gmhTODAY 24 gmhTODAY Feb March 2019 - Page 17

O n December 12, 2018, Council- member Rich Constantine was sworn in as Morgan Hill’s newly-elected mayor. Having benefitted from a smooth-running city council over the past 12 years of former Mayor Steve Tate’s leadership, Morgan Hill residents are eager to see how Constantine will govern. During his college years at San Jose State University, Constantine pursued a B.S. degree in Aeronautics. He wanted to be a pilot, even considered a career in the Navy, but world events changed everything. “The year I graduated, the Berlin Wall came down,” he said. "A new era of glasnost emerged. Our military underwent massive budget cuts. Just like that, they stopped recruiting pilots.” Forced to make a course correction, Constantine did some research and decided to apply with the fire service. In 1994 he landed a job with the San Jose Fire Department and served with them for 24 years as a Firefighter Engineer and EMT. He also provided training for other fire engineers and served as a Shift Representative for the International Association of Firefighters Union Local 230. “What I learned as a firefighter about teamwork and treating everyone with respect I’ve carried with me into my work on the city council.” In 2010, Constantine was elected to the Morgan Hill City Council. The first few years were focused on supporting the City through the Great Recession. “Our city rebuilt itself from the ashes, really. Smaller cities like ours took a big hit. Even in good times this city runs on a shoestring. Successful rebuilding was due in part to the poli- cies Mayor Tate and the council, and I’m proud to have been part of that effort.” Constantine decided to run for mayor in 2018, and announced that if elected, he’d retire from the San Jose Fire Department. “I knew I couldn’t be a ‘part-time mayor,’ because it’s not a part-time job. One of the reasons I ran was to have the ability to ‘steer the ship’ so to speak. There are things I want to see done for the city by building on the great foundation we have.” PLAN FOR MORGAN HILL Last December, the new Mayor reviewed highlights of his platform with TODAY . Having just taken office, he said it was “too soon to be talking about legacy” but added that “the platform I ran on is what I’m hoping to do. People are going to hold me accountable for that, as they should.” gmh Affordable Housing During his campaign, Constantine pledged to establish, and chair, a community task force of housing advocates, environmentalists, business, landowners and neighborhood leaders to examine best practices that have worked in other communities. Also, to engage in community outreach and look at the county’s Affordable Housing Fund program as a possible source of funding. He stated that within six months, the task force would present a plan to City Council that allows Morgan Hill to continue slow and smart growth while creating additional incentives and opportunities to build affordable housing. “I want to help make the American Dream a reality for all who seek it,” he said. “If elected Mayor, affordable housing will be my top priority.” Ensure Sensible Growth Constantine outlined four steps he’ll take to ensure “smart, reasonable growth,” keeping in mind the City’s growth control measure established in 1977. Here are the highlights: • Cultivate relationships with existing local businesses through semi-annual joint city council and chamber of commerce sessions open to the public. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN february/march 2019 • Expand efforts to attract new business by creating an Economic Advisory Commission to work with the City’s Economic Development Department on strategies and policies that attract “the right kinds of employers”. • Upgrade business climate and infrastructure (quality high-speed internet, business-friendly permitting and fees, and “business incubator” programs). • Honor our agricultural heritage and help the ag community thrive as farmers and ranchers. “We’re residential heavy, and business light,” Constantine said. “We need to diversify our income stream to protect ourselves against the next recession. We can attract more manufacturing, industrial, and ware- housing companies and jobs to land that’s already zoned for it. I’d also like to see businesses that are tied to agriculture. We’re one of the last bas- tions of ag and as Mayor I plan to look into the needs of our farmers and ranchers. To attract professional services, we also need more office space and it has to be affordable.” “Developers know Morgan Hill is a good community. We want them to know Morgan Hill as a good place to build and grow a business. We’re now working on the Monterey Corridor Plan, extending north and south of the downtown core, and expect to have a plan in place in March. As a council we’re not going to rush it. We want to see it done right. The Residential Development Control System (RDCS) is there to help ensure that whatever is built is of good quality.” Improve Traffic (and Transportation) Constantine has vowed to not only help end gridlocked traffic in Morgan Hill, but also to advocate for Morgan Hill’s needs with the VTA and Caltrain. “Transportation needs to be more convenient for Morgan Hill commuters. Electrification of Caltrain must extend 17