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Council race tightens; Cantu widen lead to 437 votes in mayor’s race
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Now incumbent Mike Morowit may be in jeopardy of not securing a second term on the Manteca City Council.

The latest update on counting a backlog of mail-in ballots on Tuesday saw newcomer Jose Nuno reduce the votes separating him from Morowit  to 138.  Morowit’s lead over Nuno has been on a downward trend since the initial count after the polls closed on Election Day.  Initially Morowit led by 341 votes. On Friday the updated count reduced his lead to 324 votes. He gained some of his lead back on Sunday when that day’s update gave him a 330 vote lead. His lead now stands at 138 votes.

Nuno serves on the Manteca Planning Commission.

Meanwhile retired Manteca Fire captain and Parks and Recreation Commission member David Breitenbucher has increased his lead over Morowit to 337 votes. He led Morowit in the initial count last week by 221 votes.

The two highest vote getters will secure four-year council seats.

The fourth candidate — Chris Silva — is now 1,458 votes behind Nuno.

Ben Cantu who was leading incumbent Mayor Steve DeBrum after Sunday’s count by 127 votes widened his lead to 427 votes in Tuesday’s count that was at 9,005 for Cantu and 8,578 for DeBrum. Cantu led DeBrum after the first count by 126 votes, then by 127 votes on Friday. That lead slipped to 116 votes on Sunday.

Both Cantu and DeBrum on Tuesday after the latest count was posted took a wait and see attitude.

“The tide is shifting,” Cantu said before noting there may still be thousands of ballots left to count.

“I’m optimistic but it is still too soon to call,” Cantu said.

The latest round of vote counting by the San Joaquin County Elections Department included 3,959 ballots from Manteca. That brings the number of Manteca ballots counted to date to 17,608. Manteca had 39,149 registered voters going into the election.

If Manteca’s actual voter turnout reflected other areas in the county and Stanislaus County that was part of the hotly contest 10th District Congressional race and was between 50 and 60 percentage, that means between 19,570 and 23,484 votes were cast in Manteca.

If that is in the ballpark that means there would be between 1,887 and 5,801 votes left to count. 

Should voters turn out both incumbents it will be the first time in at least 40 years that has happened in races where all Manteca City Council incumbents opted to seek re-election.

 The next official semifinal update to the election returns is expected to post Friday, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m. The elections department could, however, post numbers sooner. The next scheduled times for posting updated counts are Monday, Nov. 19 at 5 p.m., and Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. The registrar has posted a goal to have all vote-by-mail ballots counted by Monday Nov. 26 and most provisional ballots counted by Wednesday, Nov. 28 – posting the results of each at 5 p.m. on those respective days.  

The San Joaquin County Elections Department is struggling with a massive surge of mail-in votes as well as those dropped off at polling places on Election Day leaving 92,700 votes left to count after the in-person Election Day counting and those mail-in ballots received early enough to verify signatures so they could be counted after the polls closed.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email