Business / Economy

County public works director, special projects manager passes away

Joe Horwedel passed away Feb. 22 after battling cancer

San Benito County Public Works Director and Special Projects Manager Joe Horwedel passed after a short but aggressive fight with cancer. He lives on through his wife and daughter, and a vast number of agencies and individuals his work impacted over the last 30 years in government planning, most of which focused in San Jose, and the last two years in San Benito County.

Some of Mr. Horwedel’s work in San Benito County includes the development of the Resource Management Agency, an agency that combined Public Works, Planning, and Integrated Waste to improve efficiencies for the direct benefit of the public, and cost savings. All county departments as well as city departments are grief-stricken over this loss as Joe was a mentor, a leader, and a dedicated public servant with a passion for thoughtful and holistic planning.

RMA Director Brent Barnes said, “Joe was a consummate professional with a wry sense of humor. He was action oriented and always eager to cut through the red tape to get projects done. His leadership paved the way for the Homeless Services Center, the jail expansion, creation of the Resource Management Agency, approval of the San Juan Oaks project, and countless other projects and activities that benefited the entire county. He was also a great mentor for staff and offered sage advice based on long experience to elected and appointed community leaders.”

Mr. Horwedel's reach extended far beyond the Resource Management Agency. Office of Emergency Services Manager Kevin O’Neill said, “Joe was always insightful and helpful, he didn’t sugar coat anything and told you what you needed to know, not what you wanted to hear.  The mentoring I received from him will stick with me my whole career.”

After receiving the news of his passing, the County Board of Supervisors had a moment of silence during its meeting on Feb. 23.

On behalf of the County of San Benito, we would like to offer our deepest condolences to the friends and family of our colleague, friend, and leader; Joseph Horwedel.