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Morgan Hill
April 24, 2024

Updated: Short list of candidates for school board elections

*This story and candidate list was updated Aug. 6.

Nominations open for June primary election

If you have ever considered running for local office in Santa Clara County, now is your chance.Monday, Feb. 12 kicked off the nomination period for the June 5, 2018 Statewide Primary Election. The nomination period ends Friday, March 9, but can be extended to Wednesday, March 14 for contests where the eligible incumbent doesn’t file.And while local Morgan Hill offices won’t appear on the ballot until November, City Council incumbent Rich Constantine has signaled he might run for mayor, and former two-term Councilwoman Marilyn Librers has tossed her hat back into the ring.Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey urged candidates running for office in June to call the Candidate Services Division at (408) 299-8639 or come to the office in order to review forms and requirements for successful filing.“There is no leeway in the filing deadline,” Bushey said. “It is always best to file nomination papers as early as possible so that any incorrect forms may be corrected before the filing deadline, which in most cases cannot be extended.”District 1 Supervisor Mike Wasserman, who represents Morgan Hill, said he intends to run for reelection.“It’s been my privilege to represent South County on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors,” Wasserman said. “I am seeking reelection in June 2018 and have been honored to receive a strong outpouring of support from local leaders in education, public safety, business, agriculture, and community members who share my passion for improving our county.”The following federal, state, and county offices are up for election in June:GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateControllerTreasurerAttorney GeneralInsurance CommissionerSuperintendent of Public InstructionState Board of Equalization, District 2U.S. SenatorU.S. Representative District 17 (incumbent Ro Khanna)U.S. Representative District 18 (incumbent Anna Eshoo)U.S. Representative District 19 (incumbent Zoe Lofgren)U.S. Representative District 20 (incumbent Jimmy Panetta)State Senator District 10 (incumbent Bob Wieckowski)State Assembly District 24 (incumbent Marc Berman)State Assembly District 25 (incumbent Kansen Chu)State Assembly District 27 (incumbent Ash Kalra)State Assembly District 28 (incumbent Evan Low)State Assembly District 29 (incumbent Mark Stone)State Assembly District 30 (incumbent Anna Caballero)Santa Clara County Supervisor District 1 (incumbent Mike Wasserman)Santa Clara County Supervisor District 4 (incumbent Ken Yeager)Assessor (incumbent Larry Stone)District Attorney (incumbent Jeffrey F. Rosen)Sheriff (incumbent Laurie Smith)Judge of the Superior Court, 24 officesThe City of Morgan Hill will not participate in the June primary, and instead will hold elections for local offices in November. The nomination period for the Nov. 6 election opens July 16 and closes Aug. 10.This will be the city’s first council election in the district format. Candidates will need to reside in the districts they are seeking office in. The mayor’s seat will still be elected at large.Three seats will appear on the November ballot, including Mayor Steve Tate, District B Constantine and District D Councilwoman Caitlin Robinett Jachimowicz.Jachimowicz is currently nine months pregnant and said she hasn’t decided if she’ll run to retain her seat later this year. She was appointed to her council seat in January 2017 to complete the unexpired term of former Councilmember Gordon Siebert.“I want to make sure the baby is healthy,” Jachimowicz said by phone Tuesday. “After that, I’ll be able to make some more decisions.”According to City Clerk Irma Torrez, Constantine has already filed a Form 501, candidate intention statement, to run for mayor in 2018.Constantine said that he opened a committee to explore the possibility of a mayoral run, but paperwork for a possible campaign wouldn’t be filed until June.“I think I have a lot to offer Morgan Hill in the higher capacity than just as a city councilmember,” Constantine said by phone Tuesday.Former Councilwoman Marilyn Librers also filed a Form 501 to seek an open council seat in the November 2018 election. Librers served two terms on the council from 2008 to 2016, but was defeated in the November 2016 election.Additionally, the Morgan Hill Unified School District will hold their election in November. Four trustees are up for reelection, including Donna Ruebusch, Ron Woolf, Gino Borgioli and David Gerard. Also, Claudia Rossi’s seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Trustees is also up for election in November.Candidates are encouraged to make an appointment and begin the nomination filing process as early as possible to ensure all paperwork is completed and submitted on time.For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at (408) 299-VOTE or toll-free at (866) 430-VOTE, or visit sccvote.org.

