Voters rallied around the incumbents in Morgan Hill’s City Council election Tuesday, with the victors labeling the results a clear endorsement of city policies, goals and strategies put in place over the last two years.
The final unofficial results from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters show that city council members Larry Carr and Marilyn Librers will retain their seats on the dais.
The two council members topped the list of four candidates after Tuesday’s election, with challengers Joseph Carrillo and Matt Wendt rounding out the field.
The top two vote-getters won the two available seats.
Carr was the top vote winner with about 37 percent or 5,454 popular votes. Librers came in second place with about 26 percent or 3,865 popular votes.
Carrillo, the owner of Grizzly Bear Handyman service, and Wendt, a real estate attorney, each won about 18 percent of the popular vote.
Librers and Carr celebrated across the street from each other downtown Tuesday night – with Librers hosting a campaign thank-you party at Ladera Grill, and Carr joining his supporters, including Mayor Steve Tate who ran unopposed, at Rosy’s At The Beach restaurant. Wendt held a similar event for his supporters down the street at Bubbles Wine Bar, though it didn’t turn into the celebration he hoped for.
The registrar’s office reported a total countywide turnout of about 56 percent, with about 460,000 of the county’s 818,000 voters casting ballots.
Carr, the vice president of public relations at San Jose State University, said he is “honored” to have won re-election. He said the fact that he and Librers – the two incumbents – were elected to retain their seats is a validation of the current council’s work over the last four years.
“I’m pleased that Morgan Hill voters think the council is doing a good job in returning both Marilyn and I, and of course (Mayor Steve Tate) as our mayor again,” Carr said. “This vote was a statement as much about what the council has been doing as it was a vote on any individual council member.”
Carr will begin his fourth term on the council when he is sworn in for the new term in December.
Librers in December will begin her second term, during which she expects the “claw-back” of the former redevelopment agency’s assets by the state will require a lot of attention from the city. She also plans to continue the city’s “sustainable budget strategy” to replenish the general fund reserves.
“I’m honored to serve the Morgan Hill community for four more years,” Librers said. “I am happy to contribute my knowledge and experience.”
Wendt, 31, said Tuesday night that the results will not stop him from trying again, as he plans to run again for a council seat, perhaps by the next election.
Carr added that Wendt was a “great candidate.”
“We should all be proud to have people like Matt in our community who want to serve Morgan Hill,” Carr said.
Carrillo also plans to run again, “for every election” he can, he said. He ran for council in 2010, but was defeated in that race as well.
Carrillo added he knew going into Tuesday’s race that incumbents have an advantage, but he was pleased that the number of votes he received was higher than his vote tally in 2010. He learned this time around that “politics is tricky,” citing the ongoing removal of some of his political signs from Butterfield Boulevard during the campaign, which he had to replace several times.
“Any time there’s an election, I try to run to stay busy and get more well-known,” Carrillo said.
Mayor Steve Tate ran for re-election as well, but he was unopposed. He received 8,327 votes in Tuesday’s election, according to the registrar’s office.
Tate said Tuesday night he is ready to get started on the city’s general plan update to incorporate several ongoing efforts to shape and control how the city will grow for the next decade.
Tate will start his fourth term as mayor on Dec. 1, the same day the two council winners will start their new terms.
“The candidates that ran for council all endorsed what we’re doing, and that’s a strong endorsement of the way we’re functioning as a city,” Tate said Tuesday night, referring to the city’s budget strategies.
The upcoming general plan update, a lengthy process that Tate wants to start “right away” after the election, will establish the long-term guidelines for how the city will approach any coming growth, in terms of traffic and parking, public safety, land development and residential growth.
One thing that is certain to be new – and challenging – in the update is a renewed downtown revitalization plan, as the current plan has relied on substantial funding from the former redevelopment agency, which the state closed as of Feb. 1, Tate explained.
The updated general plan will also include plans to develop the southeast quadrant, and how to keep the city’s complex residential growth control system but “reform” it so it’s not so bogged down with backlogged home allotments that haven’t been built, Tate said.
Also running unopposed for city offices were Irma Torrez for city clerk, who received 7,608 votes, and Mike Roorda for city treasurer, who received 7,259 votes.
Countywide, remaining to be counted by election officials are about 180,000 vote-by-mail ballots and about 35,000 provisional ballots, according to the registrar’s office.