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Singh, Halford in lead for 2 Manteca council seats
Singh Gary
Gary Singh

Manteca’s youngest council member could end up being its most experienced.

Based on returns as of 12:01 a.m. today incumbent Gary Singh was leading the five candidates seeking two council seats with 7,891 votes or 31.65 percent of those that had been counted.

Retired Manteca Police Chief Charlie Halford was in second with 6,497 votes (26.06%) followed by 12-year incumbent Debby Moorhead with 4,288 votes (17.20%). Registered nurse Fred Cunha was fourth with 3,645 votes (14.62%). David Martin had 2,562 votes (10.28%).

Countywide, 36.1 percent of all ballots sent out had been cast and counted. That reflects 132,099 ballots out of 365,839. While not all of the ballots sent to voters will have been cast, the elections department still has a number of ballots to count that were not cast in person on Tuesday.

It could take weeks until all of the ballots dropped off or mailed-in that were not included in Tuesday night’s tally to have their signatures verified and counted.

When Singh was elected in 2016 he was one of the youngest council members ever to serve in Manteca. Should he hold onto his substantial lead, he will start his second term in December at the age of 38. The next youngest council member is Jose Nuño who was elected along with David Breitenbucher in 2018.

Should Halford stay in the No. 2 spot as the count continues, that would knock Moorhead off the City Council. In doing so Singh with four years as an elected official would be the council member with the most experience.

Halford replacing Moorhead would also make the council an all-male body. It would also mean the majority of the council consists of former Manteca City employees. Halford is a retired police chief, Breitenbucher is a retired fire captain and Mayor Ben Cantu a retired planner. Three members also would be members of the Manteca Rotary Club — Halford, Singh, and Nuño.

Singh acknowledged he was “definitely pleased” with how the count was going.

“There is obviously a lot of work to be done for the city,” Singh said.

Halford said he felt the count was going well. He indicated that “we’ll see” where it ends up.

In the 2018 race as the count continued the lead changed hands twice between the No. 2 and No. 3 vote getters after the initial ballot counting results were released on Election Night.

“San Joaquin County was prepared for the remarkable turnout we have seen today,” Melinda Dubroff, San Joaquin County’s Registrar of Voters, said in a statement issued Tuesday after the polls closed. “This was a one-of-a-kind election, with the highest levels of voter participation, a global pandemic, a highly-anticipated presidential contest, federal, state, and local candidates competing for office, 12 statewide propositions, and six local measures around the county.”

As of Nov. 2, more than 180,000 voters submitted or cast their ballots (46 percent) in this election which surpassed the amount in the March 2020 Primary at 34 percent and is tracking to top the 2016 Presidential General Election at 68 percent. 

“We are happy to report things ran pretty well today as well as the days leading up to Election Day at our Voter Service Centers,” Dubroff said. “While steady lines formed at Voter Service Centers over the past few days, most everyone was patient, and our hundreds of volunteers and staff did a great job in serving the voters of San Joaquin County. “

The record turnout demonstrates the ease of voting through multiple voting channels in San Joaquin County, as well as the sheer excitement and determination by voters to ensure their ballots were cast and counted in the 2020 General Election. 

“We still have many more ballots to process, count and certify over the coming days and weeks,” she added. “We ask voters to be patient while every eligible ballot is counted and the votes are tallied. The election will not be over until the tasks of the canvass, the post-election audit and certification are complete.” 

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