Hendrickson becomes first candidate to enter Persky recall election

Cindy Seeley Hendrickson, a candidate who recently opened a campaign to replace Judge Aaron Persky in the potential recall election in June 2018, will be on hand for a community meet-and-greet at 5pm tonight at Huntington Station. (50 E. Third St.)

Letter to the editor: District elections are an insult

I would like to join the many voters in Morgan Hill that agree with John McKay’s “Our Town” commentary (from the Sept. 15 edition of the Morgan Hill Times) regarding district elections. Not only is district voting a travesty, but it is an insult to every voter in our city!We do not need to be told how to vote or who to vote for. The fact is, our city council has enjoyed amazing representation of the diversity of Morgan Hill. When we had a choice to vote someone out of council and vote for a new candidate, we did. This district voting scheme is just that: another way for losing candidates to force themselves on the voting public!Look at what has happened at the Morgan Hill Unified School District! In the last election, we had one district with only one candidate, because other very qualified candidates lived outside that district.District elections narrow our choices and may very well force the voters to send an unqualified candidate to office.On the MHUSD board, we have a split board that rarely, if ever agrees with one another, and we have a board member that we know very little about that ran unopposed from her district. We, in Morgan Hill, deserve better than this on our school board and at city council!Please don’t insult our intelligence with district elections and term limits. Let the voters decide who is best qualified and aligns with our values in order to address the complicated issues we face.This insult is being forced upon us because of a few losers that ran and did not win want an advantage to their losing cause.A threat of a lawsuit is a challenge, not a reason to roll over and give these losers an advantage. Shame on us!Ever Onward,Swanee EdwardsMorgan Hill

Districts drawn for new city elections system

The next time Morgan Hill residents vote in a municipal election, they will only select a single choice for city council among candidates who reside within the newly established voting district where they live.As of Sept. 6, there are now four city council districts in Morgan Hill—equal in population—each to be represented by a single councilmember who lives inside that district. At the Sept. 6 meeting—after a series of public meetings and workshops and perusing more than a dozen draft maps created by a professional demographer and Morgan Hill citizens—the council approved a four-district map that will apply until the 2020 U.S. Census.This is a stark change from the way local voters have elected council members since the city was incorporated in 1906. Until now, councilmembers have always served the city on an at-large basis, and voters have typically voted for two councilmembers in each regular election (roughly every two years).Earlier this summer, the council begrudgingly approved the new by-district election system in response to a demand letter threatening a lawsuit under the California Voting Rights Act.Although councilmembers dislike the new system, they approved a district map that considers traditional specific neighborhood interests and protects the voting rights of all minority groups.“We tried to keep communities of interest and neighborhoods together. It’s not perfect, and it’s going to be really hard now to get good qualified candidates to run for city council,” Mayor Pro Tem Larry Carr said.The map approved by the council keeps current councilmembers (not including the mayor) in separate districts. Demographer Doug Johnson, who the city hired to help guide the council and the public through the districting process, said this is a common practice among agencies required to draw new districts because it respects the electorate’s desire to be able to choose the incumbents.The by-district system will start with the November 2018 election, when the seats occupied by Councilmembers Rich Constantine and Caitlin Jachimowicz will be on the ballot.Constantine’s district, labeled “District B” on the map, cuts a swath down the middle of Morgan Hill from the northern to the southern city limits. Jachimowicz’ district, known as “District D,” occupies the eastern side of Morgan Hill.The seats occupied by Councilmembers Larry Carr and Rene Spring will be elected within the new districts starting with the November 2020 election.“District A,” where Carr resides, goes from a corner of downtown Morgan Hill southwest past West Middle Avenue. “District C,” where Spring lives, occupies northwest Morgan Hill.The mayor’s seat will continue to be elected at large under the new system.Three of the districts contain at least a small geographic portion of downtown Morgan Hill, a neighborhood where councilmembers say many different interests for residents from all over the city coincide.In May, the council received a demand letter from Oakland law firm Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho, alleging that the city’s traditional at-large system violates the CVRA because it limits the influence of minority groups.The firm was hired by local Latino residents Armando Benavides, Sally Casas and Brenda Cayme. Benavides has previously run for Morgan Hill City Council and the Morgan Hill Unified School District Board of Trustees. In 2012, he was also involved in the effort to force MHUSD to switch from an at-large to a by-district system.Cayme has previously run for MHUSD trustee as well.By approving the change, the council aimed to protect the city from a potentially costly civil rights lawsuit. But it also forced the city to fast track the process of notifying the public and creating four new districts equal in population, without gerrymandering.Residents were encouraged to use online mapmaking tools provided by Johnson’s company, National Demographics Corporation, to draw districts for the council’s consideration. Six residents submitted such maps. The map ultimately approved by the council was proposed by NDC.“I continue to be disappointed that a couple of disgruntled people who have not been able to win an election in Morgan Hill have forced this on us,” Carr added. “I don’t think district elections will improve representation for anyone in Morgan Hill, and it will bring some unintended consequences we will have to work through.”

