David Cushman is the technology candidate.
The youngest person at age 24 running for a seat on the Manteca City Council this election cycle, Cushman – who cut his teeth in politics as one of the founders of the Manteca Tea Party Patriots – took a unique approach to sharing his platform with prospective voters on Friday afternoon.
A live stream on Facebook.
And while his pitch was heavy with specifics about the things he’d like to address as a councilman – revitalizing downtown, looking at affordable housing options, implementing term limits on the council and helping the burgeoning homeless community – he also said that he’d like to implement new technology efforts into the way that local elected leaders interact with their constituents and make it easier for people to find out what is going on within their community.
“Facebook for me was one way to get the word out, and it all goes back to how most people interact with their leaders and each other,” Cushman said. “More people would be more likely to tune in if they could do it in the comfort of their own homes, and I think that being able to do that and hear from somebody that wants to do something that will improve your life and the place that you live is a tremendous opportunity.
“I’d like to take that same approach with council meetings – I think that live streaming it over something like Facebook would be beneficial, and if an ordinance needs to be changed in order to make that happen, lets change it. It’s all about whatever medium we can use to connect with the most people.”
While Cushman has no political experience outside of campaigning to be a member of the San Joaquin Republican Central Committee, he is plugged in with the goings on inside of the City of Manteca. As a Kiwanian he is active in the community and knows how to network with other civic leaders. And considering the fact that his grandparents and his parents both owned small businesses in Manteca, he knows a thing or two about the struggles of independent business and how to survive during hard times.
And in his eyes, things like affordable housing – especially for young people – are something that needs to be addressed urgently by the council.
“One of the things that I would like to do if elected is bring more affordable housing into the community because it’s an issue with the young people we have,” he said. “I want young people to be able to build a life here when they graduate high school or college and I want them to be able to stay here for the rest of their lives if that is what they choose to do.
“We want to keep their skills here and allow them to start families here, and we can’t do that if there are no jobs so that is a big part of it as well. But if we’re being honest, people my age who work full-time can’t afford to buy a house, and many can’t afford to rent a house. Even one-bedroom apartments are going for $1,100, and that is out of reach for a lot of people. Manteca loses part of its future when people are priced out, and that’s not something I want to see.”
He noted that he wasn’t making a push for rent control or government control, but rather using the free market with some government-set conditions so that the situation could arise where it was economically feasible for builders to look into lower-cost options like duplexes and apartments.
He was also pretty adamant about adopting term limits so that those that have been on the council for an extended period of time make way for others with a fresh perspective that can only benefit the future of everybody involved.
“If you have the same people for too long, the ideas won’t change and the needs of the community will change. I respect everybody who is on the council and those that are running because the more people we get the better we all are, but we need to have new ideas,” Cushman said. “The needs change every so often, and we need somebody up there that can reflect that change.”
Cushman is among eight council hopefuls for two seats in the Nov. 8 election who have either returned completed nomination papers or are currently circulating them. The others are Ben Cantu, Marcus Davenport, Eric Hayes, Gregory Pitsch, Debbie Moorhead, Gary Singh, and Jeffrey Zellner.
If all of the eight qualify for the ballot it will be the largest number of candidates in modern times dating back to at least the early 1980s — if not ever — to run in a Manteca City Council election.
Moorhead is one of the incumbents holding the two seats up for election this year. She is seeking her third four-year term.
The other incumbent — Vince Hernandez — has indicated he does not plan to seek reelection after completing his 16th year on the council.
Nomination papers must be filed by Friday, Aug. 12, at 5 p.m. at the City Clerk’s office at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
If Hernandez does not file as an incumbent state law requires an extension of the filing period to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 17. City Clerk Lisa Blackmon said she will make that determination on Aug. 12 at 5 p.m.
Candidates are generally advised to turn in signatures early enough to allow them to be verified.