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Manteca City Council hopefuls make pitch to GOP women

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POSTED September 25, 2012 1:20 a.m.

Steve DeBrum believes that it’s crucial that we protect what agricultural land we have left in the South County.

Debby Moorhead thinks that a three-pronged approach towards combating gang violence – school-based, job-based and faith-based – is the best way to tackle a growing problem.

Sheila Raya believes that throwing support behind public safety is the best way to provide a safe future for not only her children but those of other parents that are worried that their neighborhoods are being overrun with the sort of inner-city problems they never expected to find in Manteca.

And Ben Cantu wants to make sure that the downturn-a-decade cycle that he witnessed while working as a City of Manteca staffer for 34 years can be broken by changing the way that things are done.

What do they have in common? They’re all running for the two Manteca City Council seats that are up for grabs in November. They all took the time to lay out their platforms Monday night at a meeting of the Manteca Republican Women Federated at Chez Shari. It is the second forum that the group has hosted in the last month to give voters a chance to hear their future elected officials up close and personal.

While he didn’t know it at the beginning of the meeting, DeBrum – who opened up his introduction by declaring that he was pro-life, conservative and an advocate for private property rights and family values – would end up getting the group’s endorsement before the night was over.

“I think one of the important things that we need to look at is the protection of ag land,” said DeBrum, who added that the population of the earth will swell from just under 7 billion inhabitants now to nearly 9 billion inhabitants by 2040 – requiring enough space to grow the food to feed the 20 percent spike across the globe.

Moorhead said that she was more than proud of the junior youth ambassador program that she started through the Manteca Chamber of Commerce that takes at-risk youth and works to give them the tools that they need to succeed in the modern world – exposing them to the world around them that they might not otherwise get to see.

If she had her druthers, Moorhead said that she’d like to see the program incorporated through the City of Manteca.

Raya, on the other hand, wants to make sure that she never has to see the number of foreclosure orders that became a routine part of her job at the San Joaquin Superior Court for the last decade – watching them start to increase back in 2007 and eventually reach a level she never thought they’d get to.

“It was heart wrenching,” said the former director of the Pregnancy Help Center.

The most outspoken of the evening was Cantu, who claimed that at least three times during his employment with the city he saw the sort of downturn that elicited the same response that the city council took in recent years – layoffs in police, fire and services while the city dealt with dwindling revenues.

It doesn’t have to be that way, he says.

“It’s a cyclical pattern – it’s a downturn that occurs every 8 or 10 years,” he said. “There’s no reason that we can’t do things a little bit differently instead of making the same old moves.”

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