Sunflowers overlook a body of water on a farm just outside Morgan Hill. (Tarmo Hannula / Morgan Hill Times)

In Morgan Hill, there are no roads looking like a pockmarked moonscape and no tumbleweed rolling across the open spaces. The city’s drama level is lower than the cost of living (although perhaps not by much). The downtown area is vibrant, filled with restaurants, shops, and cafes. It has amazing city owned facilities for its residents.

My conclusions about Morgan Hill come from visiting it numerous times and participating in the development of the Los Gatos Road Map (which modeled the building of a new/improved community center facility after Morgan Hill’s model), visiting their community center, and recently hearing Morgan Hill Mayor Mark Turner’s state of the city address.

Every town should have a cheerleader like Mayor Turner. He could sell a broken hotdog stand. Mayor Turner is a longtime colleague and friend of Lissa Kreisler, my significant other, because of her many years on the radio at KBAY and their common involvement in volunteer activities. That connection and my prior interactions with Mayor Turner, led me to join Lissa at his state of the city address.

Mark Turner
Morgan Hill Mayor Mark Turner. (File Photo)

Mayor Turner’s address was a whirlwind of positivity that would make a motivational poster jealous. After hearing him speak, I concluded he must have been a sports team cheerleader in high school or college. I told him as much, after his speech, adding that I think he’s a dynamo. Mayor Turner could almost put Tony Robbins to shame as a motivational speaker.

A former CEO of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and a former pastor, he left little doubt that he knows how to promote business in Morgan Hill and rally its residents to get civically involved. His joyful speech, sprinkled with gratitude and recognition, convincingly portrayed Morgan Hill as an amazing and charming place to live. He nearly had me ready to pack my bags and move to Morgan Hill.

So, what did he say and what lessons did my attendance at this event provide me with as I consider what it takes to improve Los Gatos?

Positivity: Of course, there’s energy and enthusiasm. That’s what sustains a community and indeed helps it thrive. The Mayor’s frequent reference to the wonderful attributes of the city and the possibilities for making the city an even better place to live, was and is infectious.

Success: Combining humor with a smooth flowing have done/can do attitude, Mayor Turner spoke about accomplishments and his proposed initiatives. He mentioned the law enforcement staff added to the city, the education programs instituted, and the success stories of local businesses expanding their operations. He talked about collaborations with individuals, organizations, and educational institutions such as San Jose State. He provided data to measure the city’s economic successes, educational successes, and infrastructure successes.

Love of the place you live: Mayor Turner was given a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech. I attributed this positive atmosphere to a high level of community engagement. The residents heard from Mayor Turner how hard he is working to improve their town. They could sense his love of the city. As a result, people believe Morgan Hill is a place they can be proud to live.

A focused vision for the future: Mayor Turner also presented his vision for the city’s future in concrete terms. One item that stood out for me, as a former competitive swimmer, is his goal to make the city a swimming mecca. Applying lessons learned from attending this state of the city event to Los Gatos, I noted in the mayor’s speech his mention of two Los Gatos businesses—Enoteca La Storia and Oak and Rye—that are expanding into Morgan Hill.

It is a tribute to Los Gatos that these businesses found early success in our town. This suggests we are on the right track. Equally as gratifying is the energy, enthusiasm, intelligence, wealth of historical perspective, and experience many of our residents provide. I also see from my involvement in a variety of volunteer activities the love many of us have for our town.

My takeaways are that we are on the right track in Los Gatos, but we could perhaps use a few more cheerleaders. I know there are people in Los Gatos who are also capable of selling a broken hotdog stand.

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