Folks who make their living tossing theories abound about human behavior generally define Millennials as those born between the 1980s and 2000s. Some define Millennials by those who were in their formative years or reached adulthood at the dawn of the 21st century.
By those definitions, Manteca Unified has three of its seven board members with their feet squarely planted in that demographic. Sam Fant, Ashley Drain, and Alexander Bronson are all in their early to mid 20s. There has never been a school board in the area that is as young as the one now overseeing the district that is educating 23,000 students and is by far the largest employer in Manteca.
Don’t go running out to buy books such as “The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation” or “Managing the Millennial” to figure out what motivates them or makes them tick.
They may indeed be “the” younger generation to most adults but simply being raised in the Internet Age is not what shaped the political sensibilities and ambitions of Bronson, Fant, and Drain.
If any book reading is in order, Machiavelli’s book “The Prince” with special attention paid to chapters six through nine would be more apropos. Some motives are as old as politics itself.
All three — like anyone else whether they are 15 or 85 — were shaped first and foremost by their parents and those that mentored them.
And don’t toss about how they are still young and learning. Only those who are fools ever believe you live to an age where you can stop learning although some of us like to smugly think we can. Nor assume that their style lacks maturity or sharpness that supposedly comes with age and experience.
The simple truth is they are from Uranus and the rest of the board is from Pluto.
It is much like the metaphor that women are from Venus and men are from Mars. Fant, Bronson, and Drain are from “different planets” in a metaphorical sense compared to the other four trustees — Evelyn Moore, Nancy Teicheira, Michael Seeyle, and Debbie Romero.
While there are common needs and fears everywhere, to ignore that having grown up and lived in the world that is Stockton is not somewhat different than Manteca or Lathrop ignores reality. That doesn’t mean there is a wide chasm between those from one community and another. It’s just that how you view day-to-day issues and how you go about changing things are influenced by your immediate environment.
Some view the fact that the both of the three crossed in one way or another in Stockton as part of a conspiracy theory. It is more a case of from a young age all three were aggressively engaged in their community working to better it whether as a volunteer at the Stockton Boys & Girls Club or intervening on behalf of kids who they feel were being marginalized.
We do not know much about Bronson. He prefers a Calvin Coolidge approach keeping his cards close to his chest. It may have something to do with the cloud that hangs over both his head and that of Drain’s in regards to questions raised over their residency status at the time they filed. But in doing so he comes across as someone who doesn’t like to engage which doesn’t bode well from someone who may have healthy political ambitions.
If you don’t think Fant one day doesn’t harbor dreams of serving on the Stockton City Council or in a higher office, then you certainly haven’t taken a close look at the impressive resume he has compiled as 26-year-old.
By the way, don’t assume just because someone is politically ambitious that they are only looking out for themselves. The road to political office is lined with a lot of good deeds and folks going to bat for the hurting, down trodden, frustrated, and wronged. All in all, it can be a fairly noble course although those who oppose their policy objectives would stridently disagree.
Drain is perhaps the most transparent elected official you will ever meet. She minces no words when it comes to telling you where she stands. She’s passionate about kids. That’s probably the case for each and every board member but Drain’s experience probably dictates that if you don’t speak up loud enough to be heard that kids will get lost in an educational bureaucracy.
I don’t profess to be an expert when it comes to Fant, Drain, or Bronson — not by a long shot.
I do know firsthand the mistake people can make by assuming years on a calendar and the era that you came of age somehow gives everyone an insight on how to respond to you in an elected position.
I was 19 when I was elected to the Western Placer Unified School District board in Lincoln. Since it was the 1970s and I had hair that actually touched my collar, the superintendent and the other four board members assumed I was liberal through and through. Within a couple of months there were times after votes where another trustee was shocked at how I voted on a specific issue, saying they didn’t think I was conservative.
It has nothing to do with age. The sooner everyone understands that and responds appropriately the less chance of anything going seriously sideways in the Manteca Unified School District.
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 email@example.com or 209.249.3519.