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Perry: No. 1 issue is how city manages tax dollars
Mayor hopeful Carlon Perry, right, talks with friend and former business partner Tim Drake outside of Drake’s Village Sandwich Shop in downtown Manteca. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Money – and how it is managed by municipal leaders – is the No. 1 issue in the Nov. 2 mayor’s race as far as Carlon Perry is concerned.

Perry concedes there are other issues running the gamut from public safety and gang violence to downtown’s future and what he believes are excessive salaries at the top management levels at City Hall. But Perry noted none of those can be addressed adequately without “a sensible approach” to how the city spends the taxpayers’ resources.

Perry is one of four hopefuls seeking the mayor’s post in the Nov. 2 election. The others are incumbent Willie Weatherford, council member Debby Moorhead, and retired Manteca municipal planner Ben Cantu.

Perry notes that the structured deficit that resulted in gaps of $11.4 million that had to be covered last fiscal year and $3.8 million in the current fiscal year by spending down reserves “just didn’t sneak up” on city leaders.

It is something that has been pointed out for over a decade by municipal staff including during his 10-year stint on the council that included a four-year term as mayor before Weatherford defeated him in 2002.

“It (the structured deficit) was the downfall of (former city manager) Bob Adams,” Perry said.

Adams, after being replaced by Steve Pinkerton two years ago, was hired by Vallejo to help steer that Bay Area city through bankruptcy.

Perry noted that he ultimately never voted for a municipal budget during his tenure on the council because he was not willing to have his stamp of approval on a spending plan that acknowledged a deficit was accumulating and not having a plan to deal with it.

And it is the fact the city failed to deal with the deficit before the economy soured that prompted Perry to get back into city politics after an eight-year hiatus.

Perry, who says he means no disrespect for the current council and mayor, believes part of the problem is their backgrounds. Three either worked in the public sector or are currently earning a government paycheck. Weatherford is a retired police chief, John Harris a retired probation officer, and Vince Hernandez is an employee with the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

“They have never had to sign the front of a check like a businessman has to do,” Perry noted. “They’ve just signed the back of a check.”

Perry has a number of years of business experience mostly in newspaper publishing.

Perry said the election should be about being the best possible guardian of the taxpayer’s money.

He isn’t anti-government but simply believes government should do the things that people can’t provide for themsleves as individuals such as public safety, wastewater treatment, drinking water, garbage collection, as well as streets and such.

And even though he was the point man leading the charge on the council for a number of years to try an block the Big League Dreams partnership Manteca entered into, Perry said now that it is in place everybody - including himself - has an obligation to make sure it works.

He has brought up one issue that no other candidate has to date - the salaries of the city’s top officials.

“The salaries of top management are out of line,” Perry said, noting the city manager makes $200,000, the assistant city manager $180,000, and the city clerk $165,000.

Perry emphasized that he had no qualms of what rank-and-file municipal workers are paid and added that many may be underpaid in relation to the top management salaries.