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City leaders hope to make Manteca whole
The countys proposed redistricting would actually put Manteca in three districts with the Austin Road Business Park annexation being represented by the same supervisor who represents Lodi. T - photo by RYAN BALBUENA

STOCKTON – Color Manteca salmon.

That’s what Manteca’s elected officials and local business leaders were jockeying for Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to end Manteca’s status as a divided city when it comes to representation on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.

And they have a plan to stay within the pink that differs from the outline that San Joaquin County planners are proposing when it comes to redrawing the lines of the five supervisorial districts based on 2010 census data.

Currently Manteca is represented by Area 3 Supervisor Steve Bestolarides and Area 5 Supervisor Leroy Ornellas. The county’s proposed redistricting map would put the northern portion of the community in the area of District 1 Supervisor Carlos Villapudua, the southern portion of the community in Bestolarides’ district, and the southeastern tip of the city - the area annexed as part of the Austin Road Business Park - in the area of District 4 Supervisor Ken Vogel out of Lodi.

Under the map that political consultant Don Parsons submitted to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, all of Manteca would fall into Villapudua’s district.

Bill Filios of AKF Development – the firm that built Spreckels Park and had a hand in bringing  Del Webb and Bass Pro Shops to the community and is one of the Austin Road Business Park principals – stressed the importance of sole representation on the board.

“This is not going to be an easy task, but this is something we feel needs to be done,” Filios said. “Every other speaker has said the same thing – that Manteca needs to be made whole. I know that this isn’t an easy task but we ask that you consider us when you’re making your decision over the course of the next month.”

Manteca is the only city that’s split in half in the county when it comes to board representation. Stockton currently has two supervisors and shares a third with Lathrop and  Manteca. Manteca has been split for the past 20 years.

Manteca leaders are pitching a plan to supervisors that would make Manteca whole and place it in a district represented by Supervisor Villapudua with a large swath of Stockton up to roughly Fremont Avenue including downtown Stockton The plan would combine Tracy, Ripon, and Escalon into the Fifth District currently represented by Leroy Ornellas. Lathrop would still be represented by Steve Bestolarides. The county proposal puts Ripon into the same district as Lodi.

Ornellas now represents parts of Manteca south of Yosemite and east of Main Street as well as Ripon while Bestolarides represents the remaining portions of Manteca.

Supervisor Leroy Ornellas, who is slated to lose all or part of his portion of Manteca if either of the two proposed maps are adopted as the final selection, said that he’s not looking forward to the day when he won’t be representing the interests of Manteca residents on the board anymore.

“Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think about the communities in my district,” he said. “It’s difficult for me to lose a community where the voters have been so good to me. It’s painful for me to lose the part of Manteca that I lose, but I understand that Manteca wants to be made whole. I understand that,” Ornellas said.

Villapudua, who represents a district that includes South Stockton, said that he understands his district is a difficult one and noted that he looks forward to facing the challenges that will come before him in the future. He added that just because he doesn’t currently represent Manteca that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have concerns about how things turn out for the growing city.

A community meeting will be held tonight at the San Joaquin County Agricultural Center, located at 2101 East Earhart Avenue in Stockton, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the redistricting plan and to take input from the public regarding what they would like to see addressed when the plan becomes finalized.

An additional meeting will be held on Thursday, June 16 at Mickey Grove Memorial Building located at 11793 North Mickey Grove Road in Lodi. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.