Chris Silva draws on his military leadership as an asset for seeking a seat on the Manteca City Council.
Jose Nuno also has a military background. But the one-time Manteca Planning Commissioner sees himself as a “team player,” if elected to the post in November.
David Breitenbucher retired from the Manteca Fire Department nearly two years ago and has served on a variety of boards, from Give Every Child a Chance to Agape Village. “This is the next step,” he said of his run for a council seat.
Those three are challenging for one of two seats currently occupied by Mike Morowit, who is seeking re-election after winning in 2014.
Those attending Wednesday’s Candidates Forum Luncheon at the Emory Hall hosted by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce had a chance to hear each of their takes on questions concerning the community.
On homeless situation, Silva, who served as a Calvary Scout with the U.S. Army, blamed the lack of funding in mental health along with those dependent on drugs and alcohol as contributing to the vagrancy in downtown.
“We need to find programs that will get them back on their feet,” he said.
Nuno currently oversees Visionary Home Builders of California, which provide home ownership programs and services.
“Housing alone does not fix (homelessness),” he said while also pointing out to mental health issues.
Breitenbucher, who is a 1980 graduate of Manteca High, knew of two friends that died while living on the streets.
“It’s about giving help to those who want help,” he said.
Morowit is a local businessman and has encountered his fair share of those living on the street over the years.
He, too, agreed with Breitenbucher, adding: “It may take that 20th time to reach out to that someone for help.”
On downtown revitalization, Breitenbucher said: “Downtown is the heart of the community – we need to make it part of our community again.”
He remembered the parades along with numerous special events in downtown Manteca during the years.
Morowit believes that it will take a partnership that includes property owners and business owners to help in those revitalization efforts.
“We need to make it clean and safe for people from here and other cities,” he said.
Nuno, in his line of work, has been impressed with cities such as Livermore, Turlock, Tracy and Lodi with their revitalized downtowns.
He credits the “political wheel” for making those efforts possible and believes the same can take place in Manteca.
“Unfortunately, I’ve seen downtown wither away,” said Silva of downtown’s current condition.
The lifelong resident and father of four – he’s also committed to youth sports, coaching and serving on the board for both Manteca Little League and Spreckels Park Little League – Silva noted that the only time that cleaning up takes place is during special downtown events.
In terms of growth, Silva believes re-zoning has been a contributing factor.
Some are those working high-tech jobs in the Bay Area relocating to Manteca, according to Nuno.
Morowit said that growth has its benefits with developer fees benefitting the local schools.
Breitenbucher indicated that growth has affected local roads, turning Airport Way, once a country road, into a major thorough fare while bottlenecking traffic along Main Street and Yosemite Avenue.
Public safety was everyone’s concern, especially with the Great Wolf Lodge water park coupled with the growth of the industrial parks providing numerous opportunities, including jobs while boosting police and fire.
“If you’re not safe and secure, you can’t enjoy it,” Silva said.
They also agreed on the need for affordable housing.
“We need a variety of build for Manteca,” said Morowit, who mentioned the need for seniors on fixed incomes as those in need of affordable housing.
Breitenbucher added the military vets and the disabled to that mix.
As for public transportation, he, Morowit and Nuno were thrilled at the plans for the ACE commuter train coming into Manteca Transit Center.
“It will impact our downtown,” Breitenbucher said.
Silva believes using an improved bus route to the Lathrop ACE station, given the familiarity and proximity, as a better option.
“I’m not a 100 percent in favor of ACE coming to Manteca,” he said.