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Mayoral hopefuls should heed advice of late Tip O’Neill

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POSTED May 10, 2010 2:01 a.m.
The lead story in Sunday’s Manteca Bulletin was a bit of a surprise for Samuel Anderson.

It was about the South San Joaquin Republicans candidates’ forum tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Chez Shari restaurant on the second floor of the Manteca Golf Course at 305 North Union Road.

It was a surprise because Anderson - who is a Republican - has been a declared candidate for mayor for as long as Mayor Willie Weatherford and Ben Cantu have made their intentions known they’d be running in November. Anderson did not know that the forum was taking place.

Anderson in an e-mail said he was a little perplexed as Frank Aquila, who serves a president of the group, has been over to his house as well as Anderson having dropped by Aquila’s house. Anderson noted that Aquila even has his phone number.

At any rate, Anderson said he is trying to adjust his schedule so he can make it to the forum despite the short notice.

It is interesting to note that the three seeking Manteca’s top elected position are all Republicans - Weatherford, Cantu, and Anderson. At one point there all were Kiwanis club members as well with Anderson being a former member of Sunrise Kiwanis while Weatherford and Cantu are current and active members of Manteca Kiwanis.

Besides a common desire to do what they believe is best for Manteca that is where the similarities end.

They all classify themselves as conservative but the roads they take to get to that designation are significantly different. It all comes down to views on how government should work and what it should and shouldn’t do.

The challenge that the three face is similar to what Republicans collectively face in California as a whole. It is one thing to appeal to the party’s base; it is an entirely different thing to get the majority of the electorate that bothers to vote to cast their ballots for you.

Manteca’s mayor post - as well as the City Council - is a non-partisan seat. That simply means there aren’t primaries and you don’t have to run through the party system to get on the general election ballot unless, of course, you go through the laborious path of an independent.

Even so, those who call themselves conservatives today that are emboldened by the TEA Party movement must remember there are people of all political persuasions and views that are Americans and who vote. It doesn’t mean kissing up to them or not being transparent on where you stand, but it does mean civility in debates that shows respect and comprehension of opposing viewpoints is a must unless, of course, your intention is to take a scorch earthed approach. In the end, though, that never works as everyone ends up arming themsleves with flame throwers. By the time the high octane political rhetoric and name calling is over, you’ve helped weaken the very institutions you sought to strengthen by governing with your value systems.

The bottom line is everyone needs to check the name calling, finger pointing, and outright personal attacks at the door. So far we haven’t seen it in this election cycle in Manteca.

It wasn’t too many moons ago that Manteca was a three-ring political circus. When people didn’t get their way their mounted recall elections or spent their entire term in office hammering away on their points long after the final vote was taken and they came up short.

Approaches like that polarize a community and do little, if anything to get your point across or to have an influence on how the city goes about doing the business of the people.

And when push comes to shove few people voting in the mayor’s election are going to worry too much about social or national issues that the council has no control over. The bottom line is how a candidate intends to govern in terms keeping local services intact and to help Manteca’s economy thrive.

To borrow a few words from One of the Grand Old Party’s nemesis, the late Tip O’Neil, “all politics is local.”

Nothing should ring more true than in a purely local election.

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