As the 2018 election inches closer, candidates have been competing to collect contributions for their campaigns.
In the race for mayor, Greg Sellers has raised more than twice as much as opponents combined.
Sellers and one of his opponents, Councilmember Rich Constantine, said they had set fundraising goals at $20,000. Sellers has met his goal, according to reports filed with the city clerk. Constantine has raised about 40 percent of his target. Kirk Bertolet, who is running against Sellers and Constantine, has chosen to self-fund his campaign.
The Fair Political Practices Committee (FPPC), requires candidates to complete a series of forms that declare campaign finance activities in the interest of public transparency. All Morgan Hill candidate’s FPPC filings are available on the city website at https://public.netfile.com/pub2/Default.aspx?aid=MGH.
Sellers reported $20,823 in monetary contributions and $150 in non-monetary contributions. A non-monetary contribution is a service provided to the candidate not at market rate, like a free space to hold a campaign event or rally. The contribution would be what that space would typically cost to rent. In total Sellers has raised $20,973.
Current Councilmember Caitlin Jachimowicz gave $250 to the Sellers campaign. 30th Assembly candidate and current San Benito County Supervisor, Robert Rivas gave $100. The Committee, “Tate for Mayor” also contributed $100.
Sellers received large contributions from, Diane Telfer Property manager South County Realty for $1000, South Valley Internet San Martin for $1500, Mr. Bruce Zhang Real estate broker uBay Corp for $1000, El Toro Group LLC SAN JOSE for $2000 and Fountain Oaks Ranch Morgan Hill for $1000. These are not all of Seller’s filings, others can be found at
Sellers said his acceptance of contributions from Tech companies, real estate agents or developers has no bearing on how he would work as Mayor, but that companies and individuals donated to his campaign because they felt he was a fair candidate.
In his email statement Sellers told the Times, “[The contributors] know that while I will not always support them I will approach issues with an open mind and listen to their thoughts. I had a local real estate broker give me a donation, and I told him at the time that I did not like a project he had recently gotten through the current City Council. He said he understood but was supporting me anyway because he knew I would always be willing to talk and would consider each issue on its merits. That’s what I tried to do when I was on the City Council, and what I will try to do as Mayor.”
In his emailed statement Sellers told the Times, he came up with a $20,000-$25,000 budget he believed he would need to make his campaign possible. Sellers also said he made the decision not to accept money from Political Action Committee and not to self finance his campaign.
He credits meeting contribution goals to local support and said the median campaign contribution for the 110 donors came out to $100.
Some contributions for the Sellers and Constantine campaign overlap.
Rich Constantine has reported $8,420 in monetary contributions and $229.55 in non-monetary contributions with a $8,649.55 total. His original fundraising goal was $20,000, although the campaign can continue to receive contributions.
State Senator, William Monning contributed $500 and the committee Cindy Chavez Supervisor Santa Clara County gave $500.
Other notable contributions to Constantine’s campaign came from the San Jose Fire Fighters, Local 230 Political Action Account for $1000, Schall Strategies LLC for $500 and HNTB Holdings LTD PAC for $250.
Constantine said the contribution from HNTB Holding came from Ben Tripouses, who had previously worked at the high-speed rail authority. “He appreciated my approach and professionalism and said he would like to give to my campaign,” said Constantine.
The infrastructure solutions firm, HNTB also made a contribution to Seller’s Mayoral campaign. Seller’s said he knows Tripouses from his time on the board of the VTA. Both candidates said Tripouses was interested in their campaigns because of his familial ties to the city.
Constantine currently works as a firefighter in San Jose. He said his other donations came from friends. He has been hosting fundraising events and said, “when you’re running for office you have to ask people for money.”
Kirk Bertolet hasn’t filed any contributions reports. He said this is because he does not want to feel beholden to those giving making the contributions. “This is just my personal philosophy,” Bertolet wrote to the Times. “If I do not win the election because I did not take the money I will sleep better at night knowing I have never been influenced by money.”
In the race for District D, John McKay has out raised his opponents, Marilyn Librers and Julie Hutchison Makrai. He contributed a $10,000 loan to his campaign.
