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Finding out about Manteca council, mayor hopefuls

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POSTED June 26, 2010 3:02 a.m.
Manteca voters in 160 days will elect a mayor and two council members.

Municipal government elections are extremely important for two reasons: First and foremost  the services and amenities the city provides or doesn’t offer impact our daily lives even more so than the county, state, or federal government. Every time you flush your toilet, turn on a faucet, drive down a street, take out the garbage, walk on the sidewalk, call for police or fire services, step into the library or visit a park, you are doing so based on decisions made ultimately by a  five-member elected City Council.

Second, decisions and investments made by the council on behalf of the city’s 69,000 residents have long-reaching impacts on how the city will grow geographically and economically for decades to come.

Every election is important by definition.

Some candidates have built-in constituencies just as they have built-in detractors.

Having said that, there are a great many people out there who don’t have their minds already made up as to who they will vote for as they may know little or nothing about candidates’ positions, beliefs, track records, and background.

Nothing, of course, beats in-depth one-on-one conversations with every candidate where there is a two-way exchange.

Campaign mailers rarely get into issues more than superficially by listing broadly what a particular candidate is for or against.

The Manteca Bulletin, as in past elections, will provide all candidates with space to describe their platforms and qualifications in 750-word columns as well as answer a number of questions with all of their answers appearing at the same time in early October before the election.

Not saying that is superficial, but it can still be difficult to get a grasp of where they are coming from or going.

That is what is prompting an ongoing series that starts on today’s front page of having candidates discuss specific issues.

The first subject matter was at the suggestion of Manteca mayor candidate Ben Cantu who wanted to share his ideas about what he believes needs to be done downtown.

That led to a decision to invite all candidates to share their thoughts as to what they would try to do - or wouldn’t do - with specific issues if they are elected in November. It certainly is much better than simply saying you’re for something or against something as that doesn’t tell anyone how you’d make something work or why you are against something and what you would do instead.

So far we’ve made contact with three of the five mayor candidates to listen to their visions and plans for downtown and have messages into the other two. They will not necessarily run altogether or consecutively. The same offer will be extended to council candidates as well.

As for future issues, to be addressed we’d like to hear your thoughts. (You can e-mail them to dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or send to the Manteca Bulletin, 531 E. Yosemite Ave., Manteca, CA, 95336.)

These stories won’t preclude formal announcement stories where candidates, if they so choose, can share their background, platform, and such in a story. We’ve already run one on Debby Moorhead when she formally announced earlier this month.

Readers are also encouraged to write letters on issues or candidates. We will relax general length rules just a bit. Try to keep them to 600 words or less. All letters must carry the name of the writer. We’d like to ask letter writers to refrain from name calling. Attack the candidate’s record or positions. Nothing is gained by name calling except to help further polarize people.

What we also hope to do is have a reader forum where - after the specific issues such as downtown are addressed by candidates - that residents can put in their two cents as to what they’d like to see done and then run those at one time.

We believe in reading what the candidates have to offer that they bring to the table a wide array of viewpoints and experiences.

Whether you agree with them, you should at least respect their courage for putting themselves out there for what they believe in. Nobody makes a more tempting target for people to shoot barbs at than elected officials except perhaps newspaper editors.

What we also will do in the coming months are several stories on what council members and the mayor have the actual authority to do. There are misconceptions on everything from taxing power and what they can do to the compensation they receive.

The right to vote is arguably our most basic right. It has been secured by the blood of men and women.

Hopefully we can provide a forum to connect candidates with voters that will enable them to decide who the best people are from their perspective to direct Manteca’s municipal government for the next four years.
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