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Watsonville Assistant City Manager to be Appointed Interim Chief Exec

Watsonville City Council recommends Tamara Vides to serve as interim city manager, upon Matt Huffaker’s departure

Watsonville Assistant City Manager Tamara Vides. — courtesy of the city of Watsonville

The Watsonville City Council has recommended Tamara Vides to serve as the interim city manager, upon Matt Huffaker’s departure and until a permanent replacement can be found.

The appointment will come before the City Council in a special meeting set for Nov. 30. 

Vides has worked for the city for more than 20 years, serving in different positions in the City Manager’s Office for the past 12 years. She was named deputy city manager in 2018 and then reassigned to assistant city manager in October 2020.

“I have spent the last 23 years of my life serving the Watsonville community with great pride, and I will continue my commitment to this community,” Vides said in a press release. “I appreciate the council’s consideration and hope to serve during this transition.”

The upcoming meeting will likely close extensive deliberation among the Watsonville City Council about who should take the reins from Huffaker in the interim. The elected leaders met four times in closed sessions this month to discuss the matter, including a nearly five-hour session on Monday night.

The topic has been a contentious one. Nearly all city of Watsonville department directors have spoken in favor of Vides’ appointment over the past three weeks, but several lower-level employees—both on the record and in private messages to the City Council and media—have come forth with concerns over her stepping into the role.

“The city council took this interim city manager search with extreme seriousness. Over many hours, we considered all the valuable input, correspondence and candidates that were presented in front of us,” Watsonville Mayor Jimmy Dutra said in a press release. “After evaluating everything, we feel confident in our selection process and believe Assistant City Manager Vides is the right person to move our city forward as we search for a permanent city manager. We appreciate our department directors and our dedicated city staff. The city council wholeheartedly believes Tamara will make every effort to not only make our city run smoothly, but also lead us into healing as an organization.” ​​​​​​​ 

At the same meeting, the City Council will consider approving a contract with the recruitment firm Peckham & McKenney to seek candidates to replace Huffaker, who will take over as the city manager in Santa Cruz on Jan. 3, 2022. 

Huffaker’s last day with Watsonville is Dec. 14, the same day as the City Council’s final regularly scheduled meeting of the year. 

Finding his permanent replacement will take anywhere from three to six months, the city said.


For the complete City Council agenda for the Nov. 30 meeting, click here.

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