Thursday night is a chance to hear from the candidates who are asking for votes from Morgan Hill residents. It’s also a chance to become educated and informed on the local election (and give your own input through write-in questions in the lobby) that will decide who will represent the city on City Council and the Morgan Hill Unified School Board.
The American Association of University Women and the Morgan Hill Times are co-sponsoring the candidate forum, which begins at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Community Playhouse on Fifth Street and Monterey Road. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
The forum is an opportunity to meet the candidates face-to-face, “and hear their views on issues that affect you and your community. You can develop a more informed opinion of the candidates, which will help you select who you think will best represent you when you go to the polls in November,” said Nancy Lowe, who will moderate the forum.
To start the forum, Mayor Steve Tate, who is running unopposed and is seeking his fourth two-year term, will speak on current issues the city and City Council are facing.
“Expect to come away a better-informed voter,” Lowe said. “During the forum you will hear prepared statements from each candidate as well as candidates’ responses to questions from the community. We also expect most or all of the candidates to be there before and after the forum to ‘meet and greet’ the public.”
For the City Council and school board forums, candidates will be asked to start with an opening statement, will be given the opportunity to answer questions and give a closing statement. Not all candidates will be asked the same questions.
The candidates hoping for a four-year City Council term are Larry Carr, Joseph Carrillo, Marilyn Librers and Matt Wendt. There are two seats open because Carr and Librers’ current terms are expiring. The city-focused segment is planned to go until about 8 p.m.
As for the board of education race, Rick Badillo, Bob Benevento, Marty Cheek and Steve Klem are planning to attend to answer questions to demonstrate why they’re qualified. Candidates Brenda Cayme and Amy Porter Jensen have said they will not attend the forum. Three seats are open this election after two eight-year veteran school board members decided not to seek re-election and Benevento’s appointment expires.
Kathy Sullivan, who is one of the school board members who will be replaced on account of her decision to not run again and part of the forum planning committee, said that the lack of involvement by some school board candidates is upsetting.
Neither Cayme nor Jensen have attended any school board meetings since June 12, when the board began introducing candidates in attendance to the public, according to meeting minutes.
Sullivan’s concern is when voters review their ballot and see the names of two women - who have not been forthcoming of their goals and unresponsive to calls from the community who want to learn more about them - they might simply vote for a woman without knowing anything about them.
“It’s the level of commitment. If you’re not willing to go to meetings, or let us know (your vision), how can you ask for our votes?” Sullivan said.
“If you’re not going to put in the hard work beforehand, the work up-front... It’s just troubling,” she said.
The Morgan Hill Federation of Teachers via the South Bay Labor Council has endorsed Benevento, Cheek and Klem. MHFT President Theresa Sage said Cayme did not interview and Porter Jensen has said she is “not actively running.”
“We think (the candidates we endorsed) will be strong board members, who support public education and support the positive work teachers and classified staff are all doing,” Sage said.
The first day vote-by-mail ballots and early voting begins is Oct. 8. For more information on how to register to vote, go to www.sccgov.org/sites/rov/Pages/Registrar-of-Voters.aspx. At the forum, residents can register to vote and pick up more information on the candidates.
Also, this Saturday at 10 a.m., a “chat with the candidates” event will take place at 17500 Depot St., Granary Building. Benevento and Cheek organized what they call an “informal meeting” with councilwoman Librers “to find ways to benefit both the school district and the community with greater collaboration.”
All candidates for the Morgan Hill school board have been invited to attend the event.
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