They’re in the trenches.
They hear daily the successes, the concerns, and the fears of commuters and those who can walk to work if they so desired.
They deal day in and day out with government regulations, the soaring cost of doing business, and the changing labor market.
They deal with the homeless daily.
And they also know first-hand what it is like to be a crime victim.
The two are Gary Singh and Mike Morowit. Both serve on the Manteca City Council.
They also both happen to own liquor stores — Singh on East Yosemite Avenue and Morowit on West Yosemite Avenue.
Both stores, as a side note, were once owned by Bob Miner. He sold the store next to Grocery Outlet to Singh’s father Sam and then later sold the store he owned in the Lincoln Center anchored by Hafer’s Furniture to Morowit.
There was a time in Manteca politics when a retail store owner would never in their right mind run for city council given the damage it could do to your business if you made a decision that irked people and they decided to vote with their feet by taking their business elsewhere.
Prior to Morowit’s election in 2014, the last retail businessman to serve on the council was Frank Warren who stepped down as mayor in 1992. Singh was elected in 2016.
Some on social media have slammed Singh and Morowit for being out of touch with homeless issues and crime. It’s kind of ironic given both are dealing with them day to day.
Singh and Morowit each have strict policies about selling alcohol to anyone who appears to be intoxicated including the homeless.
Neither will tolerate aggressive panhandling outside of their stores. Singh for standing his ground against a lawless homeless person — the city ordinance is clear on the point of aggressive panhandling — got punched in the face.
Both stores have been victims of armed robbers, shoplifters, and break-ins with the most egregious being a bold break in at Singh’s store where criminals pulled out an ATM in the wee hours of the morning.
In short, both are victims of increased property crime plaguing the city and other California municipalities that occurred state prisons were emptied of “non-violent” offenders. Plus they have to deal with serious felonies — armed robbers — threatening their employees as well as them.
It is against that backdrop they conduct the people’s business.
Given how they have to constantly rethink how they are doing business to stay competitive and thrive they want the city to take the same tact as well.
They get the need for balance. It is why you see both pushing for more police officers but aren’t willing to gut other needed municipal services to accomplish that goal.
The two took different paths to Manteca. Singh was born here. His hard working and devoted parents Sam and Jesse Singh moved to Manteca from their native north India state of Punjabi. His father started his path to business ownership by working as a farm laborer picking berries.
Singh graduated from Sierra High in 2000 and went on to secure a degree from the University of Pacific where he graduated cum laude.
Morowit moved here from the Bay Area and has been in business since 1995.
Both place a high emphasis on family. Both advanced to the City Council after serving on the Manteca Planning Commission. Singh has known Morowit since he was a teen.
When Singh was elected at age 34 in 2016, he was the youngest council member to win a seat in at least 40 years. Morowit is 16 years older and is now 52. They are the youngest two members on the council today.
Singh is a second generation American and native Manteca resident. Morowit moved east over the Altamont for a better quality of life. They share many views but none are as clear as their commitment to make their hometown the best, the safest, and the most prosperous it can be.
That, of course, is a goal that’s embraced 100 percent by their elected colleagues — Mayor Steve DeBrum, Councilman Richard Silverman, and Councilwoman Debby Moorhead — as well as those seeking to win the seats they hold in the upcoming Nov. 6 election.
The run and hide rat-a-tat-tat on social media slamming Singh, Morowit, and other elected leaders as being essentially stone deaf when it comes to homeless and crime concerns is way off base.
They get the need for balance. And they take the hits not just politically but at their businesses when it comes to the homeless and crime — in Singh’s case the hit is also literal.
Over the years Willie Weatherford, Dave Bricker, Charlie Halford and Nick Obligacion — former police chiefs who didn’t abandon their community when they got their final paycheck — have been frustrated about the inability to hire more police officers.
But at the same time they understood what other services were needed. All four, by the way, were and are strong advocates of recreation programs as they have seen how they are an effective tool in avoiding crime that comes from not having healthy diversions when people have idle time.
Singh and Morowit share the same common thread that others do who want their town to be the best it can.