Former Ceres mayor and state legislator Anthony Cannella has announced his campaign to to run for the District 5 seat on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.
Incumbent Jim DeMartini, who is currently in his fourth term, told Mattos Newspapers that he will not seek re-election.
Cannella is the first to announce his candidacy for the seat.
“I think this is a great opportunity to get back in and focus on things that are important to me and to the community,” Cannella told Mattos Newspapers.
Most recently, Cannella served as 12th District State Senator from 2010-18. His career in elected politics started in 2003 when Canella successfully ran for Ceres City Council. He was elected mayor of that city in 2005 and again in 2007 before moving on to the state legislature.
That breadth of experience, Cannella recently told Mattos Newspapers, is invaluable.
“My experience at the local level and state level has certainly helped me learn creative solutions to deal with issues, and to deal with folks from all walks of life,” he commented. “It has been a great opportunity to grow.”
Cannella said Stanislaus County faces a number of pressing issues and real problems.
Public safety tops of his list of priorities, said Cannella, who called for increases to sheriff’s department staffing.
The importance of public safety was made tragically clear in January 2005, Cannella said, when Ceres police Sgt. Howard Stevenson was killed in the line of duty.
“That opened my eyes to the importance of public safety,” said Cannella, who acknowledged that his prior focus had been on issues such as infrastructure.
A community with the best in amenities and infrastructure has nothing if its citizens do not feel safe, he emphasized.
Holding those responsible for crimes accountable is crucial, Cannella added, suggesting that additional resources are essential for the district attorney’s office as well as the sheriff’s office.
“We are not holding people accountable for drug or petty theft charges. We have an elected district attorney, but the supervisors control the purse strings,” Cannella commented. “We have to hold people accountable, or there is no deterrent whatsoever to committing crimes.”
Blight - in particular illegal dumping - and homelessness are two other high priorities for Cannella.
He described homelessness as being out of control, and proposed a three-pronged approach that would provide assistance for those simply trying to get back on their feet, providing facilities and programs for those suffering from mental illness who are a danger to themselves and others, and strict enforcement of laws when it comes to those who simply enjoy the lifestyle but commit crimes in the process.
Cannella called for a collaborative approach between the county and its nine cities in addressing issues of concern to reach fair resolutions on issues such as property tax sharing.
“It has to be equitable for both. The county has to provide essential services, but so do the cities,” he pointed out.
Stanislaus County faces challenges but also enjoys opportunities, Cannella emphasized, and can capitalize both on its proximity to the Bay Area and ability to promote economic development from within.
Education is a critical building-block, he stated.
“We can do more to emphasize the importance of education, but also promote the trades,” Cannella reflected. “There is such a huge opportunity for people to make more than a living wage in the trades.”
The valley, he emphasized, must provide employment opportunities as well as simply housing for those commuting to the Bay Area.
Investments in transit improvements are critical if Stanislaus County is to achieve its full potential, Cannella contends. In addition to transit links to the Bay Area such as the impending extension of the Altamont Corridor Express, Cannella said, he would like to see light rail within the county.
“I don’t think we will recognize our transit system in Stanislaus County in 20 years,” he predicted.
Cannella, who is a civil engineer, said good governance comes down to effective problem-solving.
“You have to first agree on what the problem is, and then there are lots of solutions,” he commented. “We can’t have egos. We have to work for the best of Stanislaus County.”