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Nine vying for Manteca Planning Commission
May have political ovrtures

For decades, the Manteca Planning Commission wasn’t used as a stepping stone to the City Council.

You would have to go back prior to 1990 to find anyone who served first on the planning commission before getting elected to the City Council.

That all changed in 2014. Since then three planning commissioners have been elected to the City Council, two others staged unsuccessful council campaigns and the mayor is now a former City of Manteca planner.

Mike Morowit was elected in 2014, Gary Singh in 2016 and Jose Nuno this year. Eric Hayes and Jeff Zellner — who have two more years to serve of their current four-year terms on the commission — also ran for council. And Cantu, a city planner for more than 30 years, is now Manteca’s mayor.

The reality that the Planning Commission has now become a launching pad for the City Council plus the fact one of the hopefuls for three vacancies and the open alternate position is David Cushman — an unsuccessful council candidate in 2016 that helped engineer Cantu’s election in November — has created political overtures for the appointment process. It takes place during Tuesday’s 7 p.m. council meeting at the Civic Center council chambers, 1001 W. Center St.

The terms of Roberto Alaniz, Leonard Smith, and Nuno are expiring as well as that of alternate Ron Laffranchi.

There are nine applicants.

*Amarjit “Amanda” Dhaliwal works as a bank manager for BBVA Compass. Dhaliwal has been a Manteca resident for 10 years, served on the Measure M public safety tax oversight committee for the city and is an active volunteer in the Punjabi American Association of Manteca. She is also a past member of the Give Every Child a Chance board.

*Barron Gonsalves is an area manager for business development for Performance Group. Gonsalves has 12 years of experience with food service distribution. He has served as a phone bank organizer for a congressional candidate, was a regional captain for a presidential candidate and handled the job of county captain for a governor’s campaign.

*David Cushman works on campaigns for a living. The Manteca native has been involved in the Helping Hands Ministry at Cornerstone Church for 17 years and was chairman of the Manteca Tea Party from 2014-2016. He has served as a member of the Manteca Noon Kiwanis Club and as a Manteca Historical Society docent.

*Geraldine Williams is an elementary teacher with the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

*Leonard Smith is retired after working 36 years in various public works departments in the Bay Area. He has served on the planning commission for the past eight years.

* Parminder Singh Sahi works for Western Digital (formerly an IBM company) in San Jose for 22 years. A 10-year Manteca resident, he is serving on the General Plan update committee and is an alternate commission for the Manteca Parks & Recreation Commission. His community endeavors include the Cpl. Charles Palmer II Memorial Troop Support Program, United Way, Sikhs of Manteca, Sikhs for Humanity, and a number of other events and organizations. He was the recipient of the Manteca Chamber of Commerce Mabel Brocchini Community Service Award in 2018.

*Richard Silverman is retired after serving 32 years as an IT manager for Pacific Bell/AT&T. He stepped down this month as a City Council member after opting not to run for a second term. He has served on the City of Manteca public safety tax oversight committee and has been a volunteer with the Community Emergency Response Team and the Manteca Fire Department Seniors Aiding Fire Effort since 2007. He is a member of the Sunrise Kiwanis and serves as treasurer for the American Legion Post 249 Foundation. He was a reserve police officer in Concord for 14 years and also served four years on the Concord Community Services Commission and four years on the Concord Redevelopment Advisory Commission.

*Ron Laffranchi is employed in the real estate field as he owns Fairway Financial MTG & Real Estate. He is the current alternate for the Planning Commission as well as the current president of the Valley Oak Residential Treatment Program and past president of HOPE Ministries. He serves on The Friends of the Manteca Parks & Recreation Department board as well as on the Economic Development Committee for the City of Manteca. He is also a member of Manteca Rotary. He also served in the City of Manteca Water Conservation Citizens Committee.

*Stephanie Kong is a civil engineer with O’Dell Engineering. Kong has worked for the San Joaquin Council of Governments, the Mountain House Community Services District, San Joaquin County and various private engineering firms.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email