Watsonville council will decide Tuesday whether to hire new city manager from Gonzales

Watsonville plaza on Dec. 15, 2020.
Watsonville City Plaza.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Watsonville City Council will consider Rene Mendez for its vacant city manager role, following a three-month search that began after new Santa Cruz City Manager Matt Huffaker vacated the role.

The city of Watsonville could soon have a new city manager, just four months after the position was vacated by current Santa Cruz City Manager Matt Huffaker.

On Tuesday, the Watsonville City Council will decide whether to appoint Rene Mendez to the position. He would replace interim City Manager Tamara Vides, who’s been in the position since Nov. 30; Huffaker had previously held the position since 2018.

Rene Mendez
Rene Mendez, current city manager for Gonzales, is up for Watsonville’s open role. The city council will vote on his appointment during its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.
(Via City of Watsonville)

“It was extremely important for the city council to get our community involved in the hiring process, and hear what they wanted from our next city manager,” said Watsonville spokesperson Michelle Pulido.

In advance of Mendez’s nomination, city staff released a community survey to Watsonville residents and conducted several public meetings to hear from residents about their needs. The city also worked with recruitment firm Peckham & McKenny to find qualified candidates for the role beginning in January.

Mendez has worked in state, county and city government for the past three decades, most recently serving 17 years as the city manager for the community of Gonzales in Monterey County.

The Watsonville City Council will vote on Mendez’s appointment and contract approval during the regularly scheduled Council meeting on Tuesday.

Following the departure of former Santa Cruz City Manager Martín Bernal earlier this year, the city council began its...


Be the first to know all the big, breaking news in Santa Cruz. Sign up to get Lookout alerts sent straight to your phone here or below.