Longtime San Jose official leaves for smaller city
Matt Cano, former San Jose public works director, is now deputy city manager for Milpitas. Photo courtesy of Milpitas.

    San Jose’s public works director has left to take on a leadership position in a neighboring city.

    Matt Cano, who worked for San Jose in a variety of roles over the span of nearly 24 years, took over as deputy city manager in Milpitas on Jan. 30. He has an annual base salary of $275,341, plus approximately $66,400 in benefits. In his last year as San Jose public works director, he earned $280,146 in base salary, plus $14,000 in non-pensionable pay and about $88,500 in total benefits and allowances.

    “It’s great news that we got Matt,” Milpitas City Manager Steve McHarris told San José Spotlight. “To get somebody this experienced is outstanding and rare.”

    McHarris said Cano’s broad portfolio of work in the public sector is what made him the right candidate for the job. Cano, 49, worked as San Jose’s public works director for nearly the past five years. He also worked since 2006 in the city’s parks, recreation and neighborhood services department, serving a little more than three years as assistant director until he took the helm as public works director. He started his career with San Jose’s department of transportation as a project manager in 1999.

    “It was really time for a change for me, personally. I love San Jose, it’s my hometown, it’s a great organization to work for,” Cano told San José Spotlight. “This is an opportunity for me to expand my experiences, learn and grow in a new organization.”

    McHarris said in Milpitas, Cano oversees public works, engineering, recreation and community services, and will be in charge of about 112 full-time employees. In San Jose, he oversaw 647 full-time employees as head of public works.

    Getting up to speed should be far less daunting than in San Jose because Milpitas is less than one-tenth the population of its neighboring city to the south, and much smaller geographically, McHarris said. The city has a population of roughly 80,000.

    “It’ll be like working in one (San Jose) district,” McHarris said. “He’s going to have very deep relationships very quickly with the leadership team here, and that is a major benefit to somebody at the executive level.”

    While Milpitas has seen more than its share of turmoil at the top of its administration, with two city managers either resigning or being ousted from their role in the two years prior to McHarris’  appointment, Cano doesn’t seem concerned about political instability affecting his work.

    He said he wants to work for Milpitas because it’s another strong city with hardworking, smart people.

    “I’ve had great experiences so far and I’m really looking forward to tackling the challenges ahead,” Cano said.

    Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.

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