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Cantu apologizes about social media comments about ex-city manager

Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu has issued a formal apology for posting comments on the Woodward Park Nextdoor app about Toby Wells who resigned as city manager on Tuesday after just 145 days on the job.

“Yesterday (Monday), I posted some comments online about Toby Wells,” Mayor Ben Cantu was quoted as saying in an official City of Manteca news release. “Those comments were not accurate and I wish to withdraw them. I believe everyone has a right to due process of law, so I want make it clear that Mr. Wells has never been investigated by the City of Manteca. The City of Manteca thanks Toby for his service and we wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Cantu is known to actively engage to comments residents post on various social media platforms about city issues or in response to statements made about his job performance as mayor.

Cantu also regularly holds live Q&A sessions via his Facebook page in a bid to engage citizens.

The council meeting in a closed session Tuesday accepted Wells’ resignation. That decision was then made public.

Toni Lungren was appointed acting city manager. She is the deputy city manager.

Typically what happens when a city manager leaves employment of a municipality, an acting city manager is named while the council decides on an interim city manager.

An interim city manager serves while the council conducts a search for a permanent city manager. The city manager and city attorney are the only municipal employees that the council hires. The city manager hires department heads who in turn hire the balance of the staff.

Sometimes the acting city manager is elevated to interim city manager or even permanent city manager.

That happened in 2011 when Karen McLaughlin was elevated to acting and then interim city manager when Steve Pinkerton resigned to take a city manager post in Davis. The council, after several months with McLaughlin at the helm, opted to forgo a search and hired her as the permanent city manager.

McLaughlin had more than 24 years with the city and was servicing as assistant city manager when she was made the permanent city manager.

In 2019 when Tim Ogden was put on paid administrative leave, Mirada Lutzow was made acting city manager from her position as human resources director. She became the interim city manager when Ogden and the city agreed to part ways. She was then elevated several months later without a search to serve as permanent city manager. She was eight months into a three-year contract when she abruptly resigned in February 2021.

Ogden almost immediately got a job as city manager for Brentwood where he still serves today.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email