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Morgan Hill
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November 29, 2022

Meet the candidates for Morgan Hill Mayor

Three, including incumbent, vie for two-year term at helm of council

With the Nov. 8 election rapidly approaching, this newspaper is committed to helping the voters of Morgan Hill to become as informed as possible about the candidates and issues in local races. City of Morgan Hill offices that will appear on the ballot include the mayor’s seat, as well as two city council district seats: District B and District D. There are also four seats up for grabs on the Morgan Hill Unified School District board of trustees. 

Over the coming weeks, we will present question-and-answer articles with candidates in each of the local races. All candidates in each race were presented with the same questions, and their answers will appear exactly as written by the candidate (edited for space and clarity). 

This week, we start off with Q&As with the three candidates for mayor (starting on page 8): Larry Carr, incumbent Rich Constantine and Mark Turner. The mayor’s term in Morgan Hill lasts two years. 

In City Council District B, incumbent Yvonne Martinez Beltran is running against Bryan Sutherland. In District D, incumbent John McKay is challenged by former City Councilmember Marilyn Librers. 

To determine what city council district you live in, visit the city’s website at https://tinyurl.com/2s73v68y

There are also two local measures, both requiring a simple majority for passage, on the Nov. 8 ballot. Measure A would change zoning regulations in the city limits to “prohibit buildings with characteristics that could be used for new storage and distribution uses.” Measure B would require a future election for any proposed lane reduction project on Monterey Road in Morgan Hill. 

The following candidates will be on the Nov. 8 ballot for four MHUSD trustee area seats: 

– MHUSD Trustee Area 1, Incumbent Wendy Sullivan; retired educator Nancy Altman-Palm.

– MHUSD Trustee Area 2: Incumbent John Horner; realtor/broker James Dill.

– MHUSD Trustee Area 3: Business owner Dennis Delisle; attorney Armando Benavides; and retired teacher/librarian Terri Eves Knudsen. 

– MHUSD Trustee Area 4: Businesswoman Pamela Gardiner; incumbent Carol Gittens.

To find out what MHUSD Trustee Area you live and vote in, visit the district’s online Trustee Area locator at https://tinyurl.com/4e3wceck

The Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters office will begin sending out mail-in ballots to all voters on Oct. 10. To register to vote, or for any local information about the Nov. 8 election, visit the registrar’s website at sccvote.org. 

Larry Carr

Carr, a Morgan Hill native whose family moved to town in 1972, served five terms on the city council from 2000-2020. Before that, Carr served four years on the MHUSD board of education from 1996-2000. 

A longtime public affairs executive, Carr currently works as the Corporate Director of State & Local Government Relations for the Albertsons Companies, Inc. 

Larry Carr

Since leaving the Morgan Hill City Council in 2020, Carr has volunteered with several organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce and MHUSD. Carr’s two children are Sobrato High School alumni and are currently attending college. Carr lives in downtown Morgan Hill with his longtime partner, Barbara Krainock. 

Why are you running for Mayor of Morgan Hill?

Morgan Hill is a special place, it is home. I am running for Mayor to put residents and local businesses first. I am running for Mayor to bring back a positive direction of resolving complex issues.  

As Mayor, I will positively lead our City Council and engage our community in public policy conversations. I will seek practical and useful solutions for a bright Morgan Hill future. I have a background of impactful experience that has prepared me to be ready on Day One to address our challenges and lead our Council. I will provide needed leadership to protect and enhance our quality of life, and I have a proven record of working with the community and city leadership to get things done.

What do you feel should be the mayor’s role on the Morgan Hill City Council, where all five members have an equal vote on the decisions that come before them?

The Mayor’s role is to lead the council. As Mayor, I will provide leadership to help the council achieve goals on behalf of our residents. As Mayor, I will be a unifier, building bridges to bring differing perspectives on the council together for positive results. As Mayor, I will work hard to rebuild community trust that our elected officials are doing their homework, asking the right questions and voting with the best interest of the entire community in mind.  

As Mayor, I know my role is to represent the entire community, listen to community input and ideas and keep the council focused on achieving meaningful goals and impactful results.  

What do you think are the top two to three issues for the City of Morgan Hill, and as mayor how would you address these issues? 