By-district elections: Draft council maps available for public feedback

More than a dozen city council district map proposals, submitted by residents and a professional demographer, are available for public review on a website created to set up the new election system.The draft maps can be viewed at drawmh.org, which provides a wealth of map drawing tools and demographic information about the City of Morgan Hill.Citizens can review the submitted draft maps and offer suggested changes, or create their own maps depicting four council districts equal in population, according to Morgan Hill Communications Manager Maureen Tobin. Residents can submit maps until Aug. 14.The city council is scheduled to approve an official four-district map in late August or early September. The map they approve will take effect with the November 2018 council election, and remain in place at least until the 2020 U.S. Census is completed.The five-member (including the mayor) Morgan Hill City Council approved the change from the current at-large election system to the new district-based system at their June 7 meeting. The change was a response to a demand letter from an Oakland law firm that claims the at-large system is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act because it limits the influence of minority groups.Under the by-district system, the city’s four council members will be elected by voters within the council district in which they reside. The mayor’s seat will continue to be elected on an at-large, citywide basis, according to city staff.By approving the change, the council aimed to protect the city from a potentially costly civil rights lawsuit. But it also forced the city to fast track the process of notifying the public and creating four new districts equal in population, without gerrymandering.The draft maps posted on drawmh.org include 10 “population balanced” maps with four districts each containing roughly 9,500 Morgan Hill residents. Seven of these were created by Morgan Hill residents. The other three were drawn by National Demographics Corporation, with whom the city contracted for $43,000 to help with the districting process.Also posted on the website are three maps created by residents that are not population balanced, and two maps that depict a single district.

By-district elections: Test your mapmaking skills

Only 10 members of the public showed up for a July 10 workshop encouraging participation from residents in shaping new Morgan Hill City Council election districts, but the experienced demographer hired by the city to gather data and coordinate the process described that as a “good turnout.”

By-district elections: City creates new website, schedules July 10 workshop

City officials posted a new website containing interactive maps, meeting and workshop schedules and information devoted to the upcoming switch to a by-district election system for electing city council members.The website, found at drawmh.org, allows residents and voters to participate in the effort to create four council districts within the city limits. The section titled “Draw a Map” allows voters to propose their own preferred district boundaries that reflect the area or areas they think should be represented by a single elected official.An “Interactive Map Viewer” features layers of data such as the boundaries of individual U.S. Census population units within the city limits, and the number of residents within each unit. Draft maps, to be created in the coming weeks with input gathered from the public and a professional demographer, will be posted to the website.The site, which can be viewed in English and Spanish, also gives voters instructions on how to draw a proposed district map—on paper or electronically—and submit it to city officials.“The primary goal when drawing council election districts is to draw lines that keep neighborhoods together. So the council wants to know: what do you consider the boundaries of your neighborhood?” reads the “Welcome” section of the website.The next chance for voters to interact in person with city officials regarding the effort to draw new council districts will be at a July 10 community workshop, from 7 to 9 p.m. at City Council meeting chambers, 17555 Peak Ave.Under the by-district election system, each district will be represented by a single council member who resides within that district. Voters within each district will elect only one council member to represent them.This is a stark change from the at-large system that has elected council members for the last 100-plus years. Under that system, all voters throughout Morgan Hill could vote on every council seat that was up for election, regardless of where in the city each candidate lived.The council voted June 7 to make the change to a by-district system, in response to a “demand letter” from an Oakland law firm denouncing the at-large system as being in violation of the California Voting Rights Act. By adopting the change, the council is taking advantage of legal protections that limit the damages and costs that can be claimed in a potential civil rights lawsuit.The by-district system will start November 2018, when two seats—currently occupied by Councilman Rich Constantine and Councilwoman Caitlin Jachimowicz—will be up for grabs. The other two seats—now held by Mayor Pro Tem Larry Carr and Councilman Rene Spring—will be subject to the by-district change when they next appear on the ballot in November 2020.The mayor of Morgan Hill will continue to be elected at large under the change, according to city staff and drawmh.org. The mayor serves a two-year term.The May 2 demand letter from Oakland law firm Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho, alleges that the current at-large system results in “vote dilution” and prevents under-represented groups such as Latino voters from “influencing the results of elections.”The city council has held two public hearings—on June 21 and June 28—on the election system change since it was adopted.At the June 28 meeting, Douglas Johnson, President of the National Demographics Corporation, gave a presentation about NDC’s proposal to offer mapping and demographic services to the city during the transition to a by-district system.Public meetings and workshops on the subject will continue until Aug. 23, when the council is expected to adopt official district maps created with input from the voters and NDC.NDC has recently offered similar services to the Morgan Hill Unified School District, when its seven-member board of trustees voted to change to a by-district election system in 2015, also under threat of a lawsuit. It has also offered redistricting services for the Santa Clara Valley Water District.The company’s contract with the City of Morgan Hill cost $43,000.

