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Cheap shots, ethnicity & the Manteca council race
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Let’s be very clear on one point: What you are about to read is not being uttered, whispered or blogged by any of the six candidates for the Manteca City Council.
Nor is there any reason to believe that more than a relatively small handful of people are placing credence in what might politely be called a myopic interpretation of the dynamics of the council race.
Gary Singh is not the candidate of the East Indian community. And more important the East Indian community as some chose to call Punjabi Americans that have been integrated into the fabric of the Central Valley for more than a century are as American as you get. They are farmers. They are small business owners. They are family-orientated. They are professionals. They have strong faith. They believe in America. And they never hesitate to help the community.
First, let’s get our facts straight. Punjabi American businessmen, independent truckers, professionals as well as the Punjabi American Association of Manteca have been significant donors to local municipal campaigns for more than a decade. In fact, if you group donations over $100 in every possible category in the 2012 election cycle Punjabi Americans were the heavy hitters contributing more campaign money than any other sub-group including the development community and farmers. No one was labeling Debby Moorhead back then as the East Indian community candidate.
Gary Singh is not only American born and a Manteca High graduate but he is an established real estate agent and a businessman who has served the public as a member of the Manteca Planning Commission.
The inference, of course, is that Punjabi Americans are somehow an outside group trying to take over.
Perhaps it’s my non-cosmopolitan Central Valley upbringing where my family roots go back five generations to 1846 that somehow blinds me to the inference that Punjabi Americans are not Californians let alone Americans.
I guess the Yuba-Sutter farmers that have raised some of the best peaches around among other things for more than 100 years and happen to have roots in the Punjabi region in northern South Asia have earned no creed as citizens. Funny how almost all were immigrants to this land had little to their name but a will to work and a desire to build a better life for their families. Who among us save Native Americans and immigrants of wealth can’t trace back in our family tree relatives that did the same whether they traveled from Europe, Africa, or Asia to reach these shores or migrated north from Latin America?
The East Indian community has no hidden agenda. It is very clear from their history in the Central Valley that their values and work ethic dovetail into others whose relatives left other areas in the world where nationalism, ethnicity, and culture were synonymous.
It may seem to some a tired line but it is true — American’s strength is when it is a true melting pot. That doesn’t mean abandoning culture to become non-descript. The reality is in places such as France you have to be French in the eyes of many to “really” be a French citizen.
That’s not the case in the United States. If it were, the only true Americans would be those who can trace their roots to the indigenous people that have roots that preceded the colonialization of the Americas.
In listening to the six candidates — and reading their answers to various questions — you will be hard-pressed to find anyone carrying water for any specific constituency. They are all driven by a desire to do the best for Manteca and its residents even if you don’t see eye-to-eye with them on each and every issue.
And if you take a closer look at Singh’s contributors a large chunk of them are from a sub-group that provides 80 percent of America’s jobs — small businesses.
Calling Singh the business community’s candidate would also be disingenuous.
Singh like the other candidates — Jeff Zellner, David Cushman, Ben Cantu, Eric Hayes, and Debby Moorhead — are far from one dimensional.
Like it or not it takes money to get your name out and make your pitch to a community of 75,000. What you don’t see any candidate’s financial support statements are the countless people who gave $99 or less or bought $20 tickets for fundraisers as state law doesn’t require it.
There may be a developer or a small business owner or two among those countless people but most are people who survive paycheck to paycheck or just a little bit better.
In the end it is “those people” — the blue collar and white collar workers as well as retirees to name a few — that will elect the next two Manteca City Council members and not campaign dollars that allow a candidate to be seen and heard.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.