Cindy Chavez Selected as County Manager in New Mexico

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez was selected to be the new county manager for New Mexico’s largest county, Bernalillo County, in a split vote Tuesday night.

The appointment, contingent on negotiation of an employment contract and successful completion of a background investigation, returns the veteran San Jose politician to the state of her birth and ends her 18-month search for government jobs away from the Bay Area.

Chavez was twice rejected by San Diego County for its chief administrative post. In Albuquerque, the county commissioners chose her on a 3-2 vote from among 10 finalists. The other two top candidates were a Bernalillo County department head and a former Oregon city manager.

Commissioners also approved the appointment of a deputy county manager for Finance Shirley Ragin as an interim Bernalillo County manager until contractual negotiations have been completed. Current County Manager Julie Morgas Baca will retire on June 30 after serving eight years in the top county job.

Chavez, who twice lost bids for mayor of San Jose, saw her finalist standing for San Diego County chief administrative officer derailed after a sexual harassment scandal and bickering among supervisors, a very public attempt by organized labor to influence the proceedings and threats by Chavez of a discrimination lawsuit.

The New Mexico Department of Justice two weeks ago accused the Bernalillo County Commission of violating state law in its search for the next county manager, and declared the search process by the state’s largest county “null and void,” until commissioners fixed the problem by taking a second vote affirming the finalists..

Two Bernalillo commissioners had asked the state to investigate their colleagues, alleging violation of New Mexico’s Open Meetings Act, accusing the board majority of “deliberately deceitful practices.”

Chavez, whose supervisor term was to expire in December, likely would receive a pay cut in the New Mexico job. Public records showed that her annual salary in 2022 in Santa Clara County was $308,000. The retiring county manager in Bernalillo County earned $215,000 annually.

Median housing prices in New Mexico are less than half of California’s median prices, and the sales tax rate outside the City of Albuquerque is less than 5%.

Santa Clara County’s population is about three times the population of Bernalillo County.


Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


  1. It’s so historic for a two-time two-time loser Latinx finally to break the brown glass ceiling in Bernalillo County. Let’s burn one and spark an armadillo barbecue and/or pizza! Someday it might even be possible for a little New Mexican girl to grow up and become Governor despite their gender.

  2. Our loss will soon be their loss too, do hope Bernadillo County has Deep pockets, they’ll them with her financial acumen.

  3. I am amazed by the amount of vitriol being spouted by the previous commenters. Cindy Chavez, whatever you think of her governance style or her positions, is a dedicated and career-long public servant. Our county and city have benefits from her commitment to housing, public health, women’s rights and equity. New Mexico’s gain will be our loss.

  4. Congratulations Cindy🎉 I am happy to learn that you have been selected to be county manager in NM, your place of birth. I enjoyed our many years of being co-horts on important humanitarian issues impacting the City of San Jose/Santa Clara County and will certainly miss you and your lovely family. 🙏🏽💕

  5. In spite of cynical naysayers, the truth is that the residents of the City of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara have gained much from the inspired leadership and community dedication of Cindy Chavez. She will be deeply missed.

  6. Let us see how the approach to crime will change there. That area has the 10th-worst crime statistics in the country. It is very unsafe.

  7. Barbara, Cindy Chavez’s “commitment to . . . public health” in Santa Clara County is a dystopian tale of smackdowns by the U.S. Supreme Court for its violations of constitutional rights to religious liberty by her underlings’ discriminatory restrictions on churches which were not applied more broadly against, say, liquor stores. These constitutional infringements were enforced by County officials using Stasi-style spying on churchgoers. This happened under Cindy’s watch:

    Then there were the mandates for VTA employees to take an experimental jab or lose their jobs — under Cindy’s tenure on the VTA board of directors.

    Cindy took an oath to uphold the Constitution, which she egregiously violated. She richly deserves the title Covid Tyrant.

  8. Barbara

    lifelong public servant… baaaaaahahahahaha

    What universe have you been dwelling in?

    Cindy! is a lifelong grift artist, along with the rest of the “progressives” who talk equity while destroying the middle class, infantilizing the poor, and snuffing out the youth’s future all the while positioning themselves for multi six-figure “C” level NGO jobs and other managerial elite gigs, like county or city management, department head, the list goes on and on.

    You are either feeding at her trough or clueless to the reality of California one-party politics.

  9. Mr. Kulak, you forgot none other than MTC, which is naturally expanding even more into housing policy and development with its latest bond measure, and as with transportation, with its hands firmly on the attached strings. Tax or employment – industrial policy next, that will be the coming question.

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