Council strives to alert every voter about election change

Local officials and members of the public have many unanswered questions about the details and logistics of Morgan Hill’s imminent switch from an at-large to a by-district election system, which the current council claims was forced upon them by the threat of a costly lawsuit.What happens if nobody tosses their hat in the ring to become a candidate in one or more of the new districts in an upcoming council election, leaving the voters in that geographic area with no one to elect? Can the city’s voters continue to elect its mayor on an at-large basis, or would this also violate the California Voting Rights Act, as at least one private attorney contends?On June 21, the Morgan Hill City Council held its first public hearing since deciding earlier this month to implement district elections, starting with the November 2018 balloting. The June 7 decision to make the switch was in response to a “demand letter,” dated May 2, from the law firm Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho, alleging that the current at-large system, in which every voter inside the city limits gets to elect every seat on the council, violates the CVRA.Specifically, the at-large system—which the city has used since it was incorporated in 1906—results in “vote dilution” and prevents under-represented groups such as Latino voters from “influencing the results of elections,” according to the demand letter.The same law firm sent a similar letter to the Morgan Hill Unified School District in 2015, subsequently prompting the district’s seven-member board of trustees to make a switch to by-district voting.Based on council discussion June 21, city staff is recommending the council “create four voting districts in which each council member must live within the district they wish to represent, and voters may only vote for candidates within their voting district.”The staff report continues, “Any changes to the procedures for electing the mayor would need to be approved by the voters. Staff is not recommending placing a measure on the ballot at this time. Under staff’s recommendation, the mayor will continue to be directly elected through an at-large election allowing all residents (within) the city to vote for mayor.”There is a difference of opinion on whether an at-large mayor also violates the CVRA if the remaining council members are elected within individual districts. Attorney Mike Baller, who signed the May 2 letter from Goldstein, Borgen, said the council will not meet its requirements under the CVRA if it keeps the mayor’s seat elected at large.City staff is currently working out a contract with National Demographics Corporation to provide “experience, technical expertise and legal/political know-how to assist the city with a successful and inclusive transition to by-district elections,” reads the staff report. This work will include drawing the four geographic council representation districts within the city limits.The city is also planning an “extensive engagement effort” to make sure residents and voters are aware of the change. This effort includes distributing information in both English and Spanish, and an interpreter was available for Spanish speakers at the June 21 meeting.The public outreach process also includes periodic email blasts to residents—such as a June 22 message from city spokeswoman Maureen Tobin—and a series of upcoming public hearings. The next two public hearings are scheduled for June 28 and July 10 at council meeting chambers, 17575 Peak Ave.“During its discussions, the city…will strive to have an open, transparent and inclusive process,” Tobin’s email says. “More information will be available very soon, and we want to alert all residents of the need for your input and participation in establishing city council districts in Morgan Hill.”Reluctant changeMorgan Hill resident Doug Muirhead echoed council members’ views on the likely effectiveness of attracting Latino candidates under a district-based election system.“Changes to district elections under threat of legal action doesn’t guarantee that minority representation will happen,” Muirhead said June 21. “That’s the discussion I wish we were having.”He also wondered, “If we have a district, and no candidate applies, what happens to that seat?”When Councilmember Gordon Siebert resigned from the council halfway through his four-year term in 2016, the council eventually appointed Caitlin Jachimowicz to complete his unexpired term. That process started with an application and public interview process, in which more than 20 candidates participated.But the current council doesn’t even know if they would follow a similar process if confronted with a nameless ballot in a district election.Morgan Hill resident and Gavilan College Trustee Jonathan Brusco also addressed the council June 21, offering his experience from when the community college’s board switched to district voting in 2015—also under threat of a lawsuit.“It probably will not give you the best candidates,” Brusco said.Mayor Pro Tem Larry Carr said the most difficult part will be ensuring voters know about the change to a by-district system before it kicks in November 2018, which is crucial because the change is so drastic and fundamentally different from how local voters have elected their councilmembers in every election until now.Carr noted that when MHUSD implemented its by-district election system, even after a lengthy public outreach process, many voters still wondered in November 2016 why they were only voting for a single candidate.He also offered his criticism of the district-based system, and questioned whether it would attract high-quality candidates.“You can’t handicap (an election) and make a council good,” Carr said. “That’s all this is doing. I’m afraid it’s going to start politicizing everything.”By approving the change to by-district elections June 7—albeit reluctantly—the council “will take advantage of legal protection that enables cities to have a say in district boundaries and avoid costly litigation,” reads Tobin’s June 22 email.Staff reports and video recordings of the June 7 and June 21 council discussions can be found on the city’s website, morganhill.ca.gov.

