Santa Clara Hires New City Manager

Sunnyvale City Manager Deanna Santana has been chosen as the top administrator in Santa Clara. The city council hired Santana late last month. She’ll take the reins in October.

The vote was 6 to 1, with Vice Mayor Dominic Caserta dissenting. He called the no vote one of the “proudest votes” he has taken as an elected official.

Caserta took issue with Santana’s compensation package, which he said represents a 50 percent increase over the last city manager, Julio Fuentes. It “just does not reflect my values,” he explained.

Santana will earn an annual salary of $372,886, plus a monthly car allowance of $550 and a $3,750 housing allowance. That least sweetener bothered Caserta the most.

“We’re giving her a housing allowance when she’s already a home owner,” said Caserta. “What does that say to a lineman making $65,000 a year commuting from Tracy? Why don’t we put that money in employees’ pockets to alleviate their housing concerns.”

Santana has held the top executive post in Sunnyvale since 2014. She previously worked for the cities of San Jose for 12 years and Oakland for 2 ½ years.

Santana's time in Oaktown was fraught with tumult. She clashed with a number of city officials, one of whom accused Santana of pressuring her to falsify reports to get a city council member out of office. But her stint in Oakland also means she has experience working with professional sports teams. That’s a major asset in Santa Clara, which is embroiled in a potentially disastrous tussle with the 49ers right now.

Asked how she would work to repair that relationship, Santana offered few details, but said she has always been good at “building bridges instead of burning them down.”


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