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Supervisor hopefuls: SSJID bid dragging on
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Russ Munson is never one to be late.

But not even the Lodi businessman could anticipate the after 5 p.m. traffic woes along southbound Highway 99 between Manteca and Ripon.

If elected to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors’ District 4 seat, Munson, who arrived late to Tuesday’s Candidates Forum sponsored by the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, would like nothing more but to fix this South County problem.

“I move around and I’m always on time,” he said. “I’m very efficient with my time.”

Munson is running against Ripon Mayor Chuck Winn, who is bidding adieu to the Ripon City Council after 12 years.

Mike Restuccia also served on the Ripon City Council for 12 years, taking a six-year hiatus but now seeks a return to the post. He and incumbent Dean Uecker were part of the forum. The November ballot also includes educator Shane Smith, who withdrew from the race for the two available positions but too late to withdraw his name.

Because of that, Restuccia and Uecker have been active with their campaigns.

The forum included Jeff Tilton, who raised his family in Ripon – his children attended Ripon Unified schools. He’s running for the Superintendent of Schools on a grass-roots effort campaign against James Mousalimas, who has a long list of endorsements. Included are former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, former county Superintendent of Schools Rick Wentworth, and Sheriff Steve Moore.

As for Tilton, he indicated that his support comes from regular folks within San Joaquin County.

Both believe that the position – 54 of the 58 county superintendents in the state are elected to the seat – should be one of leadership. Both believe that the jury is still out on the Common Core State Standard Initiative.

“We won’t know the effectiveness for another three years,” said Tilton, who is Superintendent of Charter Schools at the New Jerusalem School District.

He attended Manteca Unified schools and, at one point, was happy to teach English and coach football at Manteca High.

But Tilton decided to go into education administration, moving over to the San Joaquin County Office of Education where he and current Superintendents of Schools Mick Founts founded the community schools better known as the one.program.

Tilton later went on to Stanislaus County, where he was able to breathe new life into the Modesto charter schools. 

Mousalimas is Deputy Superintendent at SJCOE. Prior to that, he was at Tracy Unified, where he held several titles including Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.

Munson, meanwhile, is in the real estate development business. He was one of the co-founders of Wine & Roses Hotel, Restaurant and Spa in Lodi.

“I know what it’s like to take risk,” Munson said. “I feel confident and dedicated to do a great job for San Joaquin County.”

Winn, who spent 37 years with the California Highway Patrol, was introduced to Ripon politics in the late 1990s. Restuccia, who was in his first go-around on the Ripon City Council, recommended his appointment to the Planning Commission.

He was voted to the Council in 2002 and served on various county committees including San Joaquin Council of Governments and Local Agency Formation Commission.

Winn and Munson agreed that the possibility of South San Joaquin Irrigation District replacing Pacific Gas & Electric has been dragging on too long.

“Research, cost and litigation – Five years has been more than enough time to make a decision,” said Winn.

Both listed their two important traits to being an effective leader.

“Integrity and commitment to the job,” Munson said.

Winn also listed integrity along with leadership. “(Leadership) allows you to take an issue or project and move forward with it,” he said.

In addition, they were both against the high-speed rail system and questioned public transportation.

“I know (plans call it) to connect with Altamont Commuter Express trains. But I would have rather see us get connected with BART,” Munson said.

Winn noted that the high-speed rail is an expensive endeavor – “It’s never the original figure but always quadrupled,” he said – and not practical when it comes to paying the fare for the entire family.

“This is 18th century technology. This is the same system that will need replacing in 20 years,” said Winn.