Letters to the editor: District elections, Community Based Instruction

Many questions about district electionsDear Morgan Hill City Council,At the City Council meeting on June 7, you decided on your own to change to District elections for Council members.You had a very clear example that our residents will step forward on short notice and at a challenging time of the year to prepare applications and attend interview sessions. Over 20 well-qualified residents expressed their interest in filling the vacancy left by Gordon Siebert at the end of last year.Yet you claimed that the short time period and challenging time of the year prevented you from forming a Citizen Advisory Committee. So your direction to staff is to support workshops (which currently have no definition). Historically, most public comment at your meetings and workshops are one-way input to you, not actual discussion and debate.If a district has no candidates, does the council do an appointment? If so, would that be the same process that was used to replace Mr. Siebert?When you have formed districts, under what conditions could we still be sued for bias?How will district boundaries evolve over time? Does this become an issue with the city’s Residential Development Control System?What is the definition of equitable representation?Who represents those who are financially insecure?Who represents those who live in apartments or mobile home parks?Given the very different levels of resident involvement in our last election campaign and the following appointment process, we should have had a city-wide  discussion on how to get more residents involved in selecting who decides how our city operates. Instead, we get a mandatefrom council to go to district elections for council members.More than once, Council member Rich Constantine stated that the city had done nothing wrong. Yet you chose to be stampeded by the lawyer trolls. And it was a choice for you to make, even though you claimed that the outcome was forced on you by the cost/benefit analysis.Thank you for your consideration,Doug MuirheadMorgan Hill Thanks for promoting WorkAbilityThe Morgan Hill Unified School District WorkAbility/TPP office would like to take a moment and thank those business who have signed on to open their doors to our students to assist them in learning and practicing new job skills. Please patronise these merchants and thank them for giving back to our community.If your business is interested in investing in the youth of Morgan Hill in this way, please give us a call at (408) 201-6300 ex. 42217. The student’s salary and workers compensation insurance are paid by the district, so it is a win-win!The following businesses have signed on so far: Ace Hardware/Johnson Nursery, Advance Haircuts, Bargain Hunters Outlet, Community Garage and Towing/Ponzinis, Goodwill of Silicon Valley, Granada Theatre / Willow Heights Mansion, GVA Cafe, Made in Japan/Europe/USA, Massive Sounds with DJ Guy, Maurizio's, Morgan Hill Foods, Prova California Table, Rosy’s at the Beach, St. Vincent de Paul’s Thrift Shop, TJ Maxx, Top Knot Salon and YMCA/CRC.WorkAbility I and the Transition Partnership Program of Morgan Hill Unified is a program for high school students in special education. For five weeks beginning June 19, a group of 14- to 21-year-olds will be hitting Morgan Hill for some Community Based Instruction (CBI).The purpose of CBI is to promote each student’s community knowledge through instruction, participation and real world experience.CBI combines functional academics, social skills and job skills. Students practice essential life skills like how to purchase items, order lunch and make sure they have received the correct change. They learn how to dress for work, fill out time cards complete with proper signature, and how to be independent and confident in their community.We hope to meet you while we are out and about this summer!Catherine CanoMHUSD Job Developer