Last Wednesday was a historic and emotional night at the Morgan Hill City Council meeting as the body welcomed new officials and bid farewell to two longtime public servants.
Before voting unanimously to certify the Nov. 3 general election results at the Dec. 9 meeting, council members, city staff and residents shared their memories and thank-yous with outgoing officials.
The official election results showed Gino Borgioli defeating Larry Carr in Council District A with about 42 percent of the votes cast. Mayor Rich Constantine and Council District C member Rene Spring won reelection.
Borgioli, Constantine, Spring and two newly appointed officials—City Treasurer Caitlin Jachimowicz and City Clerk Michelle Bigelow—were sworn in for their new terms in separate, socially distanced events that were video recorded prior to the Dec. 9 online council meeting.
Borgioli, the city’s newest council member, said after the body certified the election results, “I want to thank, most of all, the public for electing me, and having faith in me…I promise I will work collaboratively with each council member and staff at the city.”
Carr, who served as an elected council member for 20 years, was the lone official at City Hall council chambers as he delivered tearful remarks expressing his own gratitude to his colleagues, city staff and Morgan Hill residents.
“While the votes have not gone in my favor, I am extremely grateful to the citizens of Morgan Hill for your trust in me over the last 25 years,” said Carr, who served on the Morgan Hill Unified School District Board of Trustees for a four-year term before running for council.
Longtime City Clerk Irma Torrez is now retired after completing her most recent four-year term. Bigelow is Morgan Hill’s first appointed city clerk. The position had been elected since the city was incorporated, until the voters approved a measure to appoint the officeholder in 2018.
During council remarks recognizing Torrez, Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Martinez Beltran noted that she has known the longtime city clerk since long before she was elected. Torrez has also been active in the community as a softball coach and a “mentor,” Martinez Beltran said.
“I want to thank you, personally, for all that you have given to Morgan Hill,” Martinez Beltran said. “I respect and admire your professionalism and your transparency.”
Torrez later noted that she has represented the City of Morgan Hill in various capacities for about 40 years.
“It has been such an honor, and a privilege to have served the community,” Torrez said. “I wish everybody the best. Stay healthy, and thank you so much for allowing me to serve the city for all these years.”
Bigelow has worked for the city since 2008, when she started as an office assistant. Most recently, she was deputy city clerk. She also serves as the Region 14 director for the City Clerks Association of California, which allows her to provide leadership for the region, coordinate training opportunities and mentor her peers.
As city clerk, Bigelow will be the city’s elections official, legislative administrator and records manager.
City Manager Christina Turner also recognized outgoing City Treasurer David Clink, who served one four-year term before declining to run for reelection on Nov. 3. Earlier this year, the council decided to appoint Jachimowicz—the only candidate who qualified for the city treasurer’s election—instead of keeping the uncontested race on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Praise for Carr
Larry Carr has been a major influence on the progress of Morgan Hill—and even South County—during his time on the council, according to his colleagues and many residents and city staff members who commended him during the Dec. 9 meeting.
In a video compiled by city staff, elected officials, city department leaders and community members lauded Carr as a steadfast advocate for Morgan Hill who is skilled in his ability to reach consensus and find solutions on issues that might arouse strong opinions from all directions.
While serving as a council member, Carr also represented Morgan Hill on the boards of agencies such as the VTA and South County Regional Wastewater Association—with an understanding that regional collaboration benefits the city’s residents.
“You are a visionary, a skilled policy maker, you put community first, and you are a collaborator,” Council member John McKay said in the video. “Great things have happened in this community, and you have been behind a great many of those.”
City staff presented another video at the Dec. 9 meeting depicting some of the most visible changes to Morgan Hill over the last 20 years, which Carr played a key role in implementing. These include the redevelopment of downtown Morgan Hill, which has attracted new businesses and revenue generators while adding public art, parks, plazas and other community amenities.
In his farewell remarks, Carr called out by name all the council members he has served with over the last two decades, among many officials and city staff members whom he lauded for their dedication to making Morgan Hill a better city. He closed with some advice for his colleagues to “be wary” of identity politics and “cancel culture,” and to “defend against the divided electorate.”
“Your actions matter, your voices matter and your votes matter,” Carr said. “Inform the public the best you can. Stick to the facts, and disagree without being disagreeable.”