Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker
Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker.
(Courtesy City of Santa Cruz)
Government

Santa Cruz City Council set to hire Watsonville’s city manager, Matt Huffaker

Following the departure of former Santa Cruz City Manager Martín Bernal earlier this year, the city council began its search for a replacement. On Thursday, the council announced it will vote on Nov. 9 to appoint Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker.

Following a closed-door session earlier in the week, the Santa Cruz City Council announced Thursday it will formally appoint Watsonville City Manager Matt Huffaker for its own top non-elected position at its Nov. 9 meeting.

In many smaller cities, the city council acts as the policy-making body while the city manager serves as its chief executive, responsible for oversight of all of its departments including public safety, finance, and public works.

Huffaker has 15 years of experience serving in local government leadership positions. He started working at the City of Watsonville as assistant city manager in 2016 before becoming city manager in 2018.

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“I’m very humbled and excited to have the opportunity to serve as Santa Cruz’s next city manager,” Huffaker said in a release. “Santa Cruz has tremendous opportunities before it, and I look forward to working with the Council, community and City staff to advance the many important initiatives underway.”

The city council unanimously recommended him for the position during a closed session on Tuesday.

During a regular meeting on Nov. 9, the public will have an opportunity to comment and the council will vote on Huffaker’s appointment. If the council approves, which is expected, he would begin the role on Jan. 3.

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Water Director and Interim City Manager Rosemary Menard will serve as interim city manager through Jan. 2. She was chosen by the council to serve as interim when Bernal finished serving in August.

Huffaker will be responsible for the hiring of a permanent Santa Cruz police chief after Andy Mills announced he was stepping down earlier this month.