An incumbent, an author, a grandfather - Morgan Hill Times: Elections

Election 2012 An incumbent, an author, a grandfather

Three of six candidates for MHUSD school board give insight into why they’re running and deserve your vote

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Posted: Monday, September 24, 2012 7:09 pm

When it comes to the election to fill three seats on the Morgan Hill Unified school board – whatever level of experience and background a voter prefers, this ballot boasts it.

Voters can choose from an appointed board member with more than a year of experience, a local businessman and father of two young kids, an author and active community volunteer, a mother of a teen who's well-connected in that community, a grandfather of future MHUSD students who wants to give back and an active mom who wants to see academic change, like she’s seen at her children’s school.

Today, in part one of the question-and-answer format for candidates, readers will learn more about Bob Benevento, Marty Cheek and Stephen Klem. You can read all 11 questions and answers online at

Bob Benevento – the only incumbent (though he was appointed, not elected by the people) – is a 62-year-old father and small business owner. He’s been on the board since 2010 after getting enough backing from current board members to win the appointment after former Trustee Julia Hover Smoot won a seat on the Santa Clara County Board of Education.

He beat out other candidates with impressive resumes – touting principal jobs and positions within MHUSD. Now Benevento is asking for his first four-year term.

Marty Cheek said he’s considered and even been requested by other residents to run for local political office many times over, but not until now did he feel moved to jump in. The author, Morgan Hill Times columnist (who, by newspaper policy is on leave while seeking public office) and Morgan Hill Access Television volunteer doesn’t have children, but with a teacher for a father and a goal to engage everyone involved so children can achieve – Cheek, 45, is eager to serve.

First-time candidate Stephen Klem, 63, is a father of two grown children – one is a teacher at Barrett Elementary. Klem says he’s a good manager and organizer who wants to give back to the school district, where his grandchildren will attend. He was involved at Martin Murphy Middle School. He has been a salesman for the past 30 years at Slakey Brothers, a wholesale heating and air conditioning company.

The three seats became vacant after Peter Mandel and Kathy Sullivan decided not to seek re-election after two terms each, and Benevento’s appointed term is expiring. Rick Badillo, Brenda Cayme and Amy Porter Jensen will also appear on the ballot. The top three candidates with the most votes on Nov. 6 will win seats on the seven-member board of trustees.

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