Rebuilding trust in our local leaders. As Mayor, I will be accessible to the community, I will listen first and act upon the things I learn. I will lead the council with integrity and a unifying approach.  

Every councilmember should have goals they want to achieve on the council. As Mayor, I will work with my colleagues to help them achieve goals for Morgan Hill. The Council needs to operate together in Morgan Hill’s interests—not always agreeing, but discussing ideas with the willingness to craft solutions out of each of our ideas, having an open mind to new ideas, to colleague’s suggestions, community input and professional staff guidance.

Preserve our unique and special character. I have always been a champion of responsible growth within the character of Morgan Hill. The League of Conservation Voters has endorsed my campaign because, “Larry is the only candidate with the experience, knowledge and ability to bring the council together in preserving Morgan Hill’s natural character and open space…”

Public safety. As Mayor, I will develop a plan to build and staff Morgan Hill’s third fire station.  This station is critical to a timely response for Emergency medical services. As we experience more extreme weather issues (drought, heat, etc.) the potential for our wildland/urban interface to be threatened by fires is more likely. Increased fire services are needed to respond and save lives and homes. 

In addition to fire services, funding of our police department will take experience and skill in public budgets. Providing resources to increase the number of officers, use technology and mental health professionals for better Community Policing and Crime Reduction and fund diversion programs.

If the City of Morgan Hill discovered $5 million that needed to be allocated immediately, what areas would you spend that money on, and why?

Public Safety: Fund the development and staffing of a third fire station.

Expand and permanently fund our “Unhoused Specialist” program to assist the least amongst us in finding stable housing and opportunities to pursue a quality of life.

Begin preparations for updating our General Plan and other master plans. Many assumptions built into the current plan are no longer relevant due to changes in state law. We should begin preparations now for an updated general plan, including “shrinking” the Urban Growth Boundary to preserve open space and lessen the development pressures on agricultural lands at the most outer edges of our community, update housing numbers with current Regional Housing goals and be sure that water needs are studied and Valley Water can confirm adequate supplies to meet future needs.

And if there is anything left, I would promote “pre-funding” the city’s share of the Property Based Improvement District (PBID) for downtown. If designed well, the PBID will provide funding for physical improvements to our downtown and help to maintain the unique and special environment we have created with our downtown.

Rich Constantine

Constantine was first elected to the Morgan Hill City Council in 2010, where he served two terms before being elected to his first term as mayor in 2018. Constantine is a retired firefighter who served with the San Jose Fire Department, and has volunteered for the U.S. Air Force Civil Air Patrol search and rescue unit. 

Rich Constantine

Over the years, he has coached youth football and volunteered for a number of organizations, including the March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen Foundation, MDA, San Jose Firefighters Burn Foundation and American Red Cross Hero Celebration selection committee. In his spare time, Constantine enjoys scuba diving, and he is a certified pilot. 

Why are you running for re-election as Mayor of Morgan Hill?

These are times of great challenge and great opportunity for our community. After two terms as Mayor of Morgan Hill, I believe I am uniquely well positioned to meet both. 

It has been among the great honors of my life to have served the people of Morgan Hill as Mayor and I am asking for the community’s support to continue the work we started and to help Morgan Hill build on its strengths, face down our greatest challenges and emerge as a community that serves the needs of all of those who call Morgan Hill home.

My proven skill set as a leader, bridge builder and Morgan Hill advocate will position me well to continue to champion sensible growth in the face of the state takeover of our growth control plans, and to continue to work with the county and the state on issues ranging from building our local economy back from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, traffic congestion, preserving open space, addressing the threat of wildfires, water supply and ensuring greater availability of affordable housing.

Two years ago I made a promise to fight for and advocate for you each and every day. I have honored that promise and my commitment to this community remains iron-clad. I look forward to once again working with the people of Morgan Hill to meet the challenges ahead and build on the many opportunities that lay before us.

What do you feel should be the mayor’s role on the Morgan Hill City Council, where all five members have an equal vote on the decisions that come before them?

While the Mayor has one vote on council, they should also be able to facilitate the activities of council, maintain good decorum and ensure good discussion—particularly to keep that discussion on point and focused. It’s the role of the Mayor to make sure that all sides and voices are heard and to remain impartial at all times. I’ve been honored to have played this role for the past four years and hope the Morgan Hill community will entrust me to continue in the role.

