Lisa Blackmon laid out her entire story for those who wanted to listen on Thursday night.
The Manteca City Clerk talked about how she got into the public sector, the challenges of starting a career in a new community and what she sees as the future of information and the access to it. She also shared how she’d like to work toward real-time access to other public municipal meetings beyond the City Council.
The only problem is that aside from Manteca Tea Party Patriots President David Cushman, only one other person was at Angelano’s Restaurant for the group’s December program that was supposed to give the public an opportunity to interact and learn about one of their city officials.
And if turnouts remain low, Cushman – who was a teenager when he helped form the group with two other Manteca residents – doesn’t see how it can continue.
“I think we’re going to have to go back and evaluate the future of the group and what we’re going to do,” said Cushman – who got to known Blackmon while he was filing the requisite paperwork to run for the Manteca City Council in the last election. “I always enjoyed programs like this because it gives people a chance to interact with city officials that work on their behalf and I’m hoping that the attendance improves so that we can continue offering these sorts of nights to our members.
“I think that having the chance to interact with public servants is a benefit to everybody and we don’t want to stop providing that opportunity.”
It has been five years since Cushman, David Marks and Bruce Lownsbery held the first meeting of the Manteca Tea Party Patriots at Chez Shari – packing the room with more than 100 people who were excited about having a conservative organization within the city that focused on core principals like free markets, fiscal responsibility and constitutionally-limited government.
While the topics of monthly meetings have occasionally focused on national politics, most the group’s programs have featured residents and civic officials – an attempt to bridge the gap between those who make decisions and execute policy and those who elect them.
While Blackmon didn’t have much of an audience, the former Deputy City Clerk of the City of Napa – who started in Manteca on June 1 – made it a point to represent not only the City of Manteca with her comments but also herself.
And even though she didn’t have a whole lot of information about Manteca as a Napa Valley native, Blackmon has wasted no time in jumping in the community she now calls home with both feet – first as an active member of the Manteca Noon Rotary and then by branching out and assuming a post on the board of directors of the HOPE Family Shelter.
The connections she has made through being an active member of the community, she said, have helped her get a better feel of what the residents of Manteca want from their city officials and allowed her to refine her focus to provide the best level of access possible.
“Manteca reminds me a lot of the way that Napa used to be, and that made the transition a bit easier,” she said. “The people in Manteca are just generally nice people who go out of their way for one another and that has made it very easy to feel like this is home to me.
“I see a lot of the same values in this community that I did in the city that I grew up in, and I hope to be able to continue that.”
According to Blackmon, one of the things that she hopes to incorporate very soon is a technological platform that will provide residents with the chance to view Planning Commission meetings real-time the same way that people have access to city council meetings. She would love to have, at a minimum, audio access available for those who wish to keep track of the both the senior advisory and the parks and recreation commissions.
“I want to keep giving back to this community and getting to know the residents here, and do everything in my power to promote transparency at the local government level,” Blackmon said. “And that’s what I’m going to do.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.