School and Municipal Candidates Prepare to Run

Five people bidding for two open seats this November
Morgan Hill – With an extended application period ending this Wednesday at 5pm, five potential city council candidates have taken out nomination packets and two have turned them in.

Completed papers have been received from Alex Kennett and incumbent Greg Sellers. Other candidates who have not yet turned in packets are Marby Lee, Christopher Borello and Al Tervalon.

The candidates each named fiscal responsibility and economic growth as key issues facing Morgan Hill. The four newcomers – they haven’t run before – touted their ability to bring a fresh perspective.

There are two seats up for grabs in this year’s council race. The top two vote-getters win four-year terms. All in all, there are four council members and one mayor who is elected separately to a two-year term.

Incumbent Councilman Steve Tate has decided not to seek re-election to the council, opting instead to run for mayor. Mayor Dennis Kennedy is not seeking re-election. The fact that two incumbents – Tate and Kennedy – are not running for re-election to their current posts means the filing period for candidates was automatically extended five days, from Friday, Aug. 11 until Wednesday, Aug. 16.

Lee, 40, is a freelance graphic designer and jewelry maker who has lived in Morgan Hill for 10 years. She sees her candidacy as a reaction to the status quo.

“We need to keep moving forward, thinking out of the box,” Lee said. “I want our downtown to grow and be successful and compelling, and draw in more residents. We need to work with merchants and property owners to find the right balance, find something that works for downtown with the new (650,000-square-foot) Cochrane Avenue shopping center” expected to open next year.

Lee has been active on library issues and was a member of Citizens for a Civic Center Library, a grass-roots organization formed to keep the Morgan Hill branch of the library at its current location rather than a proposed spot downtown. Currently she is a member of the Morgan Hill Chapter of American Association of University Women, and a member of Las Madres of Morgan Hill, a group for parents with infants, toddlers and preschool children.

Tervalon, 40, is an engineer with 19 years experience in the high-tech industry. He claims to be an astute problem solver with an edge for analytic thinking.

“I’m a good big-picture guy,” Tervalon said. “I’m used to working on complex problems with big solutions.” His ideas include encouraging more of a “downtown atmosphere” with added shops and restaurants and localizing the city’s power grid.

“It would be great to learn from Palo Alto and Santa Clara on how to run our own power grid so we could be immune to rolling blackouts,” Tervalon said.

Borello, 25, is the youngest candidate in the city council race. He’s eager to prove he can handle the responsibility of office.

“I strongly believe in fiscal responsibility and believe that I am the voice of reason and change that the city needs,” Borello said.

Borello works full-time as a realtor. He owns a home in town with his wife and said if elected he would focus on smart growth, strengthening the police department and reducing the city’s budget deficit.

Sellers, 44, is the lone incumbent in the council race. He is seeking his third term after being elected in 1998 and 2002.

“I feel like the city council has provided solid leadership and we’ve done a lot in the last eight years,” said Sellers, who is chairman of the city’s Community and Economic Development Committee. “I’d like to continue that leadership and continue a few projects that are important to the future of Morgan Hill, such as building the new library and adding more public safety and fire services.”

Topping his agenda are the extension of the Redevelopment Agency with a “narrow focus” on economic development and affordable housing, exploring affordable ways to expand fire services and finding ways to make Morgan Hill’s new public facilities, such as the library and Aquatics Center, financially successful.

Kennett, 59, has been active in community affairs for more than two decades, having helped save Morgan Hill’s annual Fourth of July parade in 1991 during a city fiscal crisis. He hopes to appeal to voters with a track record of business ownership and environmental stewardship. He ran his own food brokerage company for 22 years, served as president and executive director of the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce and currently serves in an elected post as District One Director of the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority.

“I feel Morgan Hill is at a crossroads,” Kennett said. “We can improve or we can stay the same. Right now, the city doesn’t know where its next dollar is coming from and that needs to change if we are to get better, but necessarily bigger.”

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