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After ceaseless 12-year effort Cantu is now Manteca’s 8th elected mayor
Mayor Ben Cantu is congratulated by Fr. Chad Wahl after the Catholic priest administered the oath of office on Tueday.

Mayor Ben Cantu minutes after being sworn-in Tuesday as Manteca’s mayor as the city starts its second century made it clear that he has a distinct perspective on growth.

“It’s a privilege to build in Manteca, not a right,” Cantu said before a standing room crowd at the Civic Center council chambers.

It was one of three points he expressed that’s he plans to follow and hopes his colleagues also will embrace.  The others were to make sure to listen to and serve the public as well as employ common sense to avoid rules and regulations being so rigid that they end up being counterproductive.

Cantu shared how his outlook on how growth takes place in Manteca was forged. He told the gathering it happened on his second day on the job as an assistant planner in the newly formed City of Manteca Planning Department in 1971 where the only other staff was Planning Director Phil Sanguinetti and secretary Dorothy Silva. Manteca had less than 14,000 residents at the time.

Cantu related how two developers — who are no longer building in Manteca — walked into the office, did not wait to be asked if they could be helped, ignored the secretary, and walked directly into the planning director’s office where Cantu overheard them tell Sanguinetti point blank that “this is how its done in Manteca.”

After being administered the oath of office by St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church Father Chad Wahl, Cantu did a first for a Manteca council meeting — he first welcomed family and friends in Manteca in Spanish and then English.

“It’s been a long road for me,” Cantu said referencing five other previous unsuccessful runs for council seats and the mayor’s post. “I have a head full of plans.”

Cantu indicated he was looking forward to working with staff and the City Council.

“It is my hope Manteca will have a different future, a better future, and a prosperous future,” Cantu added.

He lauded outgoing Mayor Steve DeBrum as well as outgoing council members Mike Morowit and Richard Silverman along with council members Debby Moorhead and Gary Singh who are midway through four-year terms “for establishing the building blocks upon which we will build a better future for Manteca.”

Several times he expressed a desire to employ common sense in council decisions when dealing with rules and regulations that may not make sense in specific situations.

“Our future is what we make of it,” the mayor added.

Dave Breitenbucher and Jose Nuno were sworn into office by City Clerk Lisa Blackmon. Following tradition, the council appointed Breitenbucher as the highest vote getter for the two council seats as vice mayor with Nuno replacing him as vice mayor in December of 2019.

Breitenbucher like Cantu is a retired city employee. Nuno served as a planner and Breitenbucher as a firefighter.

It marks the first time in at least 45 years that two retired city employees are serving on the Manteca council.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email