Rick Callender poised to be Valley Water’s next CEO
Rick Callender is pictured in this file photo.

It’s not official yet, but it’s pretty darn close — Rick Callender appears poised to be the next CEO of Valley Water.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors on Friday met in closed-session via video conference to discuss the appointment of the water district’s next CEO and general manager. While no one is allowed to speak about what happens in a private session, the San Jose Silicon Valley NAACP sent an email Saturday morning congratulating Callender on being named CEO.

A screenshot of the NAACP email congratulating Rick Callender.

But the job isn’t quite his yet. Though Callender received a majority of votes from the seven directors during Friday’s closed-session meeting, the board will discuss the appointment again during its next meeting on May 12, including the position’s salary and benefits.

Callender, who serves on this news organization’s Board of Directors, declined comment since he hasn’t yet signed a job offer.

If appointed, Callender would replace Norma Camacho who announced last November her plans to retire on July 10. Camacho became interim CEO, replacing Beau Goldie, in 2016. Callender would become the water district’s first permanent CEO.

Callender, who has been with the water district since 1996, was appointed Valley Water’s chief of external affairs — the second in command after Camacho — in 2017. He also serves as 2nd vice president of the California/Hawaii State Conference of the NAACP.

Valley Water insiders confirmed the vote in Callender’s favor on Friday, but expressed surprise that NAACP jumped the gun by congratulating Callender a day later — before an official announcement or job offer was made. Some said a Valley Water director leaked the vote from Friday’s closed-session meeting to the NAACP.

“It’s premature. I don’t know why (NAACP) put it out. They should have waited,” a source told San José Spotlight.

But Rev. Jeff Moore, president of the NAACP’s San Jose chapter, said it’s all but official. The only thing left to do, he said, is sign a contract and determine Callender’s pay.

“In closed-session, he was voted in. Now they just have to go through the background check and sign a contract — it’s all just a formality,” Moore said. “He’s the first African-American CEO and manager, and for them to do anything else at this point is counterproductive. He worked his way up through the organization — it’s a success story for the entire valley.”

Board Director Dick Santos declined comment on the CEO appointment, but sang Callender’s praises.

“I’m very proud of Rick. He has an outstanding 24 years of experience and his credentials make him the most qualified,” Santos said Saturday. “We are lucky and appreciative to have him. He always puts the residents of Santa Clara County first.”

Editor’s Note: Rick Callender serves on San José Spotlight’s Board of Directors.

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