The upcoming Manteca City Council election Nov. 4 is expected to be anything but normal.
It will be a 100 percent mail ballot election by order of Gov. Gavin Newsom as a way to deal with the ongoing COVID-19.
That has a number of potentially significant implications in the race for two seats currently held by Debby Moorhead who is on her 12th year as a council member and Gary Singh who is seeking his second term.
*All eligible voters will have ballots mailed to them. That is expected to significantly increase turnout.
*Given the ballots are mailed 30 days in advance and research shows as much as 50 percent of the mail-in voters cast their ballots within two weeks of receiving them, those campaigning will likely need to start a month earlier than usual.
*But with social distancing in place it raises the question when candidates that favor going door-to-door can actually start under the stay at home orders in place. And then there is the question of whether voters would be comfortable with door-to-door campaigning even if it were permissible under social distancing protocols.
*The pandemic has forced the cancellation of various community events and gatherings that candidates typically hit to get more exposure. Even the rescheduled Crossroads Street Fair for Aug. 5-6 or the Manteca Pumpkin Fair on the first weekend in October are not sure things in terms of being possible to stage with the COVID-19 orders that are in place.
*By the same token traditional campaign fundraisers would be questionable unless the emergency orders are changed.
*Between the stay-at-home and social distancing protocols it would place more emphasis on trying to reach voters through social media, mailers, phone banks, print media, yard sign, and cable TV.
*Incumbents could be vulnerable with general frustrations of how government is handling the COVID-19 pandemic from both sides of the spectrum. It could mean the lockdown in terms of how long it was in place or why it wasn’t in place longer and the subsequent protocols put in place to reopen the economy could end up as the No. 1 issue even though local authorities had limited say in measures put in place.
Filing for the council seats open in mid-July.
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