Two years ago close to 80 people jammed the Manteca City Council chambers to see Mayor Ben Cantu take the oath office along with council members Dave Breitenbucher and Jose Nuño.
Others stood outside due to crowd limits.
On Tuesday for Charlie Halford’s swearing in ceremonies the council chambrs were virtually empty except for Acting City Clerk Cassandra Candini-Tilton and a handful of city employees.
Halford made municipal history as being the first elected council member sworn in remotely via a Zoom meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Halford was sworn-in by Candini-Tilton via Zoom as he sat in his home office.
The public watching via livestreaming on the city’s website or via Comcast Channel 97 saw images of Halford with his right-hand raised repeating the oath with smaller images of Cantu and Breitenbucher, City Manager Miranda Lutzow, Candini-Tilton, and the city attorney looking on while Nuño and outgoing councilwoman Debby Moorhead had an audio log on.
“It’s the seventh time I’ve taken that oath,” Halford, who served for 32 years with the Manteca Police Department, quipped.
Mayor Cantu said that when in-person meetings resume he wants Halford to take the chair to his left that was occupied by Moorhead.
In doing so the middle of the dais will be occupied by three former City of Manteca employees with a combined 86 years on the municipal payroll — Breitenbucher as a retired fire captain, Cantu as a retired planner, and Halford as a retired police chief. All three served the city concurrently. There were also times when Halford was police chief when Cantu filled in for the planning director and were both seated at the department head tables during the same meeting.
Gary Singh, who was re-elected Nov. 3 and was appointed vice mayor by his colleagues, was absent from the Zoom meeting. Singh — who is now the senior council member with four years of experience and also the youngest at 38 — is ill with the double whammy of COVID-19 and the flu.
The addition of Halford makes this the first council in at least 45 years where four-fifths of the members were raised in Manteca and graduated from high schools within the city limits.
That is despite Manteca’s population and nearly quadrupling to 86,000 since 1975 from a heavy Bay Area migration that now accounts for the bulk of 2,000 plus residents the city is adding each year.
Halford’s election also makes it the first time an East Union High graduate has served on the council as well as the first time all three high schools have alumnus on the council. The others are Singh who graduated from Sierra High as well as Cantu and Breitenbucher who graduated from Manteca High.
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