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Council nixes primary in 2022 for mayor’s job
Manteca City Hall
DENNIS WYATT/The Bulletin The first phase of the current city hall was built in 1978 when Manteca had 13,200 residents.

There will not be a primary election for mayor in June.

The Manteca City Council Tuesday cited the cost — $202,000 — as the main reason for walking away from the suggestion first floated by Councilman Charlie Halford.

Even Halford had a hard time stomaching the amount despite his concern that Manteca could end up electing a mayor in 2022 who doesn’t receive the majority of the votes. That’s because as things stand now it will likely be a four-way race with council members Gary Singh  and Dave Breitenbucher along with Halford challenging Cantu who has made it clear he is seeking a second term.

Halford cited the fact Manteca is still getting its financial house in order and the fact the general election in 2022 will already cost taxpayers around $200,000 as to why a primary election couldn’t be justified.

That said Halford left the door open as did Singh and Councilman Jose Nuno that it should be considered in the future depending upon what unfolds in the next several Manteca election cycles.

Halford noted that a number of area cities such as Brentwood, San Ramon and Tracy as well as Turlock two years ago elected mayors that received less than 50 percent of the votes cast. The last time that happened in Manteca was in 2010. Willie Weatherford was elected to a third term with 42.78 percent of the vote. Next was Cantu at 21.28 percent, Carlon Perry at 18.24 percent, and Debby Moorhead at 17.32 percent.

It is plausible Cantu could have been elected mayor 11 years sooner if there had been a runoff between him and Weatherford.

In 2018 voters citywide made a clear choice. They elected Cantu with 52.29 percent of the vote as opposed to 47.71 percent for Steve DeBrum.

The issue only arises if there are at least three candidates running for mayor.

The city is moving toward district elections for the four council seats in 2022. That means each council member will be elected only by the people that reside within the same district. It would leave the mayor’s position as the only seat elected citywide.

Council members indicated if and when the establishing of a primary is approached again that it might make sense to include the council seats as well.

Cantu shared his thoughts that he didn’t think the general public would be thrilled by campaigns strung out over a year if a primary was added to the mix.


Mayor sets tone for

the City of Manteca

Manteca is a general law city. That means the mayor has no more power to make decisions than each council member. It’s because the only direction anyone who is elected can give when it comes to the people’s business at city hall is when they are part a council majority that casts a vote for a specific course of action.

The mayor’s John Hancock goes on official actions but then again those are actions the majority of the council agrees to and are not unilaterally made by the mayor.

The real power is the soap box Manteca gave the position when the city went with the direct election of mayors in the early 1980s. Prior to that, the council rotated the position among its members on an annual basis as Ripon currently does.

Mayors by how they conduct meetings set the tone. It also means they usually do most of the talking.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email