By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Reyes roots run deep in Manteca
Manteca City Manager Elena Reyes shares her vision for the community. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Manteca City Manager Elena Reyes recalls her first day in the City Council chambers.

The council was going over plans for a new development. Reyes asked questions of the department heads, got answers that satisfied her, re-examined the plans before her and the project was approved.

That was 32 years ago when Reyes was an East Union High senior. She had been selected to serve as a council member as part of the  now defunct Youth in Government Day staged by the Manteca Rotary in partnership with the City of Manteca. Reyes was serving as East Union High’s student body secretary at the time.

“I knew in high school that I wanted to go into public service,” Reyes said Friday, a month after starting work as Manteca’s city manager.

Reyes up until last month was the Senior Deputy San Joaquin County Administrator in charge of economic promotion and development. Prior to that, she was heavily involved in cobbling together the county’s budgets. Reyes has also working experience as part of the county management team for a number of issues key to Manteca’s future such as Senate Bill 5 and flood protection and the county’s battle to stop the Twin Tunnels.

She also played a key county role in working to secure the Veterans Administration medical complex that includes a 120-bed nursing facility that is being built in French Camp.

“My brother is going to be using the VA facility and so are my co-workers and my neighbors,” Reyes said of why. 

Reyes said it wasn’t a desire to be a city manager to apply for the job but rather be the city manager of Manteca. 


Reyes wants Manteca

to be second to none

“Manteca is my city, this is my home,” Reyes said.

And it’s a home that she wants to be “second to none.”

Reyes believes Manteca — instead of simply riding growth — can drive growth to enhance the community in terms of economic strength, amenities, and quality of life.

The city manager intends to help steer Manteca toward the next level by harnessing a key commodity — an educated and tech savvy workforce.

“They (the workers the Silicon Valley needs) are already here,” she said referencing the strong commuter base of families whose breadwinners work at places such as Livermore Lab, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, Facebook, Tesla, Google, and a host of other cutting edge firms.

And — as the Wall Street Journal pointed out last week — Manteca is positioned to get even more well-educated tech workers given growing demands for housing new workers tech industry needs, little developable land left in the Bay Area to build homes, as well as sky high home prices and rents.

As new homes are built and more tech workers move to Manteca, Reyes noted the city will become more attractive to tech employers.

“We already have the workforce here,” she said.

Manteca being in close proximity to the tech rich employment centers in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco plus playing a bigger role in housing tech workers squeezed out of the Bay Area market provide the city with drawing cards for future job and economic growth.

Toss in the ACE — Altamont Corridor Express — along with other transportation advantages and Reyes believes the stage is set “to make what makes Manteca a great place to live” even better.

Reyes said the best way for that to happen is for the city “to build a workforce that is second to none.”

She has been spending much of the past month meeting not just with department heads but the mid-managers and front-line workers that make the city work.


Impressed with

City of Manteca’s

current workforce

She’s impressed with the dedication and innovation that she already sees.

Reyes pointed to new initiatives such as converting food waste to gas to power garbage trucks to initiatives put in place decades ago that Manteca has successfully built upon such as the neighborhood park/storm retention basin concept that today has given Manteca 60 plus parks.

She added staff has taken it upon themselves to find ways to make things happen and keep costs down. She points to a recent air quality grant staff scored to help defray part of the city of the food waste conversion programs as well as other grants they have applied for to further reduce the upfront expenditures for Manteca taxpayers.

Reyes sees growth being harnessed d to bring new life to downtown.

“Downtown has to have a creamery,” Reyes said in reference to the iconic business that not only helped establish Manteca as a train stop but evolved over the years to be a major gathering spot for residents and travelers to enjoy fresh ice cream and other treats.

Reyes noted the importance of downtown and small businesses can’t be over-emphasized.

“Small businesses drive jobs and they drive innovation,” she said.

The city managed added that the city will also work toward adding amenities one expects in a growing city as well as working to keep the community safe.

Reyes is looking forward to giving back to the community that has meant so much to her.

Born in Tracy to parents that were farmworkers — Ramon and the late Trinidad Rivas — Reyes noted how East Union High teachers played a critical role in helping her on the path that has now lead to her being Manteca’s city’s manager. She also points out her father’s strong believe in the value of an education also was pivotal.

Summers as a high school student meant working in the fields to help support her family. When a summer internship came up that would allow her to work with many of the administrators at the Manteca Unified School District office, she approached her father about it.

“I told him I wouldn’t get paid but I would learn a lot,” she recalled.

Her father agreed.

Reyes said what she leaned that summer proved invaluable.

And when it came to going to college — something that was far from a given, she remembered that an East Union High teacher sat down with her father and convinced him she had the drive and ability to succeed. 

“People are great in Manteca,” Reyes said. “It is a great community. The city is growing and things are changing but we need to make sure we don’t lose what makes Manteca a great place to live.”