Former Milpitas Planning Commissioner Demetress Morris has been out on the campaign trail running for Milpitas City Council. The Milpitas Beat caught up with her this past week…
“We must represent all the residents of Milpitas,” Morris said in an interview, “and not just the special interest groups. Milpitas residents ought to have their voices heard and be represented by leaders who are experienced in their community, as well as aware of the pressing matters, such as housing, safety, and clean streets.”
Moreover, Morris is out to build a more cohesive community, hinged on the concept of collective achievement: setting and reaching goals through hard work carried out by collaborative stakeholders.
Said Morris, “Milpitas requires governance that can effectively manage growth through change and the growth that we as a community are able to manage.” She added, “Our community needs to keep and improve the safety of our streets, parks, and neighborhoods. I will work with law enforcement to lessen potential crime. As a community leader in Milpitas, I would like to strengthen its stability and give our citizens the possibility to contribute to Milpitas’s achievement.”
Asked what strengths she can bring to the role of Councilmember, Morris cited “Operational Unity” – the concept of drawing strength from operating as a cohesive unit, rather than separate parts. In this view, diversity of thought and planning is held in the utmost esteem. As an individual, she pointed to her “good judgment, transparency, accountability, and speaking honestly.”
“The task as a Milpitas Council Member is to provide timely communication and professionalism,” Morris offered.
Demetress Morris has sat on the Community Advisory Board for the Milpitas Unified School District, as well as the School Site Council for Milpitas High School. She earned an undergraduate degree in Business along with a Master’s in Leadership. She has also been the founder of a grassroots organization that worked to close the achievement gap, among other accomplishments. While working on a variety of Milpitas committees and commissions, Morris learned that “Milpitas Councilmembers have practically no position with regards to individual city employees. The fact is that Councilmembers must act as a body, not as individuals or beholden to each other.”
Her time on the Planning Commission lasted for over seven years; she served as their Vice-Chair for one. During that time, she learned that with limited exceptions, Councilmembers are required by law to conduct City business only during properly convened meetings, in full view of the public: “This is a requirement that I can’t assure is being carried out to the letter of the law,” Morris shared, stating that when the same three votes consistently solidify all Council action items, it’s a problem.
Morris plans to prioritize affordable housing, homelessness, and community safety, noting that she seeks to ensure the proper funding of our Police and Fire Departments. Addressing housing, she added, “[It] is the most pressing issue across California. Milpitas must join with state, federal, and county to address this pressing concern.”
Morris hopes that voters will think of her as an advocate for unity, collaboration, and transparency, along with the value of respect and experience. “When they think of me,” she said, “I want them to remember the significance of volunteering. And participating in the elections to affect change.”
Election Day is on November 8. Morris is running against former Councilmember Garry Barbadillo, Planning Commissioner Dipak Awasthi, School Board Member Hon Lien, School Board Member Michael Tsai, political newcomer Isaac Stringer, and Milpitas Chamber of Commerce Board Member Juliette Gomez.