Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum wanted everything to go right.
It wasn’t just the fact Manteca’s first ever State of the City presentation was his idea.
He needed to make it clear to the 200 plus people gathered Wednesday morning at the Manteca Transit Center exactly where Manteca is at and where it is headed.
“I can’t tell you how many times I rehearsed the speech,” DeBrum said.
He sought input from fellow council members. The day before he practiced at the microphone in the community room of the station destined one day to serve as an Altamont Corridor Express stop. Then the night before he reworked the last three pages.
“It’s not about Steve DeBrum,” he said afterwards. “It is about everyone on the council working together to set policy.”
It is why he strives to serve the community he loves by the “Five ‘P’s”: Prior planning prevents poor performance.”
After 26 years of listening to elected Manteca mayors deliver talks designed to provide constituents with the city’s vision, it is safe to say DeBrum parked it.
He was swinging for the proverbial bleachers not out of desperation but from confidence built on a solid foundation.
DeBrum doesn’t try to downplay problems. Street maintenance needs addressing. There can be disconnect at times between staff and the community.
The resilience of the staff is reflected in the fact the city manager hired just six months ago has been on administrative leave for seven weeks and counting while personnel issues are thoroughly investigated yet the city hasn’t skipped a beat. That speaks volumes not just of staff but of the five individuals voters entrusted with governing their community.
There is more to life than surviving. Given the road being paved by the Manteca City Council the community is thriving. And — if you take stock of everything as Councilman Richard Silverman observed at the ground breaking Monday for the 404,657-square-foot 5.11 Tactical distribution center being built at CenterPoint Business Park in the city’s far northwest corner — Manteca is positioned to boom over the next two years.
DeBrum delivered a clear and concise snapshot Wednesday of where Manteca is at and where it is heading. For him to be able to do that, a lot has had to go right in the 15 years since he was first elected to the council.
Most of us like to grumble about the need for more restaurants, more shops, more entertainment, and more government services although on the latter very few want to pay more taxes to obtain them even though there is only so much you can squeeze out of stepped up efficiency and thinking out of the box.
So how bad — or good — is Manteca aside from points that were delineated in Mayor DeBrum’s State of The City address given distractors may argue at a chamber of commerce event you’d expect a chamber of commerce style picture to be painted?
Go back 25 years. Manteca had just under 49,000 residents compared to 75,000 today.
Mission Ridge Shopping Center anchored by Wal-Mart, Pak-n-Save, and Mervyn’s had just opened.
There was no development south of the 120 Bypass. Union Road at the 120 Bypass was an overcrossing and not an interchange. Spreckels Sugar was struggling to compete in a valley with tightening air quality standards, in a world where other countries subsidized sugar, and a marketplace that was moving rapidly toward fructose.
There was a Sizzler but it was small, fading and about as appealing as some people view dining in a hospital. Compare that to the Sizzler that is open today after the chain’s 24-year hiatus in the Manteca market.
There was no Target. There was no Raley’s. There was no Costco. Stadium Retail Center and Big League Dreams were 18 years away from happening.
If you had said someday Manteca would have a Del Webb community people would have thought you were on drugs.
Woodward Park was a 52-acre almond orchard. The Tidewater Bikeway was a trashy abandoned railroad right-of-way cutting though the heart of the city.
Downtown was years away from being graced with its Tidewater-style light standards and street furnishings, trees that weren’t stunted, street pavers that weren’t tripping hazards, public art in the form of murals, and an expanded Library Park. There was no farmers market. There was no street fair. The Pumpkin Fair was a controlled access event that had moved away from its family roots by booking fairly big name acts at Oakwood Lake and the Manteca Waterslides.
There was only one football stadium in town. Sierra High did not exist. St. Dominic’s Hospital— the forerunner to Kaiser — was in the planning process. The 120 Bypass was a wannabe freeway switching back and forth from two lanes to one lane to two lanes in each direction with concrete barriers put in place to stem the carnage from head-on crashes that killed 32 people in 18 months.
The entirety of Moffat Boulevard looked like it belonged in South Stockton. Business park style jobs were all going to Tracy, Lathrop, and Stockton save for the ones that the Manteca Industrial Park had snagged during the 1980s.
The list goes on.
The future is bright for Manteca but the past 25 years isn’t anything to sneeze at.