Ben Cantu said that he wanted to bring transparency to city government.
And on Thursday, the Manteca mayor did just that in a nearly two-hour long question and answer session on Facebook Live – a medium that he used multiple times throughout his campaign to connect with voters and share information directly with the people that he hoped to represent.
Covering a range of topics from the quality of Manteca’s roads to the ongoing issue with the homeless, Cantu spared no detail and answered nearly every question that was posted to him – offering explanations about how he feels about the subjects being discussed and the things that he wants to do to address those issues.
One of the issues that was raised that Cantu took a solid stance on was the security of Southside Park – where a 19-year-old was gunned down and killed earlier this week sparking concerns of violence and unrest that plagued that neighborhood more than a decade ago.
While the question was simply about increasing police patrols in the area, Cantu took it a step further – saying he’s going to champion a community center so that young people that live too far away from the Boys and Girls Club have a place to go.
“It’s a terrible situation and I hate to see things like that happen,” Cantu said. “Manteca needs, I think – and I have said this for a number of years – we have a Boys and Girls Club on the north end of town, and I think we need one at the south end of town as well. I think Southside Park would be a good place for that.
“It would be a place where they can go instead of sitting idly in parks, and I’m going to bring this up at an upcoming council meeting. I have a plan – there is a building there I would like to work with, and if we can find some financing and get some cooperation from a property owner, another Boys and Girls Club or something similar at Southside Park would be a good alternative to what we have now.”
Cantu also fielded a number of questions about the pending PG&E power outage that could come anytime between now and the end of fire season – voicing his support for SSJID to prevail in its effort to take over PG&E’s existing power distribution system for the City of Manteca as well as outlining the reasons why some residents are getting frustrated with the city about installing whole-house generators.
According to Cantu, the issue comes from the noise that the larger whole-house generators create being above the maximum threshold allowed – meaning that they can’t be located on side yards and instead have to be moved to the backyard where the sound can dissipate. The problem with that, he said, is that the gas and electricity meters that the systems need to tap into are almost always located on the side of a house, and moving the units so far away means that conduit and piping need to be run and that requires professional installation. Cantu said that he’s going to continue to work with the city on the matter, but also urged people to consider generators to power only the essential elements that they need to survive a long-term outage – their refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, medical devices, and a few lights.
Cantu also made the following points when responding to questions:
He hopes to see the city hire between 10 and 11 new police officers in the next two years to bring the staffing ratios closer to national standards and praised the work that the Manteca Police is doing to protect the city with the limited resources at their disposal.
He agreed with a resident that said that the Manteca Police need to make life “uncomfortable” for the homeless that have taken over city parks, but also cautioned that the city has to work within the framework of the law. Cantu said that there are plans in place to do exactly what the person suggested and noted that it would be an issue that will be discussed frequently moving into the coming months.
He’s disappointed with the ownership of the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley for failing to fill storefronts and refusing people who want to move into the center, saying that if they “aren’t going to do better, they should sell the property to somebody who is going to invest in it and do right” – adding that he’s “tired of seeing empty spaces.”
Stop signs are needed on Moffat Boulevard to allow for high school students to cross safely – noting that there is no traffic break between Spreckels Avenue and Main Street, which causes vehicles to travel at unsafe speeds when students are present.
Cantu said that he will likely hold another public town hall in several months.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.