What do you think are the top two to three issues for the City of Morgan Hill, and as mayor how would you address these issues? 

There are numerous issues facing our city, including—and we saw how critical this is to Morgan Hill in recent weeks—power resiliency. But among those that we have the ability to impact directly, I would point to infrastructure, public safety and managing financial resources to ensure we can responsibly grow the city. That growth should include adding police officers and maintaining our credit rating (I am so pleased to share that our credit rating was upgraded to AA+), while maintaining good fiscal health. 

If the City of Morgan Hill discovered $5 million that needed to be allocated immediately, what areas would you spend that money on, and why?

With that amount of money, it would most significantly make a difference in one concentrated area. I would invest that kind of sudden infusion in public safety; namely, adding critically needed police officers to our hard-working police force, and building and staffing the third fire station. 

Mark Turner

Turner has lived in Morgan Hill for 30 years with his wife and three daughters. For the last nine years, Turner has led the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce as President/CEO—a role that he will be leaving at the end of this year. In 2020, Turner received the Chamber Executive of the Year Award from the Western Association of Chamber Executives. 

Mark Turner

Turner is Chair of the Silicon Valley Chamber Coalition, and was an Associate Pastor at South Valley Community Church for 12 years. He has been married to his wife, Sue, for 39 years; together, the couple have three daughters, two sons-in-law and three grandchildren. 

Why are you running for Mayor of Morgan Hill?

I feel there is a lack of executive level leadership, which is causing our city to drift. Having a great vision is necessary; however, it’s meaningless if there is an inability to lead, communicate and implement that vision. I have over nine years of executive level leadership and management experience, which will enable me to bring greater focus to the council and the community.

What do you feel should be the mayor’s role on the Morgan Hill City Council, where all five members have an equal vote on the decisions that come before them?

The mayor is in a unique role of representing all our residents, not just those in a single district.

As a result, the mayor should be more present in the community, which is the main reason I am leaving my current job—to be available to residents.

What do you think are the top two to three issues for the City of Morgan Hill, and as mayor how would you address these issues? 

1. Public Safety—certain criminal activity is on the rise, we are down a few police officers, and due to previous councils failing to pay attention, the department is underfunded and understaffed. We can no longer tolerate former and current council members who claim to be public safety champions and ignore the challenges facing our police department and our community. As our community continues to grow, we must keep pace with our law enforcement personnel. 

As mayor, I will work to increase funding for the police department for additional officers, training and technology. Our law enforcement officers must have the staffing, training and technology available to them in order to be properly prepared for any situation they face. 

Our third fire station must be built.

2. Water—Water recycling, conservation and climate change adaptation projects are the way of the future. As mayor, I will work closely with officials at Valley Water, San Jose and Gilroy to develop a water recycling program for South County as well as a South County Water Sustainability Initiative to ensure a reliable long-term water supply for our residents. I’ll also work with our state representatives to re-introduce AB 3005 or similar legislation to expedite work on Anderson Dam, so we don’t suffer unreasonable delays due to regulatory agencies.

3. Housing Growth—As Morgan Hill residents, we deserve the right to determine our destiny, not those in Sacramento. Even before SB 330 took effect, Morgan Hill was experiencing rapid growth. While we are going to grow as a community, we cannot grow beyond our capacity to sustain that growth. Roads, infrastructure, public safety and water supply must all be considered. We must take a more aggressive approach with our representatives in Sacramento. I will work to build and lead a coalition of elected officials from other communities to push back on Sacramento’s overreach. 

If the City of Morgan Hill discovered $5 million that needed to be allocated immediately,

what areas would you spend that money on, and why?

Police—I would use 40% to add additional police officers and support staff as needed, helping to ease the ongoing problem of our police department being understaffed.

Fire—I would use 20% to help build our third fire station.

Water—I would set aside 20% for developing a recycled water resource and/or delivery system to Morgan Hill.

Miscellaneous—I would set aside the balance for miscellaneous uses such as youth and senior programs, funding Visit Morgan Hill, parks and public art programs.

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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