Vince Hernandez is back in the saddle.
After losing re-election to a fourth term by 671 votes just over six weeks ago, Hernandez was the unanimous pick Tuesday by the Manteca City Council to fill the remaining two years of Steve DeBrum’s council term vacated after his election as mayor.
Even Councilman Richard Silverman who had been wrestling with who to appoint noting his first inclination was that voters opted not to return Hernandez in the three-man race for two council seats agreed that Hernandez was the right man for the job.
Should Hernandez accept the appointment he must be sworn in by the city clerk before it is official.
A round of applause greeted the council’s decision.
Silverman said he has talked to constituents about the appointment and had been “wrestling” with what to do. He noted when he went door-to-door that people made it clear they wanted to see new faces but at the same time they weren’t unhappy about the general direction the city was going in. Silverman also said he heard no one speak ill of Hernandez. As for new faces, Silverman said that Mike Morowit as well as himself qualified as new blood on the council.
“I have to vote for what I think is best for the people of Manteca — all 72,000 residents and not just the voters,” Silverman said.
Silverman, before casting his vote, said “it wasn’t until three or four minutes ago that I knew how I was going to vote.” That was a reference to the case that Mayor DeBrum laid out for Hernandez’s appointment.
DeBrum talked how the next two years would be critical for Manteca’s future:
• Seven bargaining units of city employees have labor contracts expiring June 30.
• A final decision on Great Wolf Resorts and the family entertainment zone is coming up by mid-2015. Hernandez has been a key part of Great Wolf negotiations along with DeBrum.
• Some 45 percent of the municipal workforce will be 50 years or older by 2016 and 22 percent at least 55 years or older setting the stage for a mass exodus of institutional knowledge and experience.
• The need to keep efforts to get Austin Road Business Park and CenterPoint employment centers in place to provide jobs for Manteca’s residents.
• The need to attract more sources of sales tax to help build up police and fire services.
• Getting the downtown revitalization underway.
• Tackling the issue of upcoming 2 to 5 percent annual increases in California Public Employees Retirement System contributions expected to start in 2016.
Morowit agreed time was of the essence in filling the vacancy.
He also noted that he didn’t favor appointing someone who didn’t go through the campaign process.
“I would have liked to have been appointed,” Morowit said, drawing a few chuckles.
Morowit was the top vote getter in the November election.
“It does take a special person to go through a campaign,” Morowit added. “I wouldn’t have said that two years ago.”
Councilwoman Debbie Moorhead, who first floated Hernandez’s name, noted “I’ve never heard anything negative about Vince. His heart is for Manteca.”