San Jose City Clerk Dennis Hawkins announced Tuesday he will resign after 18 years with the city and nearly two years as clerk to take a job with Santa Clara County.

Hawkins, whose last day as city clerk will be Dec. 15, will start his new job Dec. 17 as administrative services manager for the County of Santa Clara Office of the County Counsel.

"It was just something that piqued my interest," Hawkins, 57, said after Tuesday's Council meeting.

Hawkins has served as city clerk since January 1, 2011, replacing Lee Price under whom he had worked as assistant city clerk. Hawkins began his career with the city's parks and recreation department, where his wife was a superintendent before retiring in 2010 after 34 years. Before joining the city, Hawkins, who earned a degree in finance at San Jose State, had worked in the banking and insurance industries.

Hawkins, son of a veteran newspaperman and the father of two, also has served since 1994 as a board trustee in the Oak Grove School District in south San Jose, where he is finishing his fourth year as board president.

As city clerk, Hawkins was among a handful of city executives directly appointed by the City Council, and came into the job during a rough patch in which city leaders have cut pay and benefits and laid off staff to help close perennial deficits.

But Hawkins said that as a school board member, he could relate to the difficult decisions the Council had to make given San Jose's financial straits.

"I respect the Council," Hawkins said. "I understand the pressures and issues they have to deal with."


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Hawkins, whose city salary was $140,777, said his county pay would be comparable.

But he acknowledged the clerk job was difficult. Hawkins drew criticism in June when he told backers of a proposed measure that would guarantee a slice of the city budget for libraries that they would need to collect more signatures than he had initially told them because the rules are different for charter amendments.

He also noted that in addition to the Council's weekly meetings, he also has to attend numerous committee and commission meetings, including several at night.

"Physically, it's a real challenging job," Hawkins said.

Mayor Chuck Reed was out of town on city business Tuesday, but his office said the mayor and Council will appoint an acting city clerk while a search is conducted for Hawkins' replacement.

Contact John Woolfolk at 408-975-9346. Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/johnwoolfolk1.