In an otherwise cordial candidate forum, hosted Oct. 8 at Ann Sobrato High School in Morgan Hill, Santa Clara County Board Incumbent Claudia Rossi went on the offensive—questioning the character and judgment of Gino Borgioli, her lone opponent in the District 7 race.
Rossi held little back as she lambasted Borgioli, who she accused of being covertly involved in an unsuccessful recall movement of former Morgan Hill Unified School Board President Bob Benevento; a co-conspirator in the offensive email scandal doled out by current MHUSD Trustee David Gerard; and unsupportive in helping out former MHUSD Trustee Amy Porter-Jensen when she felt harassed by a local activist who is now running for a seat on the MHUSD board.
“We can’t be held accountable if we don’t admit to our misdeeds,” said Rossi, who divided her time between answering prepared questions asked by Sobrato students and reminding the 100 or so audience members of Borgioli’s past actions while on the MHUSD Board of Trustees. Each candidate was given one minute to answer each question.
Borgioli is in his final year of a four-year term on the same local school board that Rossi served on prior to winning the county seat in 2014. He is now challenging Rossi for her spot on the County Board of Education.
“I’m not gonna let (Rossi) get away with a bunch of lies. I did not lead a recall campaign. That was done by community members,” said Borgioli, who also denied being part of the 2015 email scandal stating he was only “CC’d” on the unsavory correspondences authored by Gerard. The Morgan Hill Times broke that story after making a public records request to the district office.
Borgioli also defended his vote not to allow MHUSD’s legal counsel to assist Porter-Jensen in her restraining order filing and harassment claim against then-recall movement leader Robert Guynn, who is now running for the Trustee Area 4 seat on the MHUSD board. Borgioli explained that those legal services were reserved for current trustees and, since Porter-Jensen had resigned, she no longer had access to them.
Porter-Jensen was granted a temporary restraining order against Guynn, who she alleged to have bombarded her with unwanted emails and phone calls while she was on the school board. However, she did not pursue extending the restraining order and Guynn never faced any criminal charges.
“She resigned for fear of her safety,” said Rossi, as she related the local incident to a question regarding the #metoo movement.
Guynn was the only local candidate to not participate in the Oct. 8 forum at Sobrato.
In her closing statement, Rossi urged local voters in attendance to “do your own research and hold us accountable” before casting a vote in the Nov. 6 election.
In his final comments, Borgioli said voters should elect a public official who “will compromise and not divide.”
After the Rossi-Borgioli debate kicked off the forum—sponsored by the American Association of University Women, the Rotary Club of Morgan Hill and the student-led Interact Club—the MHUSD candidates were divided into two sessions.
Trustee Area 1 hopefuls Peter Mandel, Wendy Sullivan and Emma Nunez; Trustee Area 5 candidates Angelica Diaz and Vanessa Sutter; and lone Trustee Area 3 candidate Heather Orosco participated in the second session.
Trustee Area 2 candidates Tara Bevington, James Dill, John Horner and Enrique Navarro-Donnell as well as Trustee Area 4 hopefuls Carol Gittens and Jill Provencal fielded questions in the final session.