The desire to build a better life for his family brought Jose Nuño’s grandfather to Manteca in the 1930s and 1940s to work the fields on his northern most swing as a migrant farm worker.
It is also what prompted his father, Antonio Nuño, to secure employment in Waterford in eastern Stanislaus County as a legal immigrant. Waterford drew him as he had relatives already living there. Nuño’s father started his career with Dave Wilson Nursery — the nation’s largest provider of fruit trees for growers. He then brought his wife Teresa and their son and daughter Angelica to Waterford.
Ultimately Jose and his wife Gabriela settled in Manteca to assure they could spend as much time as possible together after they met at Stanislaus State in Turlock and eventually married. He secured a job in Stockton with the non-profit Visionary Home Builders and she finished up her degree and was hired in the admission department at CSUS. She is now the assistant director of enrollment services at CSUS.
“What brought us here initially was the fact it made our commutes about the same,” the 43-year-old Nuño said.
Gabriela had lived in Manteca and is an East Union High graduate.
Eventually the rest of his family followed suit and ended up moving to Manteca.
Nuño, the first Manteca councilman that’s a first generation American in modern city history, took the oath of office Tuesday after being elected on Nov. 6. Nuño was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to California when he was 5.
Nuño grew up in Waterford and graduated from Oakdale High. A strong academic achiever in high school, Nuño said it was a “cultural shock” when he started college at CSUS.
“As a first generation American I didn’t know how to navigate college,” Nuño recalled.
He found himself floundering and opted to join the Army.
His training for the signal corps brought him back to California where he was stationed at Camp Parks in Dublin. After his eight years of service he was hired as a police assistant for the Modesto Police Department where he was initially assigned to parking enforcement. That piqued his interest in law enforcement prompting him to train and volunteer as a Modesto reserve officer.
Nuño resumed his education at Modesto Junior College where he obtained several associate of arts degrees. He then returned to CSUS where he obtained a degree in psychology and eventually earned a master’s in public administration.
The importance of family and home ownership is strongly engrained in Nuño.
His parents were part of 10 families that qualified for a Habitat for Humanity type of program designed to provide workforce housing in Waterford that allowed them to secure their own homes by essentially using sweat equity. By helping build their own homes that brought the price down enough that he could afford to purchase the home on his modest wages.
“It provided stability,” Nuño said of the home.
Nuño noted that given “my father never made a lot of money” while working fulltime, the innovative workforce housing project made owning a home possible.
When Nuño and his wife set out in 2008 to buy a home they initially looked at foreclosures but figured despite low prices the work many of them needed was beyond their financial means. They ended up in a new Florsheim Homes development southwest of Airport Way and the 120 Bypass buying a new home of about 1,400 square feet for $275,000 that was being offered in a bid to make new homes more affordable in a market flooded with low-priced foreclosures and short sales. They have since bought another home in Manteca and his parents have moved into that Floresheim Home.
Nuño has spent the past 14 years as part of the non-profit Stockton-based Visionary Home Builders of California that has more than 3,500 affordable homes in five counties that represents a $150 million real estate portfolio.
He is the vice president of programs and services. That involves assets management, overseeing home ownership endeavors, and educating clients on how to manage money and save for buying a home. He is also working on a program that would train people for the construction trades given there is a growing shortage of such skills plus the jobs available can provide decent wages needed to buy homes.
He was appointed in 2011 by then Mayor Willie Weatherford to the Planning Commission as an alternate to fill a vacancy when alternate Jeff Aksland resigned. He eventually was appointed as one of the five sitting members.
“I ran for council to (fill a desire) to serve the community,” Nuño said.
Nuño and his wife have two children — Max, 6, and Natalia, 4.
He is a car enthusiast and is a member of both the Manteca Chamber of Commerce and Manteca Rotary.
Nuño noted enjoying “family time” is his favorite way to relax.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com