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October 15, 2021

Candidates file early paperwork for Morgan Hill mayor, city council election

Three seats on council up for election in 2022

The 2022 election season for City of Morgan Hill offices is already underway, as two local residents have already declared their candidacy for seats on the city council.

Among the races scheduled for the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot are Morgan Hill Mayor, City Council District B (central Morgan Hill) and District D (east Morgan Hill).

Mark Turner, President and CEO of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, is running for the mayor’s seat, which is currently occupied by Rich Constantine.

Malisha Kumar, a city planning commissioner and former CEO of a manufacturing company, has declared her candidacy for Council District B. Currently serving in that district is Yvonne Martinez Beltran.

Both Turner and Kumar recently filed candidate intention statements and statements of campaign committee organization with the city clerk’s office.

The incumbent in Council District D is John McKay, who said this week he is planning to run for re-election in 2022 “if certain conditions are right.” But McKay might be facing a recall election before next November, as a local voter recently filed paperwork to begin the process to remove him from office early by popular vote.

Turner has led the Gilroy Chamber as the organization’s president and CEO for the last eight years, and has lived in Morgan Hill with his wife for 30 years, he said in an email to the Times. He also currently serves as the chair of the Silicon Valley Chamber Coalition, which represents 18 chambers of commerce throughout the valley.

Mark Turner

In his volunteer time, Turner is the director of South County’s Wreaths Across America effort, which raises money each year to place Christmas wreaths on the graves of military veterans buried in local cemeteries. He is also on the Morgan Hill Community Foundation board, and has served on the boards of the Gilroy Police Foundation and the Gilroy Rotary Club.

As a part-time auctioneer, he has helped raise funds for numerous South County nonprofits, he added.

“I have always appreciated the quality of life Morgan Hill has offered,” Turner said. “I’m running for Mayor because I would like to ensure that quality of life is maintained by focusing on the foundational issues such as public safety, economic development (attracting good paying jobs), managed tourism, fiscal sustainability, and local control.”

He said he would aim to solve problems and address issues on the dais with “reasonable thinking” that supports collaboration among officials and community members.

“I’ve always discovered solutions are found when people, with differing opinions, work together to solve problems,” Turner said. “It’s that diversity of thought, respect for opposing opinions and a desire to solve problems where the best solutions are found.”

The mayor’s term in Morgan Hill lasts two years. Constantine, who is halfway through his second term as mayor, announced his candidacy earlier this year for the Santa Clara County District 1 supervisor’s seat.

Kumar has served on the Morgan Hill Planning Commission for the last three years. Her current term is set to expire in 2025.

Malisha Kumar

She is the former CEO of AHK Electronic Sheet Metal, formerly based in Morgan Hill. She currently works as a property manager for her family’s properties.

Kumar has lived in Morgan Hill for 12 years and raised her two children here.

“I love my city, the town, the people,” Kumar said. “I feel I have a unique skill set coming from manufacturing, being a single mom and the volunteer work I do. I think I have some leadership (skills) that can be brought to the council.”

If elected to the council, Kumar thinks she could bring some “stability” and “help people to see each other’s opinions” in an environment where people are increasingly distrustful of their national, state and local representatives.

The growth of Morgan Hill promises to be one of the top issues in local politics for the foreseeable future, and Kumar said as a council member she would like to see this growth controlled “in a way that maintains the spirit of the community.”

Martinez Beltran, the first-term incumbent in District B, did not respond to a text message asking what her plans are for the 2022 election. 

The city district races could become complicated after the current council completes the redistricting process, which started at the Aug. 18 meeting with a public hearing.

Every 10 years, cities, states and special districts are required to redraw their internal district lines based on updated U.S. Census data to reflect the increase in population. Morgan Hill’s population grew by one-fifth over the last decade, and city officials think after the local redistricting process is over, the current council districts could be substantially different.

That means that incumbents or candidates who are announcing their intent to run early on could be drawn out of their current districts.

The council expects to have the Morgan Hill redistricting process finalized by March, and the new districts would apply in the November 2022 election.

Morgan Hill City Council Districts A and C—currently occupied by Gino Borgioli and Rene Spring, respectively—are not up for election again until 2024.

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