LATHROP – Vice Mayor Christopher Mateo is ready to take his fight to Sacramento.
The typically reserved and soft-spoken retired postal worker announced at the end of Monday’s Lathrop City Council meeting that he had filed the necessary paperwork to declare himself as a Democratic candidate in the race for California’s 12th Assembly District.
Lathrop is on the western edge of the new district which stretches to the eastern side of Oakdale and south along the eastern edge of Modesto. It includes the towns of Riverbank, Empire, Hughson and Denair, and moving north along the western border of Stockton it wraps through Linden and Morada and ends just north of Lockeford.
Manteca, Ripon, Escalon and Waterford all sit safely in the heart of the boundaries.
While he enjoys his position on the Lathrop City Council, it was the broadening of his political horizons that his position on the council afforded him that helped give him the confidence needed to formally declare his candidacy for a race that – because of the redistricting – is completely up in the air.
“There are a lot of issues at that level that I’d like to address, and it’s something that I’ve been following and looking into,” Mateo said. “Basically it boils down to the five E’s for me – education, economy, employment, environment and energy. And I think that the time that I spent on this council working with people – being level headed, a team player – will translate in Sacramento.”
And even though he’s only in his third year as a local elected official, Mateo has been active since taking his oath and his seat on the dais.
He has served on the Board of Directors at the San Joaquin Council of Governments – the agency that deals with major transportation issues throughout San Joaquin County and distributes the money generated from the half-cent Measure K sales-tax – and sat on the local Water Advisory Board. And he got everything he could out of the California Civic Leadership Institute Conference held by the League of California Cities, something that is often overlooked by elected leaders.
But the question that remains is which of the incumbents that had portions of their previous district included in the newly drawn 12th District will make a run for that seat?
Assembly member Cathleen Galgiani – who currently represents the 17th District which includes Lathrop and stretches down to Merced – has declared her intention to run for the newly drawn 5th Senate District which encompasses all of San Joaquin County and a portion of Modesto.
That leaves 10th District Assembly member Allison Huber – who has a small portion of what will be the northern end of the new 12th District – and Bill Berryhill, who serves the sprawling 26th Assembly District that will mostly be swallowed up when the new lines take effect in the next election.
Given the fact that he just filed the preliminary paperwork to run for the office, Mateo’s campaign isn’t even yet in the infancy stage. He says he’s still working with his web designer to get his page up on the Internet as soon as possible, and plans to start working with people to come up with the strategy that he hopes will get him elected.
But he’s gearing up to tackle the challenges that face the people of the San Joaquin Valley. It is a place he has called home since he moved to Lathrop from San Jose in 2007. And with a degree in economics from San Jose State, Mateo thinks he might have a leg up on other possible members of the legislature that need to learn how to read, study and understand budgets and municipal finance.
“I’ve got the knowledge and I can go into the issues that are affecting the people of this area,” Mateo said. “I think that I can work well with people and think that I can represent the ideals of the residents. It’s time to tackle these issues in California.”