VALLEJO – As the city of Vallejo struggles to fill numerous vacancies at city hall, it has begun an extensive recruitment effort to fill multiple senior-level positions including for economic development manager and several new positions recently created by the city council.
City hall confirmed that it had about 150 vacancies earlier this year. Low pay, stressful working conditions and issues with management were cited as reasons that nearly 60 employees left the city of Vallejo during the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2021, according to exit interview data released by the city. Another 20 left during the first quarter of 2021, however, official reasons were not provided.
Paul Kelley, who currently oversees the city’s economic development division as special advisor to the city manager, confirmed he will apply for the manager position when his special advisor position ends on June 30. According to the city, the economic development manager will earn up to $147,000 in annual salary with a 2% cost of living increase planned for in July.
“I believe that managing this division from the permanent position allocation is the best for the City moving forward, and have been honored to do so for the past two years,” Kelley told the Vallejo Sun in an email this week.
Kelley praised the economic development division for its work during the past two years, pointing to approval of the North Mare Island Disposition Agreement by the city council last month.
“I hope to have the opportunity to be part of the exciting changes in the years to come as we implement City Council’s #1 goal of Economic Development and launch another small business grant and restaurant resiliency program, draft a New Economic Development Strategic plan (last done in 2012), implement the North Mare Island DDA, plan for the Waterfront next steps and much more,” Kelley said in the same email.
Kelley, a former Sonoma County Supervisor, was hired by then-City Manager Greg Nyhoff to lead the division after Nyhoff fired two high ranking economic development officials in April 2020. Kelley’s hiring was met with some skepticism following news that as a supervisor, Kelley voiced opposition to a resolution commending the LGBT community before walking out of the meeting.
The special advisor position was created for Slater Matzke, who began as a FUSE Executive Fellow under then-City Manager Daniel Keen in 2016. The fellowship program pairs an expert with a city or county to lead a project within that government. Matzke was tasked with improving the city’s image and also bringing investment opportunities to Vallejo.
Matzke, along with Will Morat, assistant to the city manager for economic development, and Joanna Altman, assistant to the city manager for communications & special projects were all fired on April 23, 2020. The city never gave any official reason for the terminations, and the three have gone on to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city.
Over the 2021 Memorial Day break, Nyhoff disappeared with an unknown medical condition days before the city council was expected to approve a new fiscal year budget. He never returned to work and the council approved a $577,536 resignation and separation agreement with him in July, ending his three-and-a-half year tenure.
New positions created
The Vallejo City Council signed off on several new positions during its mid-year budget sessions earlier this year. The council also froze a police captain position, a police lieutenant position and a corporal position to fund the hiring of several non-sworn positions.
In response to numerous housing issues, the city converted a vacant assistant to the city manager position into a houselessness manager, tasked with coordinating the city’s response to helping Vallejo’s unsheltered population.
Vallejo continues to grapple with housing issues, including the lack of a navigation center meant to assist the city’s homeless. City officials revealed during a November 2021 Housing and Community Development Commission meeting that the city doesn’t have a firm schedule on when the proposed 125-bed navigation center will open to serve the city’s unsheltered residents.
In addition, the Vallejo Sun reported last month that at least five people died in the city’s Project RoomKey program, which was established to house vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city has declined to publicly disclose how many program participants died.
The houselessness manager will earn an annual salary up to $153,000.
The council also created a youth coordinator position to build relationships with the community around youth issues. The coordinator will be an administrative analyst in the city manager’s office.
“A successful Analyst will work with Vallejo residents and community partners to assess the needs of Vallejo youth and help to develop a path of community-based services and supports that lead to the empowerment and success of young people in Vallejo,” according to the job announcement.
Earlier this year, Interim City Manager Mike Malone said he envisioned the youth coordinator having “many tentacles in the community” by working with nonprofits, and other organizations to bring youth-related programs and funding to the city. Malone said the position would also help build a better relationship between the city and Vallejo school district.
The council also approved the creation of an employee and labor relations officer who will be tasked with representing the city in labor agreement negotiations and other meet and confer matters, according to the job announcement.
The position will also “establish and maintain effective working relationships with labor organizations; plan, organize and direct the City's employee-employer and labor relations programs, or other program areas as assigned; manage and supervise the work of assigned staff,” the same announcement states. The position has an annual base salary of up to $162,000 and will report to the human resources director.
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THE VALLEJO SUN NEWSLETTER
Investigative reporting, regular updates, events and more
- Vallejo City Hall
- Vallejo City Council
- Paul Kelley
- North Mare Island
- Greg Nyhoff
- Slater Matzke
- Daniel Keen
- Will Morat
- Joanna Altman
- Mike Malone
John Glidden worked as a journalist covering the city of Vallejo for more than 10 years. He left journalism in 2023 and currently works in the office of Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown.
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