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Four make pitch before gathering at Tea Party forum
Incumbent Debby Moorhead answers questions posed by a voter at Thursday nights forum. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Ben Cantu thinks that those on the Manteca City Council are too quick to spend money when things are flush – directly leading to cuts down to the bone when those same funds dry up.

Debby Moorhead believes that everything starts with the youth.

Sheila Raya says she’s been told that it’s time for a fresh face to represent the people of Manteca – somebody to advocate for the less fortunate and bring all sides to the table.

And Steve DeBrum knows that public safety is the key ingredient to any stable community.

Thursday night all four of the candidates running for two seats on the Manteca City Council explained their platforms at a meeting of the Manteca Tea Party Patriots.

Unlike other candidate forums where each person is asked the same question, those in attendance were given five minutes to speak and summarize their campaign focal points. Those in the audience were then given a chance to ask questions.

Manteca Councilwoman Debby Moorhead spelled out a platform that she said started with making sure that the youth of the community are provided with every opportunity to succeed. The Junior Ambassador Leadership Program that she started through the Manteca Chamber of Commerce, Moorhead said, does just that – taking at-risk youth and giving them the chance to learn more about their community.

But it was downtown that really struck a chord with Moorhead.

“We need to preserve what is best about Manteca,” she said. “We need to preserve our past, and that’s evident in downtown. We need to provide safe and easy access to our businesses.”

Raya said that she’s proud that all of her children were raised locally and attended local schools, and that she spent a portion of her career running the Pregnancy Help Center providing assistance to young mothers and the less fortunate who feel that they have nowhere to turn.

It was in her job through the San Joaquin Superior Court, however, that she learned of the true problems facing the families of the area – watching the sheer number of foreclosure declarations coming across every day.

“It’s a chance to take ownership of our city and get involved,” she said. “My purpose and destiny is to help citizens. I want to promote budget transparency and accountability and making sure that we utilize and take care of the businesses that we already have before going out and looking for others.”

DeBrum, however, had very specific points of what he plans on doing if voters give him the nod for another turn on the council.

“Public safety is No. 1 for me because nobody should fear for their lives when they walk the streets of this community,” he said. “We’re adding an additional firehouse and a gang unit and that shows the dedication to looking after our residents.”

He also added that bringing new jobs and businesses to town should go hand-in-hand with hiring more police and firefighters.

Cantu, on the other hand, had a very different outlook.

A longtime local planner with the City of Manteca, Cantu says that he’s seen the boom and bust cycles several times during his years of employments and doesn’t think that things need to be as drastic on either end – the spending when times are good or the cutting when times are bad.

“We need a fiscal and physical plan that doesn’t fluctuate with the economy,” Cantu said. “I want to start a process of change so that 10 or 12 years from now we’re not talking about how there’s not enough police in this community. We need a new way of thinking.”