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Hernandez outlines city successes since 2002

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Vince Hernandez is seeking a fourth term on the Manteca City Council in the Nov. 4 election.

Photo contributed/

POSTED August 20, 2014 12:28 a.m.

Target Bass Pro Shops. Twenty more parks including Big League Dreams, Woodward Park and the Spreckels Park BMX track. Del Webb at Woodbridge. Dryers Ice Cream. Ford Motor Company parts depot. The Yosemite Avenue/Highway 99 interchange. The Central Valley Cancer Center

Vince Hernandez rattles off the names of businesses, employers, municipal improvements and private sector investments that have happened in Manteca since 2002 as he drives his Prius through the streets of not just his hometown, but the community he came back to with his wife Risa 15 years ago when they decided to raise their own family.

The year 2002 is significant for that is when Hernandez first gained election to the Manteca City Council riding a campaign theme “Heal Our City” in reference to the non-stop political turmoil Manteca was going through. And, for the record, the mentioned accomplishments represent only  a small fraction of what the city has done during the past 12 years ranging from renovating the HOPE Family Shelter and building a state-of-the-art animal shelter to helping secure Costco and other businesses that have allowed people to do more of their shopping and dining in  town.

Tuesday’s windshield tour of 12 years of progress as he prepares for re-election, however, wasn’t a victory lap  of what has happened on his watch as a councilman. It was an abject demonstration of what can be done with innovation and how the city approaches growth.

“You can’t rest on your laurels,” Hernandez said as he pulled onto Moffat Boulevard where perhaps the starkest changes have occurred in the past 12 years.

It is a phrase that he has repeated both publicly and privately to city administers such as Bob Adams, Steve Pinkerton, and Karen McLaughlin. It is a philosophy that drives Hernandez.

But what also drives Hernandez is listening to the concerns and needs of people.

And when that is possible, he translates citizen concerns into city action.

On his left as he passed the Moffat Boulevard storm retention basin he talked about how residents in nearby Powers Tract — as well as citizens anywhere in Manteca — deserved the best that the city could offer.

A few years back former Public Works Director Mike Brinton wanted to keep the “temporary” storm basin as dirt and weeds enclosed by a fence.

Hernandez asked what Brinton meant by “temporary.” The reply was 15 to 20 years.

Hernandez was aghast. He led the charge to get the council to have staff plant grass and trees and create a mini-park that would add and not detract from the neighborhood.

Farther up he passes another site on Moffat the city is pondering as a solution for the veteran hall, unwilling to accept the project as undoable based on issues with the previously selected site.

And then before turning down South Main Street, he passed the $7 million transit center.

“What comes first, the chicken or the egg?” Hernandez asked rhetorically in response to the question come critics have posed about why the city built a “train station” before they obtained train service.

“It’s more than just a train station,” Hernandez said. “It is a transit station for regional bus service.”

And the trains, he noted, will come. An effort is underway to extend Altamont Corridor Express service into Stanislaus and Merced counties before 2020. When that happens, ACE trains will stop in downtown Manteca.

Besides, as Hernandez noted, it takes years to get a train station built.

The station also contains another mark of Hernandez’ forward thinking. It was built, at his insistence, to include electric car charging stations.

Animal shelter, other

upgrades without

incurring expensive debt

Driving down South Main Hernandez passes the animal shelter and vehicle maintenance facility, two facilities Manteca built without having to take on expensive debt.

He points to a number of projects — the new Lathrop Road fire station, the animal shelter, the vehicle maintenance facility, the homeless shelter renovation and others — that the city was able to pursue during the recession when construction costs were lower thanks to being prudent financially.

“It was kind of like the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority),” Hernandez said of the ability to keep people working during the recession while getting public works projects accomplished that would power future economic growth.

To further illustrate his point about city fiscal policies, Hernandez noted the city is in the process of working on three interchange improvement projects — Lathrop Road at Highway 99, Austin Road at Highway 99, and McKinley Avenue at the 120 Bypass. That’s a rarity for California cities.

Hernandez noted Manteca does things differently. Instead of going to the state and saying they have a problem and give us money, they devise a solution and approach the state for approval without hat in hand.

Hernandez noted the city is currently working with the private sector on two major undertakings aimed at improving the local economy and increasing tax dollars to pay for municipal, services — the proposed 500-room Great Wolf Resort and the 1,049-acre Austin Road Business Park.

“They (Austin Road developers) are working to bring 9,000 direct jobs to Manteca,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez along with Steve DeBrum serves on the council subcommittee that is working with McWhinney Development on the proposed Great Wolf Lodge that would create 570 jobs with a combined annual payroll of $9.4 million. That’s in addition to generating millions of dollars in room taxes each year.

The business park portion of Austin Road has the potential to pump $45 million in annual payroll dollars into the Manteca economy that is still wrestling with a 9.6 jobless rate.

 Hernandez believes the council has worked well at setting aside differences and moving on after they have debated issues and reached a decision.

He credits that with the 180-degree turn in the political climate in Manteca since the early part of this century

As for Manteca’s success through the recession when other cities were retreating farther and not enjoying nearly a  much building activity, Hernandez noted, “we’re not the hare, we’re the tortoise” in underscoring the advantages of the city taking deliberate steps while working at the same time to think outside the box.

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