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SAN JOSE — A recommendation to make Mary Greenwood interim public defender will likely go before the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors within the next week, an official close to the hiring process said Friday. Greenwood, who currently heads the alternate defender’s office, was one of three candidates who interviewed for the interim position last week. Jose Villarreal is retiring from the post July 1. Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, who took part in last week’s interviews, said Greenwood, 48, is the top contender for the job. In April, county supervisors said they would conduct a national search to fill the $199,047-a-year appointed position. But on Thursday, board Chairwoman Liz Kniss announced that the board had decided to forgo a broad search and focus on internal candidates instead. Alvarado, who is chairwoman of the county’s public safety and justice committee, said Friday she will recommend Greenwood for the job during the board’s May 23 board meeting. But Alvarado added that a special board meeting may be called this week to finalize the hire. Greenwood’s “experience is very broad and very deep,” Alvarado said. “We want someone who is highly capable, which Mary is.” Alvarado said she’d like Greenwood’s interim contract to run for six months. If all goes well, she could be offered the job permanently, Alvarado added. “This is really too important a role to leave open,” said Kniss. Greenwood, who has worked as a public defender almost exclusively since 1982, said she hopes very much to get picked for the job. “I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m either the right fit right now or I’m not,” Greenwood said last week. Greenwood’s name has been mentioned for weeks as the best fit for the position. She’s so highly regarded around the Hall of Justice that the two other candidates who were interviewed for the interim job — David Mann and Grant Armstrong, both of whom retired from the public defender’s office in the last year — said they’d be pleased if Greenwood got the job, Alvarado said. Although it is still another six weeks before Villarreal’s retirement, Kniss said she’d like to hire an interim PD soon so that he or she can oversee the budget process. Villarreal, who beat out Greenwood for the job in 1995, has stated that he doesn’t plan to make any endorsements for his successor. Alvarado said that after the hire is approved by supervisors, she will recommend that the board also approve a management audit of the 200-employee PD’s office. Due to budget pressures, 26 employees, 12 of them lawyers, have been cut from the payroll over the past three years, according to Deputy Public Defender Andrea Flint. And Villarreal said last week that there will be more cuts made to the department’s $34.8 million budget before he leaves in July. However, he did say that there wouldn’t be any more layoffs. “We are in some very challenging times,” Alvarado said.

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