Arguably the biggest election since Manteca Union High School along with various feeder elementary school districts were joined together as a unified district 50 years ago takes place Nov. 8.
That’s when five of the district’s seven trustees not only are up for re-election due to two of them replacing board members that resigned months into the first year of four-year terms , but it will mark the first time trustees are elected only by voters in the areas they represent instead of districtwide.
It is also the first election since two essentially unknown candidates that did little or no campaigning— Ashley Drain and Alexander Bronson — stunned two incumbents. On the same ballot was the Measure G bond that was approved as well as the measure to say yea or nay to area elections. The election took place as the district was preparing to roll out its $30 million Going Digital initiative.
Within weeks of her election, Drain thrust herself into several controversies regarding school district personnel. Ultimately a Secretary of State investigation led the San Joaquin County District Attorney to file charges for election fraud against Drain and Bronson contending they were not legal residents of the areas they sought to represent at the time they were running. Both subsequently resigned.
Adding an unusual touch to the upcoming election is the fact the Manteca Educators Association interviewed candidates for endorsement last week some three months before filing for the positons even opens. That means the MEA interviewed incumbents and those they are aware who are pondering a run. If others wait until the filing period opens to make it known they’re running, they would do so after the MEA — that represents the biggest block of individuals that have a financial stake in board decisions — have made their endorsements. It would also mean that if there is another Drain or Bronson out there that catches fire with the voting public and meet all the legal requirements, they wouldn’t have run the MEA endorsement gauntlet.
The switch to area elections means candidates won’t have to convince all of the district’s voters that they are the best candidate. And by not having to run districtwide, it may end up being less intimidating to run and bring out more hopefuls than there have been in recent elections.
Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer noted that since the board opted to appoint replacements for Drain and Bronson election officials have indicated those seats will be by area voting as well and not revert back to districtwide voting as would have happened if a recall election was held. Drain and Bronson were elected districtwide on the same ballot voters approved of area only voting in future elections.
Trustee terms up in November are San Fant (Area 1), Kathy Howe who was appointed to replace Drain (Area 2) Michael Seeyle (Area 3), Stephen Schluer who was appointed to replace Bronson (Area 6) and Debroah Romero (Area 7).
The terms of Nancy Teicheira (Area 4) and Evelyn Moore (Area 5) end in November of 2018.
The boundaries of the five areas that have board seats up for grabs are as follows:
uAREA 1: All of Weston Ranch with the exception of a strip immediately west of Weston Ranch High and south of Henry Long Boulevard.
AREA 2: The strip described above in Weston Ranch, Lathrop north of Lathrop Road to Interstate 5 then west of I-5 to Louise Avenue and then westward toward the river before curving to the northwest. Lathrop High is physically in Area 2 as is Manteca north of Lathrop Road to Highway 99. French Camp is part of Area 2 as is everything from the river to the west to a point east of Prescott Road that is north of French Camp Road, west of Austin Road, and north of Northland Road.
AREA 3: It includes all of Manteca east of Highway 99 to the eastern edge of the school district, north to Area 2 and south to the district’s southern boundary. It also includes the triangle bounded by North Main, Louise Avenue, and Highway 99 as well as the triangle bounded by Cottage Avenue Highway 99 and Yosemite Avenue plus south of the 120 Bypass to Main Street and then everything east of Main Street in South Manteca.
AREA 6: It is bounded on the north by Lathrop Road starting east of London Avenue (essentially excluding Chadwick Square) , North Main Street on the east to Louise Avenue, north of Louise Avenue to Union Road then south to Yosemite Avenue. Everything north of Yosemite Avenue from Union to Airport Way is in Area 6 except Chadwick Square.
AREA 7: It includes Chadwick Square in northwest Manteca, everything in Lathrop and Manteca south of Lathrop Road, west of I-5, east of Airport Way, and north of the non-existent extension of Peach Avenue west to the river.