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Showdown in 10th: Farmer vs. astronaut
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Control of Congress could hinge in part on two races that South County voters will help decide in today’s balloting.

One is the newly created 10th Congressional District that pits former astronaut and Democrat Jose Hernandez against farmer and Republican U.S. representative Jeff Denham. The other is the 9th District putting Democrat incumbent Jerry McNerney up against Republican Ricky Gill who - if elected - would turn the minimum age of 25 required to serve just before being sworn into office.

Voters in Manteca, Ripon, Tracy and Escalon along with all of Stanislaus County are in the 10th District. Denham moved north into Turlock after reappointment put him in the same district with another incumbent congressman while Hernandez moved to Manteca from Stockton to lay claim as a district resident. McNerney moved into the valley from Pleasanton after representing most of San Joaquin County for three terms in Congress.

Lathrop, Lodi and Stockton voters will cast ballots in the McNerney-Gill race along with a sliver of Sacramento County.

Both races have garnered national attention.

Outside money has flowed heavily into both campaigns flooding the Northern San Joaquin Valley with an influx of TV ads and mailers that are unprecedented based on previous elections.

Topping local races is the relatively low-key battle for two Manteca City Council seats being waged by incumbents Steve DeBrum and Debby Moorhead as well as challengers Ben Cantu and Sheila Raya.

A number of controversial statewide ballot issues are also generating interest today with Proposition 30 - the tax measure that would raise money to cover promised state funding in this current fiscal year -having a direct local impact. Failure to pass Proposition 30 would cost Manteca Unified School District $10 million in money the state has already budgeted for education. Ripon Unified would also lose funding for the current year as would every other school district in the state.

Prop. 30 also provides money to counties to help cover the cost of low-level offenders being pushed out of state prisons and into county jails.

Ripon Unified voters will also decide the fate of a $25 million bond measure. Lathrop voters are being asked to support a one cent jump in sales tax to fund city services.

The most controversial local race is that for Lathrop’s mayor’s post. Incumbent Chaka Santos is being challenged by Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal for a two-year term.

Ten people are running for two council seats in Lathrop. They are Balwant Singh, Steve Dresser, Martha Salcedo, Debbie Rock, Dan MacNeilage, Brent Maynor, Gary Hutchens, Paul Akinjo, Omar Khweiss, and Joey Ermitanio.

Rhodesia Ransom and Bob Elliott are competing for the District 5 seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors representing Manteca south of Yosemite Avenue, Tracy, and Mountain House.

Three are vying for the Manteca Unified School District Trustee Area One seat - generally Weston Ranch. They are Sam Fant, Alison Ordner, and Sharla Moore.

Seeking two seats on the Ripon City Council are Robbie Orlando, Leo Zuber, Garry Krebbs, Charlie Gay, Scott Lindsay, Jake Parks, and Red Nutt.

Running for the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District board are Tosh Isihara, Bennie Gatto, Manuel Medeiros, and Gloryanna Rhodes.

The only South San Joaquin Irrigation contest on the ballot is for Division 4 with incumbent Dale Kuil being challenged by Robert Geer.