The 75-year-old Tracy resident and lifelong Californian — who is running under the slogan: “It’s time for Benigno” — said that if elected, his focus would be creating jobs and balancing the district’s $1 billion budget in a way that supports social services, police, fire and school districts. The nonpartisan position has a four-year term, with elected officials allowed to serve two full elected terms.
“I felt like the people deserved to have choices, and that’s why I decided to run,” he said. “I love this area, and I love the people that live here. I felt like they needed my support in running, so I’m here to give it to them, give them a different option.”
As a farmer, and with more than 55 years working in retail and wholesale produce and grocery, Benigno said he understands the importance of agriculture to Central Valley. His jobs plan would focus on expanding shipping access to the Port of Stockton, so farmers could export more produce at a faster rate. The increased port traffic, Benigno suggested, would create more jobs.
Benigno also said more shipping would take vehicles off the road, reducing traffic and fuel demands in the region.
“We have to help them make a decent living so they can keep producing food and feeding all the people that depend on the Central Valley’s foods,” he said. “We need someone who can make important business situations, and I can do that.”
Benigno also wants to ease farming regulations, such as for chipping, burning and using chemicals.
“Farming is the backbone of most of the valley, and we need to help the consumer as well, by making food more affordable,” he said. “The key issue here is to put people back to work, especially those who have lost their homes and businesses due to downturn in our economy.”
Benigno said his campaign would depend on word of mouth, “because a lot of people already know me, and they know what I’m about.”
“I don’t need to get out and go door-to-door,” he said. “I’m here talking about my campaign, and I hope that people will listen and they will vote for me.”
He shied away from discussing the campaigns of his challengers — the planning commission’s Rhodesia Ransom and the City Council’s Bob Elliott — but said, “I think people will make the right decision to vote for me.”
The primary election is June 5.