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Morgan Hill
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July 31, 2021

Election: PACs, unions load city campaign coffers

Statewide political action committees and unions are a growing presence on the campaign trail for local elected offices for the City of Morgan Hill, as the latest funding disclosure forms filed by those running for mayor and two council seats show.

Candidates for the mayor’s seat and two city council positions filed their latest campaign finance disclosure forms in accordance with the California Fair Political Practices Commission guidelines, just before the Oct. 27 deadline.

Two political action committees representing real estate interests in California have contributed a total of $3,000 to three candidates.

The California Real Estate Political Action Committee (CREPAC) contributed $1,000 each to incumbent Mayor Steve Tate and incumbent Councilman Larry Carr, as well as $500 to council candidate Mario Banuelos.

The California Apartment Association (CAA) has contributed $250 each to Carr and Tate’s campaigns, according to their latest FPPC forms, which are on file at the Morgan Hill City Clerk’s office.

CREPAC, based in Los Angeles, represents the legislative aims of the California Association of Realtors by “managing and administering funds to support candidates for local, state and federal offices,” according to the association’s website, car.org.

The CAA is “the largest statewide rental housing trade association in the country committed to protecting the interests of rental housing owners and managers,” reads the association’s website, caapac.org. The CAA’s political action committee makes contributions to candidates for public office “who are receptive to the concerns of rental property owners and managers statewide.”

Unions representing firefighters, electrical workers, construction employees and other industries have chimed in as well, contributing thousands of dollars to various local candidates.

The election is Nov.8. Running against Tate for mayor are Kirk Bertolet and Joseph Carrillo. Running for two seats on the council are Carr, incumbent Marilyn Librers, Banuelos, Armando Benavides and Rene Spring. The top two vote recipients in the council race will gain the two available seats.

Carr has raised $3,000 since the September FPPC deadline, bringing the total fundraising for his 2016 candidacy to $8,844. Contributions to Carr’s campaign in the last month include $250 from the South County Democratic Club, $500 from the San Jose-based International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 332 labor union and $500 from the Santa Clara County Construction Trades Council labor union.

Carr also received $300 from developer Gordon Jacoby, who sold about 20 acres of property to the city in July 2015 for about $5.3 million. The agricultural property is located on the corner of Tennant Avenue and U.S. 101, and the city purchased it as a future site of baseball and softball fields.

Librers’ late October campaign funding disclosures show that she has raised $6,523 in the last month, bringing her total for the year to about $13,867. Her contributors include the Sacramento-based Lincoln Club of Northern California PAC ($500), the CalFire Local 2881 union ($1,000), developer Monterey Dynasty LLC ($3,000), Firato Services ($500) and the E&H Family LP ($500).

Monterey Dynasty is the developer of the Diamond Creek residential project on Monterey Road south of Vineyard Boulevard. Firato Services is a janitorial contractor that currently has a contract to clean city-owned facilities.

The Lincoln Club PAC “recruits, mentors and supports local, state and federal candidates that strengthen fiscal and personal responsibility and free enterprise,” according to their website thelincolnclub.com.

Banuelos reported another $945 in contributions since the Sept. 24 filing, bringing his total campaign funds collected this year to $4,199. Recent contributors include CREPAC ($500) and Morgan Hill Planning Commissioner John McKay.

Spring, a city planning commissioner, remains in the fundraising lead among all city candidates, though most of the $36,281 funding his campaign since last year was contributed by him and his husband.

Since the late September filing, Spring has raised $2,745 in campaign funds. Top contributors include the IBEW 332 Education Fund ($500), Laborers LO 279 PAC ($500), Santa Clara/Benito Building Trades union ($500) and the South County Democratic Club ($250).

Bertolet reported three contributions to his campaign for mayor since September. These include a $300 contribution from Larry Breniman. Bertolet’s total campaign contributions come out to $5,925, mostly provided by himself, according to the FPPC filings.

Tate’s latest campaign disclosures show he has raised just over $2,000 since the September filing, and a total of $12,320 for the year so far. Among his top contributors are CREPAC, Morgan Hill resident and longtime farmer George Chiala ($250), the CAA PAC and PG&E ($250).

The mayor’s campaign expenditures indicate his support for candidates in other races, including John Varela for the Santa Clara Valley Water District director’s seat, and Mary Patterson for Morgan Hill Unified School District board of trustees. Tate’s campaign contributed $100 to each of those candidates.

Candidates are required to file a “Form 497” whenever they receive a contribution totaling $1,000 or more within 90 days prior to the election, according to City Clerk Irma Torrez.

Carrillo and Benavides are not required to file campaign finance disclosures or form a campaign committee because they do not expect to raise or spend more than $2,000 on their respective election efforts, Torrez said.

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