Police Chief Mike Sellers has announced he will be retiring as a personal choice on September 1, 2019.
Yes, this is more than a year before his term is completed, so why?
Consider that Sellers started with the Santa Clara Police Department as a cadet in 1978 and has worked his way through the ranks for more than 40 years to become the top dog.
Maybe the current political climate played a role? Certainly, the constant clash in philosophy between Sellers and the Mayor, along with her Council, is well known within City circles.
If the Council had their way, we would most likely have an open creek trail through the middle of the stadium…even on game day. Chief Sellers would have none of that.
Of course, there was the exhausting 2016 reelection campaign when Mayor Gillmor hand-picked Police Sergeant Pat Nikolai to run against Sellers. You may recall the Mayor used the Santa Clara Police Officers Association PAC to collect money for her candidates’ campaigns and Nikolai’s. Her “team” collected about $80,000 from six developers to use as a war chest.
Note: These developers are doing quite well now.
This was the closest police race in City history. Seller’s came out victor with a meager margin of slightly over 100 votes. However, in the Mayor’s mind, the race was not over. She has made sure the Chief received demands from herself and her Council on a regular basis that made his life totally miserable.
Now, you can’t say the Mayor forgets her supporters. Shortly following the 2016 election, she gave a 7% pay increase to the police for 2017. This was followed by another 3% increase at renewal in December 2017 for 2018. Following last year’s election, the Council approved a 5% increase for 2019. In addition, they added an agreement to raise base salaries to 5.5% over an average of selected county agencies in 2020 and 6% above that average in 2021. These increases come on top of automatic annual increases in the underlying wage scale.
You can do the math.
Our police force is now the highest paid in the state for total compensation.
The one exception is the salary for Chief Sellers, who the Mayor and Council chose to snub. His salary is set by the Council since he is elected and, since his reelection his compensation has barely budged. This intentional omission could have played a role in his choice to leave early.
Sellers admittedly has endured over 60 hours in his work week. He has done this because it is what the job demands. With little support from the Council and certainly their hard-core refusal to increase his pay, why would he, or should he put up with another year of this workload without recognition?
You can be assured this Council never read Dale Carnegie’s classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
When you consider the job Sellers has done, the awards he has received, the acknowledgement given him by other county-wide departments along with high praise from Homeland Security, we have been fortunate to have him directing the SCPD.
It’s shameful this Mayor and Council have again placed their personal political egos before their elected public duty and responsibility.
With apologies for their improprieties, Chief Mike Sellers…we the community thank you and salute you. You have done your job with superb class and professional distinction.