For the first time in more than a decade, city will have a new mayor; voters are also electing by district
Published in the April 25 – May 8, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life
Although the November election is months away, candidates for Morgan Hill City Council are already positioning themselves for a run.
Mayor Steve Tate said he is not running for mayor, leaving the position open for challengers to step up. He was first elected mayor in 2006 and re-elected five times after having served eight years as an elected member of the city council.
One running for mayor is current councilmember Rich Constantine. Another challenger is former councilmember Greg Sellers. Frequent challenger Joseph Carrillo, 28, said he is considering a run for the seat.
Due to a lawsuit filed last year, for the first time in the city’s history, council seats will be elected by districts instead of by at-large elections. Councilmember Larry Carr, who was first elected to the council in 2010 and now represents District A, has two years remaining on his term and said he is unsure if he will run for mayor this year.
“November is a long time away,” he said. “Politically, I am focused on the busy work at hand of the city council. It’s budget season, employee contracts, and an ongoing conversation about guns in our community and safety in our schools. I’ll worry about running for mayor when it’s campaign season. Until then, I’ve got important work to do.”
Constantine represents District B, so his running for mayor leaves his council seat vacant.
Ken Murray, a current Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce board member, has pulled papers with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voter and intends to run for District B, he said.
Councilmember Rene Spring, who lives in District C, has two more years on his term.
District D Councilmember Caitlin Jachimowicz, recently had a baby, one reason she will not seek the full term she was appointed to when Gordon Siebert moved out of state with a year left on his term.
“It was a really hard decision, but ultimately I decided that while my kids are so young, I want to spend as much time as I can with them,” she said. “I think it’s really important to have diversity in representation on the council. Unfortunately, the time commitment both on and off the dais requires a lot of sacrifice for someone with a full-time job and a young family. If we are serious about the council reflecting our community, we will have to tackle this issue in the future.”
Constantine, a 54-year-old San Jose firefighter, was elected in 2014 and is completing his first term. He said he wants to maintain the positive direction Morgan Hill is going.
“There are a lot of projects coming to fruition,” he said. He also cited the lack of affordable housing and the city’s infrastructure as two important goals he wants to accomplish in the future that he says not enough attention has been paid to.
“Those are discussions we should have had sooner, but leadership was lacking,” he said. “(As mayor) I’m going to push those forward.”
Sellers, 56, who served on the council from 1998 to 2010, said running was not even on his radar three months ago, but several key leaders helped convince him that now was the time to get back on the dais.
“I’m definitely running,” he said. “Given the circumstances that have evolved it made sense for me to look at it. I felt there was no one else in a position to provide that leadership we need right now.”
Sellers works in business development for a large national solar company. He cited land issues and regional cooperation as vital issues moving forward.
“With my connections at the regional, state and local levels, I can provide the kind of leadership that Morgan Hill needs,” he said.
Murray, 62, said his high-tech business background where he led large organizations, helping them grow revenues and control expenses while maintaining a strong sense of culture, will help him on the dais.
“I believe that these experiences will have a significant impact on the formulation of a general growth strategy,’ he said. During the past several years he has led the chamber’s Economic Development Committee and recently, the Government Relations Committee and from those experiences said he has developed some keen insights into the challenges the city faces.
“This strategy places a focus on adding new businesses and helping our current business grow, both of which will add additional, well-paying jobs in our city and grow general fund revenues to maintain a balanced city budget,” he said.
Carrillo, 28, ran unsuccessfully for council in 2010, 2012, 2014 and for mayor in 2016. He said if he does run it will be on a platform similar to his previous attempts and that is making Morgan Hill a well-known, pedestrian-friendly city.
Marilyn Librers, who served on the Parks and Recreation Commission from 2002 to 2008 and on the council from 2008 to 2016, said she is undecided. She lives in District D.
“I’m exploring employment opportunities that will require extensive travel,” she said. “But I am still committed to our community and will continue to rally to the needs of Morgan Hill any way I can. It was my honor to serve eight years on city council and six years as a parks and recreation commissioner. As a 45-year resident I feel I have the skill and knowledge to contribute to preserve our lovely city.”
With candidates for mayor, no election races in Districts A and C, and Murray running in District B, the only district without an announced candidate at this early stage is District D.