, right, meets Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford and his wife Sherilyn during a campaign stop Thursday at the Manteca Auto Plaza on South Main Street at the Highway 120 Bypass. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Certainty in government – certainty that the electorate can count on – is so very important in today’s economic climate, Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado told Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford in his campaign stop on South Main Street Thursday afternoon.
Maldonado, 47,  and his campaign staff pulled their “Only in California” tour  bus into the parking lot of the Manteca Auto Mall at about 5 p.m. at South Main Street and the Highway 120 Bypass in their statewide trip to meet the electorate.

The Republican lieutenant governor was appointed to his position in the spring and is now running to hold on to that seat in the Nov, 2 election. He is vying for the post with Democrat Gavin Newsom, the 42-year-old mayor of San Francisco.

Speaking to Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford, Maldonado lauded him and his City Council for creating that climate of “certainty” that he said is responsible for bringing new businesses into the Manteca community – on a greater basis than in any surrounding community.

He stressed that when businesses from outside the area feel confident about the local government structure – they will come to your community – and they have come, he said.  Business wants to plan, knowing they can count on the stability of local government, he added.  Manteca has that certainty, he added.

City council member,  and a candidate for mayor, Debby Moorhead also greeted Maldonado along with a small group of Mantecans standing outside the bus parked in front of the dealership offices.

The tour bus was in Los Angeles on Wednesday and moved up the state making stops in Bakersfield, Fresno and Modesto among others before coming into Manteca where they stayed on  to have dinner.   Maldonado and his entourage expect to be in Santa Rosa on Friday as they continue northward throughout the state.

The incumbent candidate remembers so much about his childhood from the lessons of family work ethic and quality of life learned from his parents along with memories of a special teacher in the first grade.

That teacher, “Mrs. Leon,” instilled in him and his class mates that they were first and foremost students and it didn’t matter where they had come from.  He said he always remembered that through his school years and while he was picking strawberries in the fields with his brother, sister, mom and dad at the age of 10.

Maldonado’s dad was a bracero during the early ‘60s where Mexican men were bused into the farmlands of the Central Valley, often living in old World War II Army barracks.  One such set of barracks used for their housing was located at the Stockton Airport adjacent to the Army and National Guard installations.

He said his dad was somewhat upset about complaints about living conditions today, saying those barracks were better housing units than the U.S. military is using in Iraq today.  

The lieutenant governor attended Santa Maria High School and after graduation went on to California State University at San Luis Obispo where he majored in Crop Science.  He took the ideas he learned in college back to his family’s small half-acre farm of strawberries that has blossomed into 6,000 acres and employs 250 workers today, shipping produce all over the world.

The farm had its start in 1994 and he remembers trying to build a 35,000-square-foot cooling facility – hoping to create a place for more jobs – running into endless red tape in the process.  Becoming disillusioned with the city’s customer service and its endless bureaucracy, he opted to run for a seat on the Santa Maria city council at the age of 26.

Two years after being elected to the council, he was elevated by his constituents to mayor in a run against the incumbent.  He was later credited for leading the city out of its financial crisis moving on to Sacramento for a seat on the State Assembly.

The Americans for Tax Reform cited him as being the “hero of taxpayers” in the state house.  He reportedly also led an effort to put seat belts in school buses and worked with Governor Schwarzenegger to reform the outdated California Workers Compensation System.  

In 2004 he was elected to serve the residents and businesses of the 15th Senatorial District.  In April of this year he was nominated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for the open seat of lieutenant governor, a move that was confirmed by his fellow legislators.      
Campaign staffers commented Thursday afternoon as they were getting back on the bus on the friendliness of people living in Manteca and the Central Valley as compared to those they were meeting in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles.