Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews Announces Resignation

UPDATE: Santa Clara City Manager Julio Fuentes was up for a closed-session performance evaluation Tuesday, the day of the mayor's abrupt resignation. 

Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Lee Matthews announced his resignation on a high note Monday, a day after his city played host to Super Bowl 50.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to have served as Santa Clara’s mayor,” said 53-year-old Matthews, who has nearly three years left in his term. “Now it’s time for me to focus on my family and look forward to the next chapter of my life.”

His health, he said, had nothing to do with the decision. No mention was made of the civil grand jury investigation into the city’s Stadium Authority, which oversees operations at the game-day venue, Levi’s Stadium. Nor of the fact that just days after the Super Bowl, Santa Clara stands to lose its two top officials.

Matthews' resignation, effective Tuesday, came on the same day City Manager Julio Fuentes was up for a closed-session performance evaluation. Fuentes, who took the $290,000-a-year job only three years ago, reportedly cited a hostile work environment.

 

SC Personnel ReviewMatthews also failed to address the timing of his announcement, which took even his close colleagues off guard. There’s some suspicion that something happened on game day that led to his surprise announcement.

A New York Times profile published just before Sunday’s game noted that Matthews—who said he knows nothing about football—might be the only mayor in the nation to host the Super Bowl with no interest in attending the event. He must have changed his mind.

In a post-game wrap-up that ran in Monday’s print edition of the Mercury News, columnist Mark Purdy wrote that the mayor “watched the entire afternoon and evening unfold from the SAP Suite Tower” Sunday.

Merc Clip

The Merc's original copy indicated that Mayor Matthews watched Super Bowl 50 from a luxury suite.

Hours later, the story was updated online to indicate that Matthews visited the stadium before the game to show face and thank staff, but then “headed home at kickoff time to watch on television.”

Maybe it’s nothing. Or maybe the mayor thought twice about being on the record as a Super Bowl attendee with a luxury suite pass valued at anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000. Accepting a gift of such extraordinary value would flout state and local election laws, which limit perks to $460 in a calendar year.

Attempts to reach Matthews through city spokeswoman Jennifer Yamaguma were unsuccessful as of press time.

Vice Mayor Teresa O’Neill will serve as interim mayor until the council appoints a successor or sets up a special election to let voters decide. Matthews said he felt proud of his city of 120,000 for hosting the nation’s biggest sporting event, but that it’s time for him to slow down.

“I thought Santa Clara and Levi’s Stadium looked beautiful on the world stage and performed exceptionally well,” Matthews told a Mercury News columnist on Sunday.

Matthews retired last year after a 30-year career in San Jose’s code enforcement division. In Santa Clara, his hometown, he spent four years on the Planning Commission. Over the past 26 years, he was elected three times to the City Council and twice as mayor.

In Santa Clara, serving on the council is a part-time job, and the mayor has said that he has no intention using his post as a stepping-stone to higher office.

Below is the full press release from the city of Santa Clara:

The day after the Bay Area successfully hosted the 50th Super Bowl, Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Lee Matthews stunned reporters in attendance at a post-Super Bowl press conference by announcing he would be retiring as the Mayor effective this evening. "It has been the greatest honor of my life to have served as Santa Clara's Mayor. Now it's time for me to focus on my family and look forward to the next chapter of my life."

Matthews recently retired from the City of San Jose after a 30 year career and has served Santa Clara for 20 years; serving four years as a Planning Commissioner and, over 26 years, was elected three times to the City Council and twice as Mayor.

City Manager, Julio Fuentes shared his congratulations to the Mayor and stated, “Jamie has been a second-to-none Mayor, one of the best Mayors I have ever worked with during my career. I wish him and his family the very best during his well-deserved retirement.”

Vice Mayor Teresa O’Neill will preside over the Council effective Tuesday, February 9, 2016. The Council has 30 days to appoint an interim Mayor or the office of Mayor will be included on the ballot during the November 2016 election.

