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Takes a licking & keeps on ticking
Manteca mayor candidate Ben Cantu, left, had his campaign manager David Saenz check the early returns on Tuesday night. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Ben Cantu is on his way to becoming the Harold Stassen of Manteca politics.

And unlike Stassen, Cantu believes his message ultimately will resonate with voters. 

Stassen was the politician that ran unsuccessfully 10 times for the Republican presidential nomination after serving three terms as Minnesota’s governor.

Even before the final count was tallied on election night, Cantu made it clear he’d start his campaign immediately to gain a seat on the Manteca City Council in 2016. It will mark his fifth campaign to secure a spot on the council either as one of four members or as the mayor who has no more authority than a single vote as a council member in making decisions although whoever holds the post sets the tone for meetings and is the face of municipal government. He has now run for mayor twice as well as twice for council.

Cantu garnered 37.40 percent (3,310 votes) compared to 62.08 percent (5,494 votes) for winner Steve DeBrum.

Cantu noted Tuesday night — as he has previously done several times since June — that a number of people including those who didn’t necessarily support him believed he could have gotten elected this time around had he run for council given one of two incumbents wasn’t seeking re-election. That’s because he had high name recognition and the two challengers — Mike Morowit and Richard Silverman who ultimately won — had to work hard to make themselves better known. Cantu back when he made his formal announcement even said his wife told him he was running for the wrong office and would have been likely to gain election had he run for council

“I ran for mayor because you can have a bigger impact quicker,” Cantu said, noting as one council member among five he essentially would have the bully pulpit to facilitate new ideas.

And while some have pointed out that he would have a better chance of becoming mayor if he was first elected to the council, a political neophyte by the name of Frank Warren was able to unseat then Mayor  Jack Snyder in 1990 without having held any elective office.

Cantu worked for 36 years as a Manteca city planner. That means he worked for the city under every directly elective mayor in city history  — Trena Kelley, Snyder, Warren, Bill Perry, Carlon Perry and Willie Weatherford.

Cantu also has always been specific when campaigning about how he would tackle issues.

In his run for mayor this time he stuck to themes he has ran on previous ranging from builders have too much influence over municipal decisions and having city hall relocated downtown to chastising municipal management for what he contends is “a failure” to keep Manteca government services on solid financial footing.

Cantu in 2016 would be running for the seat currently occupied by Debby Moorhead and whoever replaces DeBrum when he is sworn in as mayor on Dec. 2.

Actually Cantu could end up running in early 2015 if the new council seated next month opts to have a special election instead of appoiningt a replacement for DeBrum. A special election would cost at least $40,000.

Cantu was outspent by DeBrum almost 7 to 1. DeBrum ended up spending $8.45 per vote and Cantu $2.03 per vote.