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Incumbent DeBrum concedes mayoral race
Cantu extends lead to 1,033 votes
Cantu file.JPG
Ben Cantu, right, with wife Mary and grandson Vincent Carter at his campaign headquarters on election night Nov. 6. Cantu is set to become the next mayor of Manteca.

It appears that Ben Cantu will be the next mayor of Manteca. 

On Friday morning current Manteca mayor Steve DeBrum offered his concession after his opponent managed to increase his lead to more than 1,000 votes with very few ballots still outstanding that could tip the election back into his favor. 

DeBrum was elected to the council in 2003 in a special election, and was re-elected for three terms before running for and becoming mayor in 2014 — beating Cantu by 25 percent in their first matchup. 

This time, however, was different — by Friday evening, Cantu had extended his lead to 1,033 votes.

“It has been my honor to serve and represent the residents of Manteca during my time in office, and I want to sincerely thank all those who have helped make our community so special,” DeBrum wrote in a statement that was distributed on Friday. “However, I acknowledge and respect that people want to move in a new direction, and I’ve called Mayor-Elect Cantu to congratulate him and offered to help in any way I can to ensure Manteca continues its progress.  We live in a wonderful community with a promising future. I pledge my full support to ensure we continue moving our city forward together.”

While Cantu took the lead in the race just days after the Nov. 6 election night returns came in, his lead has slowly been growing ever since. However, the sheer number of outstanding ballots in San Joaquin County that were not counted at the time made any conclusion a premature one and kept DeBrum from conceding until one week before the election is set to be certified by the Registrar of Voters. 

In a statement that he released after the phone call with DeBrum, Cantu thanked both his campaign volunteers and the residents of Manteca for having faith in him. 

“I had a productive conversation with Mayor DeBrum today, and I thanked him for his service to the community. He is a dedicated public servant, and I look forward to working with him during this transition,” Cantu wrote in a statement. “I would like to thank our campaign volunteers and supporters for making this possible and sacrificing their time and effort for this campaign. 

“This victory was truly a grassroots operation to reach folks in every corner of our city, and wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of everyday Mantecans in the political process.”

On Dec. 6 the San Joaquin Registrar of Voters is set to certify the election results, and will be submitting their final report to the California Secretary of State for review shortly thereafter. That will give Cantu time to work with DeBrum on a transition before he takes the gavel as potentially one of three fresh new faces on the Manteca City Council — the biggest shake-up of the body in years. 

After multiple failed attempts at getting on the council — Cantu also challenged DeBrum for a council seat in 2012 and finished almost 1,000 votes behind second place — the Mayor-elect said that he’s looking forward to seeing the city move in a positive direction and will work towards making that happen. 

“Finally, I would like to thank the people of Manteca for putting their faith in me. I will work every day to create a better Manteca for the residents of our community, and I am grateful for this opportunity to serve the city that I love,” Cantu wrote. “I look forward to what we will accomplish working together over the next four years. 

“Thank you, Manteca.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.