Editor, Manteca Bulletin.
Dear Lori Romo (author of Tuesday’s letter headlined “Ben Cantu seems like the real deal”) and Lori and citizens of Manteca:
This letter is to any and all citizens of Manteca that refer to the members of the Manteca City Council as “good old boys” and complain about what they have not accomplished and think they, themselves can do a better job.
Please allow me to educate what this involves. First of all to get elected, one needs to collect donations or fork out a lot of one’s own money to cover expenses of running for office. For my husband this meant about $30,000, of which about $8,000 came from our retirement funds. For the Mayor’s position it means a lot more funding and a lot more work. It’s not cheap to run for office with campaign manager, yard signs, letters, postage, rental of venue’s, food to serve at events, fees to attend events and baskets to donate, legal posting fees, newspaper ads, etc.
Then there is getting out there and pounding the pavement walking precincts: Rich and I walked 70% of the precincts in Manteca and had 10 helpers who each walked 1-3 precincts each. They were a huge help. It takes a lot of time and perseverance. This is step one. Ben Cantu, in all of his numerous prior attempts at election, has never even bothered to try raising funds or doing the leg work needed for victory.
One must consider that the council is a part time position and one’s family cannot live off the stipend which they receive from serving. That means that most of the people on the council actually have full time jobs to support their families. Steve, Mike, Gary, and Debbie all have full time positions, and Rich is retired, but still works part time doing income taxes. Even being part time, the council is not just the Council meetings. It involves attending most city events, extra meetings, representing the City on various committees, being prepared for meetings which means reading homework, asking questions, researching information, and dealing with the public a lot. It takes a lot of time to prepare. It’s a lot of work while holding full time jobs and balancing family needs.
Rich is a veteran, having served in Naval Air for 12 years, was a former reserve level 1 policeman in the city of Concord for 13 years (means he volunteered every Friday evening and events to patrol and protect the citizens), He served on 2 commissions in Concord. In Manteca, he volunteers with SAFE (Seniors Assisting Fire Department), CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), and Rapid Response Team, getting called out at all hours to direct traffic and assist emergency scenes. He belongs to Sunrise Kiwanis, volunteering with their programs and fund raisers. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the American Legion. He brought a lot of experience and knowledge to the council. There are other organizations which we are active in as well. The majority of the things he does is to protect and serve the citizens as well as helping the City to be effective and efficient. Most of the members of the council volunteer in a similar way.
Steve and his lovely wife Veronica are just as active, and probably more so. He works full time, belongs to many organizations, and attends and supports almost every fundraiser and function in Manteca. He does an excellent job for the City and deserves our support. They both do all these activities while helping to caring for their daughter and supporting her medical needs for the past several years. They are hardworking and very civil minded and he does a fantastic job as Mayor. His dedication and love of the City is endless. We are fortunate to have him as our Mayor. I support Steve.
Mr. Ben Cantu is a nice man, but stuck in the ancient past. You rarely see him at City Council meetings, budget sessions, local events or fundraisers. He claims to have solutions to all the problems, but has no real concept of how to pay for said solutions. He has no idea about managing a multi-million budget. He has yet to learn that one needs to live within one’s means and that you cannot spend money which one doesn’t have. He doesn’t seem to understand the City needs to work within a sharply defined budget. He promises to hire more policemen, but doesn’t say how he plans on paying their salaries, medical coverage, or retirement. He has advocated eliminating the beautiful municipal golf course. He apparently has no idea that the City council cannot make changes without the funding to pay for those changes and most certainly the mayor cannot do anything without a council majority vote. Some of the changes that need to be done occurred when Ben worked for the City and his work put the problems in place. Reality is one cannot wave a magic wand and have everything completed. The only way to pay for promised improvements is to raise taxes, and few people want that. Making a promise or a wish doesn’t make it come true. Funding to do the job does, and balancing the budget is a step in achieving the goal. Steven, Rich, Gary, Mike have past experience dealing with budgets and sticking to them. Ben doesn’t. Experience is important.
If Lori attends the council meetings she would notice the current members are working on fixing the downtown and working on repairing the roads. They need to do it within the funds that they have. They also have limitations within which they can work. The current council is a nice balance and cross section of our community, and I feel that they are doing an outstanding job. Our City workers are hardworking and do a fantastic job keeping our City running and in such great shape. Our Police, Firefighters, Parks Department, and other city offices bent over backwards during the recent recession and did more, worked harder, and longer, with less. They deserve our appreciation and “Thanks for keeping our City running.”
It’s a lot of hard work to run for City Council and it’s a lot of hard work to do the actual job. Some citizens will agree with what you are doing and some do not. The one’s that disagree with you will let you know what they think, demanding that you fix their particular problem. People, the city council cannot demand that a certain store or restaurant build in our town just because you think it would be nice. Private companies make their own decisions and demanding the city council do something about it falls outside their jobs. The job takes a lot of time away from their work and families and the complaints wear away on one’s desire to serve. We are lucky to have a dedicated City Council willing to make the sacrifices and hope most of the citizens in the Manteca Community acknowledge that by voting the deserving incumbents back into office.