Our view: Sellers for Mayor

Yes on cannabis, hotel taxes; No on appointed city clerk

Greg Sellers, of the three candidates for mayor of Morgan Hill, understands best the new role for the mayor in our new system of district representation.

The new mayor will be the only elected city-wide representative on the City Council after the Nov. 6 election, and Sellers has expressed a clear vision of the need for a mayor who can provide leadership for the city and its citizens, and for the council.

In his time away from the council where he served for 12 years, Sellers has been a keen observer of the new challenges facing Morgan Hill as it struggles to retain its small-city character while courting new residents and new employers. The solar industry executive has a clear appreciation for the need to balance the pressure for growth with the needs of neighborhoods.

Before his election to the council in 1998, Sellers was executive director of the Morgan Hill Downtown Revitalization Program, which established the vision for a downtown that is the envy of many cities in Santa Clara County.

He was one of the founders of the Taste of Morgan Hill, and has been active in a wide range of community events and organizations. His experience in serving Morgan Hill is nearly unparalleled, from his 12 years on the council to roles with the local historical society, the Valley Transportation Authority and many others.

One of his opponents, San Jose firefighter and Morgan Hill Councilmember Rich Constantine, has been a conscientious councilmember in his two terms on the council. He has shown that he is a good listener and a thoughtful advocate for controlled growth. He doesn’t, however, seem to understand either the value or the challenges of the new system of district representation, or the fact that the role of mayor will be very different in the years ahead.

Kirk Bertolet, a VTA mechanic, has expressed a commitment to serve, and to be a strong advocate for the city. But his campaign has not demonstrated the skills to be effective.

Sellers would follow a popular mayor, Steve Tate, and has received his endorsement. We respect and value Tate’s contributions to the city, and share his assessment of Sellers as someone who can deliver the kind of leadership needed here.

In addition to the mayor and council choices, Morgan Hill voters are being asked to vote on four local ballot measures.

• An increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax from 10 to 11 percent (Measure H) is long overdue. It is estimated to generate about $270,000 in new revenue from guests at local hotels, for the city’s general fund.

• The Cannabis Tax ballot measure, Measure I, doesn’t lift the current local restrictions prohibiting cannabis business in Morgan Hill. But it would establish the basis for significant tax revenues if the council later allows commercial cannabis, and will show the extent of public support in the city for California’s newest industry. It makes no sense for Morgan Hill to not take advantage of the tax bonanza that a carefully managed cannabis ordinance could generate. Approval of Measure I would be an important first step in this direction.

• Measure J would change the office of city clerk from an elected to an appointed position. Electing local officials is an important opportunity for citizens, and we see no reason to take away this right for a job that demands public responsiveness and accountability.

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