This story has been updated.

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

32 Comments

  1. I’m sad to see him go. He did more for Santa Clara than most anyone. Despite his critics and yes, some recent missteps, on balance is was a better representative of Santa Clarans than those who preceded him.

    • I retired from the City of Santa Clara in 2002 after a 30 year career in law enforcement. (25 with SC) I can tell you that I had the highest respect for Jamie Mathews and consulted with him at different times on planning issues that would affect our city.

    • I’m not sad to see him go, anyone who puts developers and corporations aka 49ers ahead of his own residents needs to ‘retire’ aka ‘quit’ and move on, we will be left with a huge mess and debt. Let’s hope we can start to bring some sanity to this city and stop the madness.

  2. The day after the game? Sounds like the actions of a man trying to stay head of the prosecutors.

    • Payout = $0. Santa Clara are unpaid Council, except around $25 per meeting.

      • Right forgot should remember as lived there 10yrs but he more than likely got pockets lined with 49er money (is that not taxpayer money) or he will be working for them soon.

      • Not true. For the $0 part, see santaclaraca.gov/home/showdocument?id=14847

        For the $25 part of your comment, quoting from the agenda for tonight’s meeting:

        “AB23 ANNOUNCEMENT: Members of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, Sports and Open Space Authority and Housing Authority are entitled to receive $30 for each attended meeting.”

        Hardly a fortune, given all the effort they also have to put into various local and regional committees as part of their Council positions, among many other demands on their time that few people notice.

  3. PILODEUDORIX KAFUENSIS AKA AFRICAN BUTTERFLY BOY: From a guy who has been a fixture in Santa Clara city politics for a quarter century and with two years remaining on his term of office, it sounds to me more like a serious health issue.

    • Then in that case we will know soon enough. From my own experience, people who do an immediate unannounced stealth retirement the day after the biggest event of their career without an obvious reason usually are hiding something.

      • PK: You are higher than I am on the cynicism scale, and that’s sayin’ somethin’

  4. If it is a health issue, I certainly wish him the very best in overcoming it.

  5. When too many honest people are now ending up homeless, or oddly not able to retire despite a life of hard work, I would really love to know what City of Santa Clara zip code zone Jamie resides in (quite clearly it is far, far, to the west of highway 101, unlike the East Side where that hideousness, wealthy folk only partay ($4k a ticket), just took place) – especially since he is increasingly seeming to have made a gold mine off of horrid stadium/Super Bowl back door dealings, while proudly declaring he did not get snagged up in that Super Bowl 50 Militaristic nightmare, as he never watches the games, likely miles away from his own domicile..

    I mean, really, Jamie, how many of those persons stuck living within blocks of that Billionaire’s Stadium Party – many who also did not want to be in the center of it, like you, but were given no choice – do you think were able to avoid being treated like an enemy on their own doorstep: kids soccer ball field shut down, snipers on all surrounding rooftops; small family owned business/restaurant road blocked For THE GAME, surveillance; and K9 troops; all of which you were able to utterly avoid, while not so subtly able to snort down your nose at?

    • Like all of our city council members, Matthews lives in the 95050 zip code, near the oldest/east congested part of Santa Clara. We do not have geographic districts, so there’s no one on council representing the north side of the city, no one representing the Lawrence Expy area, no one representing the El Camino area where so many big developments are going in. Our council members do not put in big developments in their own neighborhoods.

  6. I’m curious Diane, when you say the Jamie has made a gold mine off or the stadium, what evidence do you have? Please share some facts about his financial gain to back your strong accusation.

    BTW – 101 in Santa Clara runs west to east. So if he lived due west, that would put his home in Los Altos somewhere.

  7. I’m curious Diane, when you say the [sic] Jamie has made a gold mine off or the stadium

    Who taught you grammer, Ted, I stated this:

    he is increasingly seeming to have made a gold mine off of horrid stadium/Super Bowl back door dealings

    I did not declare he made a gold mine, I noted that it seems he may have, huge difference (to most people, do ask Your Lawyer, Ted, as if you don’t already know).

