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Open shelter for homeless? Cantu says yes DeBrum says no
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The general consensus about potholes?

They need to be repaired.

But when it comes to how to handle Manteca’s homeless problem the two candidates for mayor in the Nov. 4 election disagreed.

Mayoral hopefuls Ben Cantu and Steve DeBrum along with Manteca City Council candidates fielded questions from members and guests of the Manteca TEA Party Patriots Thursday night at Chez Shari. 

According to Cantu the homeless matter shouldn’t be left up to the police department who roust them from one park only to have them go to another or kick them out of one side of town only for them to move to the other. The answer, he said, will come in building a homeless shelter where people can get a shower and a meal and the resources they need in order to make  a positive change – suggesting that some of the abandoned industrial buildings in town would be the perfect location for something like that. 

DeBrum disagreed. 

“We as citizens have a responsibility – if we build a shelter for 200 we’re going to get 400. If we build it for 400 we’re going to get 800. What we really need to do is get people together and have them work together to come up with a solution, like we’re planning with a summit on (Oct.) 28,” DeBrum said. “A shelter isn’t the answer. Getting churches and service groups and people that are willing and able to provide by working together is what we need. We need to improve the situation because right now we have individuals that are making a mockery of the situation.” 

In a mini forum that was ultimately civil, mayoral candidates DeBrum and Cantu and council candidates Vince Hernandez – the incumbent – and Rich Silverman fielded questions from the audience that ranged from how they felt about the upcoming Manteca Unified School District bond measure (three of the four don’t like it) to the proposed South San Joaquin Irrigation District takeover of PG&E’s existing power distribution network to Manteca, Ripon and Escalon. 

The SSJID question was only one of two items that all four candidates agreed on. 

“I think the General Manager over there is Jeff Shields, but they seem like a well-run government agency. From what I hear it’s the LAFCo staff that is the problem,” Silverman said. “As far as I’m concerned SSJID can come in and take over congress anytime and show them how government is supposed to operate.”

Hernandez talked about how his existing PG&E bill is tiered and how he’s had to make it a habit of running certain appliances at certain times. He’s gone so far as looking into adding a solar system at his house to get a break in the electrical bill, and says that he thinks that a 15 percent rate reduction – which SSJID is promising if their proposal goes through – will benefit both residents like him as well as large industrial and commercial customers that use insane amounts of electricity.