WESTON RANCH – A fiscally healthy Manteca Unified School District and an open communication all around are the two major reasons Alison Ordner threw her hat into the three-way election Area 1 race.
The novice politician – this is her first foray into elected office – describes herself as a wife, the mother of four boys ages 7, 9, 11 and 14 and a small-business owner.
It was a friend who suggested that she run for the position that is being vacated by Trustee Rex Holiday who decided not to run for re-election when his term expires in November. She discussed it with her husband, and was surprised at his reaction.
“I thought he would laugh and he didn’t,” Ordner recalled.
As parents, she said, “we’re always doing stuff for the boys at school. We believe that as parents, we’re our children’s advocate.”
But she did not jump into a decision right away. She gave it a lot of thought while, at the same time, speaking with a lot of other people.
“And you know what, there are so many children out there whose parents don’t have a voice that I have or are afraid to use it,” an issue that goes along with her concern about keeping an open communication between “parents, student groups, teachers, principals, vice principals and beyond,” said Ordner.
“I want to make sure we can keep those (communication lines) open,” she said, and to make sure that parents’ concerns are received not just with open ears but with open hearts and a genuine desire to help them.
As far as the school budget goes, Ordner said, “I’m very concerned that they don’t cut things from the children, and I know that’s difficult to say. I budget here at the house. For 17 years, I’ve tried to make sure we have enough for everything. But we’re talking large scale.”
Says she is a fund raiser at heart
She and the other candidates have had the opportunity to look over the budget provided by administration officials, who also sat and explained related issues with them. And she’s starting to understand all that, Ordner said.
As a parent, she has been impacted by those issues at her children’s schools such as when teachers run out of paper supplies and other things that they need to teach the students.
“I’m a fund-raiser at heart. I’ve always looked to ways that we can earn money to keep things going. I like to think that we can get things going, that we can get community support,” she said.
Two years ago, for example, she helped out with a car raffle held by the San Joaquin County Office of Education to send fifth graders to science camp, or outdoor education, “so that my son could go.” She stepped up to the plate and chaired the fund-raising effort “just on our site, because I believed in it,” she said.
“I know that there’s going to be parts of this job that not going to be fun. But I can handle it. I’m strong,” said Ordner who teaches swimming during the summer at her home. This summer, she celebrated the 10th anniversary of her home business which has a business permit from the City of Stockton.
Ordner swam competitively for nine years with the United States Swimming Association. She swam in high school and while she was at Chabot College in Hayward where she studied journalism and photography. From Chabot, she went on to the University of California at Hayward, now East Bay where she majored in business. That’s when she decided that “commercial recreation was for me.”
Besides running her own business, Ordner also helps out at her brother’s automotive business in the Bay Area which was started by their father. She works there two days a week.
The rest of her time during the week, she can be seen pounding the pavement around neighborhoods, campaigning and saying “hello” to people.
“I have been walking the neighborhoods. I went out last Saturday and actually got so exhausted I had to come in because it was so hot,” she said.
The experience has been an eye-opener. “People were very receptive,” she said. Some were actually surprised to see a candidate who is actually walking and knocking their doors in person and would say, “Oh, my gosh! I like this! This is the old-fashioned Way.”
By now, many people have become familiar with a white bicycle with black polka dots and pink wheels. That has been her campaign “train” – or bike, if you will.
“My husband bought it for me on my last birthday. It has a basket in front, and I put a sign on each side behind me. My Number 3 son and I rode our bikes all around French Camp with me on Sunday. You got to make it fun, too,” Ordner said with a little laugh.
Area 1 of the school district is bordered by French Camp sough to the north, Manila Road to the south, east at McKinley Avenue – but not including French Camp School – to Roth Road. Trustee candidates, however, are elected at large by all voters and, once elected, represent all areas of the school district as a trustee.
Moved to Weston Ranch 17 years ago after getting married
Ordner and her family moved to Weston Ranch from the Bay Area 17 years ago just a few days after she and her husband, a machinist-electrician in Dublin, got married. After looking around Livermore and Tracy for a house that they could afford, they settled on Weston Ranch with the help of her husband’s GI Bill. Albert is a Navy Veteran and fought in the first Persian Gulf War in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. He was aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln for three-and-a-half years. As a Navy man, he was also involved in rescuing victims of Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines.
“He had to give up his bed for the people and the kids,” while rescuing animals that included dogs and goats as well as chickens, Ordner recalled.
“That was before I met him. We met 20 years ago,” she said.
The other reason they decided to buy a home in Weston Ranch – her brother already purchased one there earlier. “And the homes and lots were so much bigger” than those in Livermore and Tracy, Ordner said.
Ordner can be reached via e-mail at ORDNER4MUSD-TRUSTEE@COMCAST.NET.