The Manteca Unified School District Board of Education hasn’t agreed on much lately.
But they agreed on Stephen Schluer being the board’s next trustee.
In a unanimous first vote Tuesday, Schluer – one of four candidates petitioning to serve out the next 18-months of the term vacated by Alexander Bronson – was picked not only for his experience as a past Manteca Police Department School Resource Officer, but because of his calm demeanor and desire to help fix what is perceived to be a fractured board.
“Your peace is so necessary,” trustee Ashley Drain said to Schluer in a touching moment just before the ballots were distributed. “I appreciate your ability to stay calm.”
The board spent nearly two hours interviewing the four applicants – Tracy Fire Captain Franco Torrice, retired Manteca land use planner Ben Cantu, criminal investigator and football coach Jim Anderson and Schluer – before a packed house at the Manteca Unified district office, giving each board member the chance to ask multiple questions of each.
Schluer, who is currently assigned as the Manteca Police detective dealing with child abuse and sexual assault, impressed the board with his past experience, and even won over some of his fellow applicants.
Former Sherriff’s Deputy and criminal investigator Jim Anderson, who kept the room in stitches for most of the night with his gregarious personality, dedicated a portion of his closing statement by informing everybody in attendance that if the four men were facing an election rather than an appointment, he would endorse Schluer for the position.
“I had originally pondered running during the last election but I didn’t want to go against Don Scholl,” Schluer said during a brief break before taking his position on the dais. “I had to do my homework, but I’ve attended meetings and met with people and did what I thought was necessary to give me the best chance to be appointed – even though I’m going to have to run in a year anyway.
“I’m happy and I’m pleased to get the opportunity to work for the betterment of children.”
Schluer said that he had initially anticipated that the position would be up for election, rather than appointment, and had already taken the steps to form a committee and contact a political consultant to help with some of the details.
That dedication won over Trustee Sam Fant who thanked all of the applicants but noted that the steps Schluer took in preparation showed a sense of somebody ready to tackle the position head-on.
“This is difficult because we’re talking out here and I think that this could go for any one of you guys, but I think that Mr. Schluer went the extra mile to open a committee and was ready to run for the office – I think that myself and trustee Drain were the only ones to run in the election – and it’s not easy.
“You have to have a strong conviction and will be able to deal with the stress that comes along with it, and the fact that Mr. Schluer was prepared for whether we did the appointment process or not gave him the better edge.”
While Bronson vacated his term just several months in, Schluer will have to stand for election in November of 2016 in order to secure the remaining two years of the four year term.
And he’s going to have some company.
Each of the four candidates – which was originally five before Jeremy Hannon had to recuse himself because of a possible conflict of interest with his job at Bank of America – said in one of their questions that they’d be willing to run in the next election for the remaining portion of the term.