‘It’s been amazing’: San Jose city manager to step down after 34 years

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — After more than 30 years working for the city of San Jose, one of the city’s top leaders is retiring. 

As the city is continuing to mourn the loss of nine VTA employees in last week’s mass shooting, City Manager Dave Sykes says he’s calling it a career. 

“It’s been an amazing opportunity to work for the city all these years,“ says Sykes.

“I am not saying that we’re perfect and we always do the best, but we certainly have accomplished a lot working for our community,” Sykes added.

“And certainly through the pandemic I feel really proud how this organization responded to the needs of our community and that’s rewarding that in some small way makes a difference in people’s lives.”

Sykes got his start with the city of San Jose in 1987 working as a part-time engineering trainee in the Public Works Department where he soon worked his way to become director of the department and city engineer. 

But in 2017 Sykes career changed his career course when he became the City Manager after former City Manager Norberto Duenas retired.   

“I never really had a goal in my career to be city manager, I didn’t, but once the mayor and the council asked me to take the role on I felt like I could make a difference,” says Sykes. 

“I’ll be honest with you, it sounds a little corny, but it came out of my love for the city and love for the organization and that’s why I did it.”

When Sykes took over in 2017 the city was recovering from heavy rainfall that ended up displacing thousands of residents and costing the city millions to recover. 

And now as the city begins to recover from the coronavirus pandemic Sykes says he feels it is the right time to step down. 

“I will admit I think for all of us the last year plus with the pandemic has been super demanding on everybody and it certainly has been demanding for us as an organization but I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish,” says Sykes. 

“I feel like we turned the corner and it’s a good time for me to kind of pass the baton and let the next generation of leaders take on more responsibility and take the work on.”

Sykes immigrated to San Jose at a young age where he attended Gunderson High School and graduated from San Jose State University. 

After working 34 years with the city of San Jose, Sykes will step down from his position in July. 

Sykes tells KRON4 News he is going to take some time to assess what he will do next but plans to stay local. 

“I don’t have anything lined up right now and that’s the way I want it, I want to take a bit of a break and get a little perspective and then figure out what’s best for me and the family,” says Sykes. 

“So you probably haven’t seen the last of me but certainly very thankful and appreciative of the opportunity I’ve had to serve our resident.”

The city is set to name an interim city manager sometime before July. 

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