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Half of field seeking seats in Manteca under 36 years of age
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There will be at least one new Manteca City Council member — either a retired city planner, real estate agent, businessman, fast food worker, or financial advisor — after the Nov. 8 election.
That’s because incumbent Vince Hernandez did not file by the Friday deadline. At the same time two new faces to Manteca politics — Gregory Pitsch and Marcus Davenport — opted not to return nomination papers even with the three extra days they had following Hernandez’ by failing to file by the extended deadline of 5 p.m. on Wednesday.
Incumbent Debby Moorhead is seeking her third term. She’ll be running against five challengers for the two council seats up for grabs.
On the ballot are:
Moorhead who served as Manteca Chamber of Commerce executive director before changing careers.
David Cushman who at age 23 is the youngest person to run for the City Council in at least 40 years and works currently in the fast food industry. He is president of the Manteca Tea Party and brings a unique perspective in that he — along with his wife Genevie — knows how tough it is to secure affordable rental housing in Manteca.
Eric Hayes is a current Manteca Planning Commission member and a businessman.
Gary Singh is a real estate agent and is part of a youth movement of sorts in Manteca politics. Like Jeff Zellner, Singh is in his 30s and has a young family. Between Singh, Zellner, and Cushman, half of the candidates are under 36 years of age. That hasn’t happened in a Manteca council race for at least 50 years if ever. Singh is also the first Sierra High graduate ever to run for council.
Cantu has his own planning firm that he started after spending over 28 years as a city planner before retiring. This will be his fifth try and either a council seat or the mayor’s post.
Zellner is a financial planner who has first-hand knowledge of being homeless. His mom was a single parent struggling to keep things together financially. He spent much of his childhood going from couch to couch in the homes of people his mother knew. He even spent time in a homeless shelter. That pattern changed when he turned 14 and was able to go live with his grandmother. He is president of the HOPE Family Shelters board. Zellner is also a past president of the Manteca Chamber of Commerce.
Three of the candidates — Hayes, Singh, and Zellner — currently serve on the Manteca Planning Commission.
Moorhead is the fifth woman ever to serve on the council. The first was the late Trena Kelley who was elected in the 1980s. She was also the city’s first mayor elated directly by the voters.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email