Although Ken Vogel represents the Lodi area on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, a Stockton supervisor may have as many ties to Lodi as Vogel.
North Stockton resident Steve Bestolarides grew up on Lodi's Eastside and maintains his fondness for the community.
The son of a Greek immigrant mother and a father born in Wisconsin but with strong Greek ties as well, Bestolarides didn't learn English until he attended kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary School. But he and his brothers learned English pretty quickly.
"We assimilated really well because we were immersed in English," Bestolarides said.
Due to the language barrier as a child, Bestolarides said he became proficient at math, leading to his reputation as a supreme bean counter on the Board of Supervisors.
"We need a good financial wizard like him," said Denise Warmerdam, Vogel's legislative assistant.
Bestolarides, 53, was a banker and real estate broker before being elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2008.
"It is, by far, the best job I've ever had in my life," Bestolarides said of being a county supervisor. "I love going to work."
Unlike city council members, being a county supervisor is a full-time job, allowing for more continuity with county staff and fellow supervisors.
"It's nice working in a respectful environment," he said.
Bestolarides began his political career in 1995, when then-Stockton City Councilwoman Ann Johnston, now the city's mayor, appointed him to the Planning Commission. He wasn't seeking the position, but Johnston asked him to consider it. She chose him over three other applicants. Bestolarides was elected to the Stockton City Council after Johnston termed out in 2002, and re-elected four years later.
Bestolarides said he may very well have stayed in Lodi after getting married in the 1980s, but he and his wife moved to Stockton because the identical style house sold for $20,000 less, which in those days constituted a mortgage payment that was $250 a month lower, he said.
Bestolarides spent his childhood walking around Downtown Lodi, where many people either knew him or his parents. He'd walk from his home in the 500 block of East Pine Street to the public library. The old library is now Carnegie Forum, where Lodi City Council meetings are held.
"Lodi was a safe enough community that a 9-year-old could walk Downtown," Bestolarides said recently after a hefty lunch at his mother's house in Lodi. "I spent a lot of time there."
He and his three brothers worked at the family restaurant, The New Yorker, a 24-hour operation at 110 N. Cherokee Lane. His mother, Maria, would work a 12-hour shift, and his father, Harry, would work the next 12 hours.
Steve Bestolarides at a glanceBorn: April 25, 1956, at old Lodi Community Hospital on East Pine Street.
Raised: East Pine Street, between Garfield Street and Cherokee Lane.
Education: Lincoln School and Senior Elementary School. Attended Lodi High School for two years, then transferred to Tokay High School when it opened in 1972. Member of Tokay's second graduating class in 1974. Was student body president at Lincoln School and vice president at Tokay, and he competed on the wrestling team.
College: Attended San Joaquin Delta College; baccalaureate degree in business administration and master's in finance at University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Career: Banking at what is now Chase, working in real estate mortgages and later construction and development lending. Is a licensed real estate broker.
Political career: Appointed to Stockton Planning Commission by City Councilwoman Ann Johnston in 1995; won council seat in 2002 when Johnston termed out, and re-elected in 2006; elected to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors in 2008. Represents north Stockton, parts of the Delta, Lathrop and northern Manteca,
Family: Wife, Doreen; two sons, Danny, 20, and Paul, 17.
Source: Steve Bestolarides
The four boys would wash dishes, cook and wait tables. They waited on prominent Lodians as developers Alex Spanos and Angelo Tsakopoulos, trucking owners Frank Alegre and John Teresi, and former county Supervisor George Barber.
"It gave me confidence to work with adults," Bestolarides said. "That is what helped all of us kids."
Bestolarides was in the same Boy Scout troop with former Lodi Mayor and county Supervisor Jack Sieglock, and he made some extra money as a News-Sentinel carrier.
"He brings a lot of expertise on budgets, working with people and working with government," Supervisor Ken Vogel said. "I value very much his being on the board."
"He's a very straightforward person and doesn't bend for votes," Alegre said of Bestolarides. "He and I get along pretty good. Very honest, and he has principles."
So did Harry Bestolarides. He never ran for public office, but he wasn't shy about telling the Lodi City Council what he thought, Alegre said.
Bestolarides credits his parents for insisting that all four children to get a good education.
"I was a strict mother — very strict," Maria Bestolarides said. "I wanted all my kids to get a diploma."