San Jose approves interim city manager
San Jose City Hall is pictured in this file photo.

Jennifer Maguire could soon become the third woman to lead America’s 10th largest city.

The San Jose City Council on Tuesday approved Maguire’s salary after she was unanimously appointed acting city manager. She replaces Dave Sykes who is retiring this month after more than three decades at City Hall.

“I am honored to support the Mayor and City Council, lead our amazing workforce, and serve our diverse community in this new role,” said Jennifer Maguire in a statement. “I am deeply committed to our wonderful city and look forward to a positive future as we come back stronger together from one of the most painful and challenging events of our lifetime. Our challenges will become our accomplishments.”

Sykes, who announced his resignation in May, leaves the city on July 25.

If appointed to the permanent city manager role, Maguire would be the fourth city manager under Mayor Sam Liccardo’s administration and the third woman to lead the city, following Debra Figone and Regina Williams. Liccardo applauded the move to give Maguire the reins temporarily.

“Jennifer’s leadership and dedication in serving our City and its residents for the past 30 years will be critical in the years ahead,” Liccardo said in a statement. “Her wealth of experience with policy and city service decisions will prove crucial as we transition from a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic into recovery.”

Interim City Manager Jennifer Maguire. Photo courtesy of San Jose.

The City Council on Tuesday approved a base salary of $347,600 for Maguire. With benefits, her total compensation package is approximately $453,000 according to city manager spokesperson Carolina Camarena. Sykes’ total compensation, including benefits, is $486,139.

Maguire has served as assistant city manager since 2017. From 2013 to 2015, she served as deputy city manager with the dual role of budget director. In 2015, she was appointed to senior deputy city manager and budget director.

Maguire is a 23-year resident of San Jose. She holds a bachelor’s of science in psychology and a master’s in business administration, both from Santa Clara University.

While Maguire steps into the interim role, the city is conducting a national search for a permanent replacement. Earlier this week, Liccardo hosted a town hall at Mexican Heritage Plaza to explain the process of hiring a city manager and to gather input about what residents want to see in the city’s next top administrator.

Residents asked questions about diversity, external candidates, finding someone who has a background in statistics and the city’s philosophy on selecting a candidate.

Carmen, who didn’t give her last name, says the city should consider underserved communities when choosing its top official.

“It’s important we have someone who is of that community representing so that they can have that in their mindset as they are affecting how the city is run,” she said.

Candidates from around the nation will be considered as well as city employees, Liccardo said. The mayor promised the search wouldn’t take “months” since he and some councilmembers will term out next year.

“I think we recognize the importance now more than ever of reaching out broadly and casting a wide net to really ensure we really have encouraged all those in our community and beyond,” Liccardo said at the town hall. “This is a city that certainly needs leadership that reflects its community.”

Another resident, Daniel Finn, praised Maguire and hoped she would become the permanent city manager.

“If Jennifer wants to stay in the position, you probably couldn’t find a better choice,” Finn said. “She knows the city and has led our finance department through some of our most difficult times.”

The city manager is the head administrator for San Jose and is in charge of the city’s approximately 6,600 employees. The mayor is responsible for nominating a city manager, and the City Council votes to accept or reject the mayor’s choice.

San Jose allows its city manager to hire, fire and direct staff—but that could change in the near future under a proposal being considered to make San Jose a “strong mayor” city where the mayor would have those powers.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Maguire would be the third female city manager, if appointed.

Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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