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Morgan Hill
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May 22, 2022

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.

South County woman sentenced to jail for role in U.S. Capitol breach

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., sentenced Mariposa Castro, of Gilroy, to 45 days in jail Feb. 23 for her participation in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Castro, also known as Imelda Castro, was also ordered to pay a $5,000...

Supervisors buy land for affordable housing projects

Santa Clara County supervisors approved a quartet of housing projects March 22 that will convert existing properties into more than 300 affordable housing units. The board unanimously approved the purchase of four properties—two in San Jose, one in Morgan Hill and one in Santa Clara—that...

Residents—including former mayor—threaten to sue city over redistricting

Four Morgan Hill residents—including former longtime Mayor Steve Tate—are threatening to sue the city over the council’s recent approval of a redistricting map that they say is illegal under state law.  Attorney Christopher Skinnell, of the San Rafael-based Nielsen Merksamer law firm, sent a demand...

City Council inches toward new districts

The Morgan Hill City Council has narrowed down its potential new district boundaries to a choice of five draft maps, but officials disagree on whether all of them would stand up to state laws regulating the electoral redistricting process. In recent months, the council and...

Lawyer who threatened to sue Morgan Hill now defends city in redistricting dispute

Morgan Hill’s city attorney has recused himself from a lawsuit filed by former Mayor Steve Tate earlier this month over city council redistricting. Defending the city from the legal action instead is a local lawyer who had threatened to sue the council if it...

Downtown lane reduction measure goes to Nov. 8 ballot

Morgan Hill’s voters will get to decide in the Nov. 8 election if any future attempt to reduce the number of lanes of Monterey Road through the city’s downtown should be determined by a popular citywide vote. But it’s possible the city council will implement...

City Council hosts redistricting workshop Feb. 16

The deadline to submit a City Council redistricting map for consideration by the elected council is 5pm Jan. 31, according to city staff. All draft maps are available for public review on the city’s redistricting webpage at http://www.morgan-hill.ca.gov/2182/Draft-Maps. A City Council workshop will be held at...

Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith will not seek re-election

Facing corruption probes and a potential trial that could expel her from office, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said Thursday she will not run for reelection and will retire when her sixth term ends in January. Smith, who was the first woman to be...

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