There’s not a lot of fluff to Tom Patti.
What you see is what you get.
Maybe it’s the humble upbringing that included a childhood where — struggling to help his family make ends meet — he would go through fields after harvests where his parents had gained farmers’ permission to pick up remaining produce.
It could be the discipline that’s stuck with him as he learned as a young man to stay focused and on the straight and narrow through the training need to be an amateur boxer.
Perhaps it’s the example provided to him by his father who — after fighting for America — came to Stockton with the aid of the GI Bill to help feed his family and started his own business with a determination that allowed him along the way to provide good paying jobs so others could raise their families as well.
Or it could by the high level of commitment to customers plus being nimble, innovative, and dedicated to the nuts and bolts of executing business plans that has allowed his business — Delta Cranes — not only to survive economic down turns but to thrive.
At age 52, Patti doesn’t need to pad his resume.
Nor does he need to slow down.
That’s why after building up the foundation his father laid with Delta Cranes and successfully quadrupling a firm that today has a direct $500,000 a year impact on the local economy that he opted to run for the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.
What is so remarkable about the race for the District 3 seat this time around is how both candidates aren’t treating Lathrop — as well as Manteca north of Yosemite Avenue — as an afterthought.
No disrespect for those that served representing parts of the South County for the past 30 years or so, but this is the first time the campaign for the board for a seat that represents a larger chunk of Stockton doesn’t have a feel of being Stockton-centric.
And that is actually a good thing for Stockton.
Patti — and Moses Zapien who was appointed to the board by Gov. Jerry Brown more than midway through his first elective term in office as a Stockton council member — have taken a genuine interest in Manteca and Lathrop that goes just beyond trolling for votes.
Patti doesn’t see the Board of Supervisors as a stepping stone. Rather he sees it as a way he can help do the heavy lifting that’s going to be needed to restore San Joaquin County to the days it was an economic juggernaut in the Central Valley that lifted up the lot of both middle and working classes.
He’s not saying what is here, the community he loves, is bad. It’s just that he knows it can and should be a lot better.
And he’s driven by the psyche and commitment needed after a lifetime of being one that signs checks as opposed to endorsing them.
At the end of the day both Patti and Zapien get that the fortunes of San Joaquin County are tied to Stockton that has been doing a less than stellar job these days of righting itself.
The people that make key decisions to invest or locate jobs in communities make initial cuts by broad brushes. As such efforts to secure decent employment opportunities for the 750,000 residents that live here whether they are in Lodi, Manteca, Stockton, Tracy, or Lathrop are often hampered by Stockton’s image.
The worst example was a six-month period back at the depth of the housing collapse in 2008 when banks holding thousands of foreclosures applied Stockton-based values to them whether they were in Manteca, Tracy, Ripon, Lathrop, or Lodi. The banks came to their senses and started employing local expertise again in setting values ending wholesale fire sale dumping of homes in areas that were faring better than Stockton. The lesson, though, shouldn’t be forgotten — San Joaquin County is only as strong as Stockton.
To that end, Patti looks to the Board of Supervisors to rise the tide to lift all boats whether it is working to increase education opportunities or making neighborhoods safer. Stockton — for various reasons — has been bogged down after the Great Recession. It is struggling thanks in part of a City Council leadership for the past four years under controversial Mayor Anthony Silva that has rarely done more than rubber stamp the policy wonks at city hall.
That’s where the check signing mentality comes into play. Patti gets that when you have your own business you can’t rely on a guaranteed source of revenue like government or the fact anybody will be knocking on your door.
You’re the one that has to make it work for the sake of those that earn paychecks.
And in the case of San Joaquin County, there are 750,000 people counting on the Board of Supervisors to get it right.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.