Marilyn Librers’ campaign has raised $904 total for the 2018 filings and $355 of those were less than $100 each, where the specifics of contributors are not reported. Librers began with a cash balance of $5,742.05 from her past campaign which she re-allocated to fund her 2018 candidacy.
She said she used surplus from her 2016 race for council to kick-start her campaign. Librers told the Times she does not believe in self- funding her own campaign, but that she is “up to the task” of gaining contributions.
“Campaigns are expensive and contributions are needed for signs, flyers, events, newspaper ads and all the other items related to winning this race,” said Librers.
John McKay has received $2,692 in monetary contributions so far. He has also utilized a $10,000 loan he and his wife made his campaign, with his campaign totaling at $12,692.
McKay has received contributions from Fountain Oaks Ranch, LLC for $250, Knopf Construction, Inc. for $200 and Winemaker Mr. Michael Samppognaro for $500.
The campaign also received a $100 contribution from the committee, Larry Carr for City Council.
McKay told the Times that companies on his filings belong to friends he has met through his role in the community at the Tourism Alliance or the Downtown Association. He said he considers donations to his campaign to be endorsements.
“I am not seeking endorsements or donations from any political organizations,” said McKay. “I saw their questionnaires and refuse to be bound by some of the commitments expected and frankly can’t say I agree with everything any of them said.”
He said the contributions he has received are from people who, “know what he is about.”
Julie Makrai Hutcheson
Julie Makrai Hutcheson has currently received $6,770 in monetary contributions, $586 in non-monetary with a $7,356 total.
Current council member Rene Spring, who is acting as Hutcheson’s Campaign Manager, contributed $2,000 to the campaign. Carolyn Tognetti, who was active in the city of Gilroy in passing Measure G, the city’s growth control measure, gave $500 to the campaign. Hutcheson told the Times that the two are friends.
Contributions that came from outside Morgan Hill, Hutcheson said have been made by friends who understand he passion for the city. “They have worked with me, know I really care about Morgan Hill, know I’m well qualified for the job of Council Member, and that I have been a strong advocate for responsible growth in Morgan Hill,” said Hutcheson.
In District B Ken Murray has outraised opponents, Yvonne Martínez-Beltrán and Matt Loewenstein. Murray received a substantial contribution and chose to loan the campaign money. Loewenstein has so far chosen not to fundraise.
Yvonne Martínez-Beltrán has currently raised $3,245 in monetary contributions, $353 in non-monetary in addition to a $1,620 loan she gave her campaign for a $5,418.09 total.
Current council member, Rene Spring gave $100 to the campaign. Martínez-Beltrán said the money she loaned her campaign was used to kick-start the campaign and pay for initial costs before she was able to garner fundraising support.
“We have taken a grassroots approach to fundraising- by the community and for the community! It’s difficult to ask people to donate their hard earned money,” said Martínez-Beltrán “However, I didn’t have a choice because we do not have the luxury to fund a campaign.”
Kenneth Murray’s campaign has currently received $2,506 in monetary contributions, in addition to a $7,000 loan he said he and his wife chose to give the campaign. He also received $800 in non-monetary contributions, bringing his campaign to a $10,306 total.
The largest contribution came from the Holiday Inn Express for $2,000. Murray told the Times he has gotten to know local business owners through his time with the Chamber of Commerce. Murray said he gained business support because local owners trust him,” based on their experiences with me as a person, my integrity, business acumen and the ability to get things done. They know I will “move the needle” on jobs / economic development”
Murray said he and his wife collectively made the decision to loan his campaign money because, “Connie and I believe that our Council needs the leadership and experience that I have demonstrated during my career.”
With no current contributions, Matthew Loewenstein said he may be amending his filings in the coming week if he chooses to accept donations from organizations he says have reached out to his campaign.
Loewenstein said he intentionally did not accept campaign contributions up until this point. “I feel very strongly that the biggest problem with American politics is the negative effect money has on politicians, government and out entire political system. Too much money, even at the state and local levels, leads to corruption and a distortion of the political process that results in citizens not being properly represented by their elected officials,” Loewenstein told the Times.