Manteca’s elected leaders are not going to try and enforce what they as a group consider are appropriate fashion standards for representing the people of the City of Manteca on their fellow council members.
The council Tuesday on a 3-0 vote — with Mayor Ben Cantu who brought up the idea for a council dress policy abstaining and Councilwoman Debby Moorhead absent — opted not to change the status quo of the past 102 years and let individual council members determine what is appropriate for them to personally wear while conducting city business.
At one point it was clear that the fact the attire of Councilman Dave Breitenbucher from time-to-time of attending council meeting in shorts is what prompted Cantu to push for a policy that called for casual business attire while including a short list of what is not allowed — including shorts.
Breitenbucher said on those occasions he was coming to either a regularly scheduled meeting or a special meeting directly from coaching a youth swim team and did not have the time to go home and change.
Councilman Jose Nuño, in noting that the council concurred with Cantu’s request last month for staff to come up with a dress code policy to see what it would look like, said after seeing what was proposed and allowing him to reflect on the issue he could not support the idea of a dress code for council members.
“It made me realize we all have a different definition of what is appropriate,” Nuño said.
Nuño said that the council was elected to represent 85,000 people who may not have issues with how individual council members dress or may have different personal standards when it comes to what type of dress they perceive as appropriate for various situations.
Councilman Gary Singh said he favored simply trusting council members to make the appropriate decisions regarding dress. He added the public, if they disagreed with how a council member dressed while representing the city, had the ability to express their displeasure essentially at election time.
“We don’t need a policy to tell us how to dress,” Singh said. “We’re all adults.”
He noted “we should dress what we feel comfortable” doing as well as what is appropriate for the occasion.
Cantu agreed there were generational differences that need to be taken into account. He noted before retiring he spent 30 years wearing a suit and tie to work as a municipal planner.
Singh noted that Millennials are moving away from suits and ties.
The council received two communications from the public regarding the proposed council dress code.
Arvin Reed said he had no problem with council members wearing California casual attire — including shorts. He added that he felt the mayor was purposely gunning for Breitenbucher who often disagrees with positions Cantu takes.
Former council member Richard Silverman questioned whether the city had any legal authority to enforce a dress code on elected officials that could ultimately led to efforts to prevent them from representing people that elected them if they were blocked from participating in council meetings or other city business if they didn’t toe a mandated fashion line.
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