    • Ok fine, “he is increasingly seeming [sic] to have made a gold mine off of horrid stadium/Super Bowl back door dealings”

      Prove direct evidence of “how is seems he may have” profited from back door dealings. Post any shred of evidence of a backdoor dealing that MAY HAVE produced a gold mine. Again, this is a strong accusation of a public official and I seriously doubt you have any credible evidence to back you ignorant statement.

      Hope dinner went well!

  8. I have to cook dinner now, and prepare for the next fear inducing day, in Silicon Valley (can’t afford to move, or stay (even though my forced retirement income should be quite enough to afford a roof over my head), a feature, not a bug). I’ll respond to Santa Clara County (whoever that may be? .or, …wow the whole county responded to my post?), when able.

    • Stand by while Diane finds some “credible evidence”. (insert jeopardy music here).

      Just messing with you. Have a good dinner.

  9. I’m sure he’s disappointed to not get to host the coin toss ceremony at the super bowl, but resigning seems a bit extreme. Mathews hang in there, next time!

  10. Santa Clara County:

    Our council members do not put in big developments in their own neighborhoods.

    Yeah, surely a Bay Area feature. Particularly visible in all those frontage road areas along 101. I’ve stopped voting for politicians, after decades of solid voting, though still vote on the propositions. A lottery would be better than corrupt mess we have.

    (apologies as to the dislocated reply, but either my security settings, or my outdated browser is preventing my using the reply button.)

    Anon:

    No evidence search, no energy or time for it if I wanted to. Given such a sudden resignation – after reading (on this website, 02/03/16) Civil Grand Jury Investigates Stadium Authority for Levi’s Stadium, Site of Super Bowl, and its comments – was quite enough to trigger suspicion. I should note also that anyone in such a position of power to effect thousands of persons lives, who refers to those in far less influential positions as baby, triggers an immediate revulsion and suspicion of utterly self important con man; particularly in a Valley now world infamous for its corporate/government back door deals, inequality and stunning poverty amidst so many billionaires, power brokers and bought off influencers.

    Thanks for the well dinner wishes dear.

    Oh and, last but not least, Ted[X]:

    If we’re going to be picky, I’m betting that 101 in that area runs Northwest, Southeast (though I don’t carry a compass with me), especially when I’ve never been blinded by the west setting sun while driving on 101 through Santa Clara. After all, 101 and 99.9999% of state interstate highways ending in odd numbers are considered North/South throughways, but I’m pretty sure you were aware of my meaning as to East and West of 101 anyway.

    • Tell us what you had for dinner so that I and others might avoid the mind numbing conspiracy inducing foods that you fill your pie hole with to create your constant ramblings of nonsense.

      The more I read the SJI comment section, it seems to be filled exclusively with circus folks, such as yourself, who spread negativity and hand out BS on each and every subject brought up. Nobody is listening. Please seek help!

  11. oh lord, please don’t let the Ted[X] defender of Sly Con Valley BACK DOOR Politico/Deal Maker! Frat Boyos come down on me like a ton of bricks before I’m able to correct my misspelling from interstate highways, to the – what I had actually meant – intrastate highways.

  12. Well, there IS that Grand Jury thing happening. Sounds like he got advice that it would be good not to be seen at the Super Bowl. Then again, when did the NYT really report anything accurately?

  13. welp,

    yes I did, I spelled grammar wrong.

    I spelled grammar wrong because I’ve not spelled out the word grammar, ever, in my life (despite, in my younger years, knowing exactly how it was spelled); as I’m not ever one to attack a person for their grammar, unless they pull an ugly stunt like Ted[X] did above, as regards the – West versus EastCity of Santa Clara.

    humans are generally able to understand what another’s life experienced commentary signifies, despite whatever – spelling and grammar – highly petty, clearly obfuscating, offenses.