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Tony Batalla to Take CIO Role in Santa Cruz County Government

Batalla, who led information technology operations for the city of San Leandro, Calif., since February 2014, has accepted the CIO position in Santa Cruz County’s Information Services Department.

An aerial view of the city of Santa Cruz in Northern California.
Tony Batalla, the technology leader for the city of San Leandro, has taken a new role as chief information officer for Santa Cruz County.

Batalla is a longtime technology professional, having served as San Leandro’s chief technology officer and head of innovation and IT since February 2014.

Santa Cruz County’s Information Services Department (ISD) has about 66 full-time positions and an annual budget of about $17 million.

Tony Batalla
Tony Batalla
“First and foremost,” Batalla told Techwire, “I plan to learn about the county organization and the Information Services Department. So, getting to know the team and developing an assessment – a sort of ‘state of IT’ – is my top priority.”

Batalla said Santa Cruz County has published a comprehensive strategic plan with goals for all departments, including ISD, “so I plan to make sure I’m executing on those goals and that what I develop for the team is aligned with the strategic goals of the county.”

Batalla was asked to reflect on his eight years as San Leandro’s CTO and to cite one or two technology achievements that he considers successes.

“I’m most proud of my team’s track record of top-notch customer service,” he told Techwire. “Customer service is the foundation of IT – something you have to get right. During my eight years, IT closed nearly 27,000 tickets and maintained a 96 percent customer satisfaction ranking. That’s pretty amazing!”

Batalla also pointed to a project the city undertook with Common Networks.

“To recap, Common was a venture-funded startup that licensed city rooftop space and fiber to build a residential fixed wireless network,” Batalla said. “The legacy of that project is cheaper, faster and more widely available broadband service in the city, including private-sector investments that were driven in no small part by the increased competition."

“In terms of technology projects, I am proud of the project with Common Networks,” he added. “I’m also proud of the digital inclusion work we did with public Wi-Fi and nonprofit partnerships that has helped hundreds of residents and families.”

As he moves from the city role to a larger one, Batalla was asked if he has any advice for his successor in San Leandro.

“IT has a superpower to ‘see horizontally’ across the organization and connect otherwise unseen dots, e.g., through standardization, integration, efficiencies, common pain points, etc.,” he said. “This is one powerful way that IT can unlock sustained long-term value for the organization. So my advice is to continue advocating for IT being used as a strategic tool in addition to its supporting role.”

Batalla, who lives in the Bay Area, will not relocate for his new position.

“In fact, this opportunity for me is the direct result of the permanent shift in work schedules and adoption of telework driven by the pandemic,” he said. “Going forward, telework can be an important part of public-sector recruitment strategy for IT talent.”

Before entering the public sector in February 2014, Batalla worked in the private sector in various tech roles including IT service manager, systems engineer and systems administrator. He is an honors graduate of the University of San Francisco, where he earned his bachelor of science in information systems, and he has a master’s in business administration in technology and leadership from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. His outside interests include serving as a board member and volunteer with Family Resource Navigators.

Batalla has been a regular participant and speaker at tech forums and industry conferences and has written commentaries for Techwire about how vendors can work with smart cities and about trends in govtech.
Dennis Noone is the managing editor of Techwire.