Newcomer Rene Spring the top vote getter, Larry Carr wins re-election

Published in the November 23- December 6, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Marty Cheek

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Photo courtesy Rene Spring: Rene Spring, second from right in blue shirt, and some of his supporters celebrate at The Running Shop and Hops Election Night. Spring garnered 7,909 votes or 32 percent, the most of any of the five city council candidates.

Morgan voters returned Steve Tate to the position of mayor, and Rene Spring will join the city council, with incumbent candidate Larry Carr returning. However, Spring’s opposition to Measure S failed to resonate with voters who overwhelmingly passed the growth control ordinance with 76 percent approval.

As of press time Friday Nov. 18 with 91 percent of the ballots counted, in the race for Morgan Hill mayor incumbent Tate received 10,267 (about 63 percent), Kirk Bertolet received 4,077 votes (25 percent) and Joseph Carrillo received 1,986 votes (12 percent). (Editor’s note: Read Tate’s guest column introducing himself as the mayor-elect on the front page of this issue of Morgan Hill Life.)

Tate served as a councilmember for eight years before he was first elected mayor in 2006. The term for councilmember is four years and for mayor is two years.

Bertolet, an electrician for the Valley Transportation Authority, said in an email statement: “God bless the people of Morgan Hill. May peace, love and friendship fill your homes, schools and businesses. I hope prosperity is in excess and life is lived to the fullest. This is an awesome town. The elected leaders are good people with excellent ability and goodness in their hearts. Morgan Hill is in good hands.”

In the five-person race for the two open seats on the Morgan Hill City Council, Spring received 8,267 votes (32 percent), Carr received 6,689 (26 percent), incumbent candidate Marilyn Librers received 4,554 votes (about 18 percent), Armando Benavides received 3,364 votes (about 13 percent) and Mario Banuelos received 2,979 votes (about 11 percent).

Carr said he sees challenges as well as opportunities for Morgan Hill residents, and he looks forward to working with the city staff, fellow council members and members of the community to solve them.

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Photo by Marty Cheek:  From left, John Varela, Mario Banuelos, Janet Librers-Leach and Marilyn Librers at Ladera Grill during an Election Day night party.

“Throughout the campaign I heard so many positive, thoughtful responses to my campaign for a bright future for Morgan Hill. Now is the time to lead,” he said “With the support of residents our councilmembers must come together around an agenda that places the future growth of the community as the center piece. And at the same time how we communicate and engage with the community will be important areas of focus. I want to engage with the next generation of our community, keeping the character of Morgan Hill while recognizing and responding to our growing community.”

Spring also said Morgan Hill faces many challenges that residents will have to address together, listing the impact of the California High-speed Rail system’s construction through the South Valley, increasing traffic and climate change. He also sees the need in the city for infrastructure improvements and the creation of well-paying jobs, as well as the preservation of open space, agricultural land and Morgan Hill’s small town character.

“I am deeply humbled that so many placed their trust in me to provide me with the opportunity to serve you soon as your new council member,” he said. “This is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. I would like to thank my small and fun campaign team, my family and friends, as well as all the volunteers and supporters — most of whom had before been involved with political campaigns. This was our campaign for change and for what we believe in. Together, we won!”

Incumbent Irma Torrez ran unopposed for city clerk as did David Clink for city treasurer.

In the campaign for Morgan Hill Unified School District Board of Trustees, in Trustee Area 5, incumbent Thomas Arnett returns to the board after receiving 2,238 votes (about 65 percent) and Angelica Diaz received 1,236 voters (about 35 votes). In Trustee Area 6, Mary Patterson received 1,400 votes (about 45 percent), winning the seat from incumbent Rick Badillo who received 849 votes (about 28 percent). Candidate Albert Beltran received 844 votes (about 27 percent.)

“I am honored that the voters of Morgan Hill have given me the opportunity to continue serving on our school board, and I am sincerely grateful to all the people who volunteered and donated to help me run a successful campaign,” Arnett said. “During the next four years, I look forward to working with the other trustees and the district staff to provide all students in our district with an excellent education.”

Patterson described her “journey” to the MHUSD board beginning when her daughter entered kindergarten at Los Paseos Elementary School 11 years ago. During those years, she spoke with hundreds of children, teachers, parents and administrators seeking to make the educational experience in local schools a positive and uplifting one for students, she said.

“One urgent issue I will tackle is the need for more funding for our district from the state capitol. Our ability to attract and retain good teachers, staff and administrators and provide the resources they need to succeed is suffering due to insufficient funds,” Patterson said. “There are many important issues facing our board of trustees, including population growth planning, poverty and homelessness among our families, and meaningful performance measurement that gives us a true picture of our success.”

Morgan Hill resident John Varela beat Tom Cruz 47,665 votes to 33,326 votes to retain his seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors.

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren won re-election to the California 19th Congressional District, which includes Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin.

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“I look forward to doing all I can to assist people in South County and to work on issues of concern,” she said.

City councilmember candidate Banuelos, a member of the city’s General Plan Advisory Committee that worked on Measure S, said he was “delighted” that voters overwhelmingly approved the update to the city’s Residential Development Control System, which was originally approved by voters in 1977 in an effort to prevent urban sprawl in the city limits. The measure received 12,545 yes votes to 3,834 no votes, about a 77 percent approval by voters.

“The strong support at the ballot box validated the hard work of many individual stakeholders from different segments of our community, both public and private, who participated to create the updated framework to build upon Measure C (the previous growth control ordinance) before it expires in 2020,” he said. “Our goals for Measure S included preserving neighborhood character, encouraging preservation of open space and water conservation, appropriately pacing development, and streamlining the competitive allocation process for both city staff and developers. The voter approved measure, while perhaps not perfect as has been debated in social media and the press, does fulfill most of the above goals that, in the long term, will benefit the city of Morgan Hill.”

On the county level, the Measure A bond for affordable housing passed by 426,474 yes votes to 206,551 no votes. The Measure B half-cent sales tax to pay for transportation infrastructure improvements and efficient public transit passed by 458,454 yes votes to 184,431 no votes.

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi is the editor of Morgan Hill Life newspaper. If you have a story idea or an Around Town column item you want to tell him about, you can reach him at (408) 427-5865 or at editor@morganhilllife.com.
Robert Airoldi