Manteca city voters on Nov. 8 will get to do something that Modesto voters no longer can — vote to fill all council seats that are up for election.
Modesto in 2009 shifted from at-large elections to district elections to settle a lawsuit filed over complaints that Voting Rights Acts at either the state or federal levels were being violated. In Modesto’s case the complaint centered on minorities being underrepresented.
Manteca City Manager Karen McLaughlin noted the switch from at-large to district elections is typically “done for the purpose of addressing racial discrimination that leads to minority groups having less opportunity to participate in the electoral process and elect representatives of their choice.”
Other reasons that have been used at the ballot box in California to end at-large elections are in cases where council members may be heavily concentrated in a specific area of a city.
Manteca Unified School District voters two years ago opted to end at-large election in favor of area voting instead. The November election marks the first time since the district was unified 50 years ago that voters won’t be able to vote for trustees to serve on the board outside of the area they live in.
The two positions up on the City Council on Nov. 8 are currently held by Vince Hernandez and Debbie Moorhead.
Hernandez — the only minority as defined by the Voting Rights Act currently on the council — is not seeking re-election.
Declared candidates so far besides Moorhead are Gary Singh, Ben Cantu, Jeff Zellner, and David Cushman.
Filing for the election runs from Monday, July 18, through Friday, Aug. 12. Candidates must reside within the city limits. Last election a Lathrop resident initially took papers out to run but did not file them when it was determined he did not meet the residency requirements.
McLaughlin said the bottom line for the city is compliance with the law.
“We as a city must be constantly vigilant to see that voters’ rights, and the right to vote, are protected, and that we are in compliance with the State and Federal Voting Acts,” McLaughlin said.
filing nearing as well
Five of Manteca Unified School 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.
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.
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 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.
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 as strip immediately west of Weston High and south of Henry Long Boulevard.
uAREA 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 in 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.
uAREA 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.
uAREA 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.
uAREA 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.
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