Julie Sinai, mayor's chief of staff, is moving to a university government relations post. Photo: Alameda County Office of Education

Julie Sinai, chief of staff to Mayor Tom Bates for the last nine years, will be the new Director of Local Government and Community Relations at UC Berkeley starting in January.

“The areas I’m really hoping to be engaged in are developing the innovation, economic and educative pathways for the East Bay,” Sinai said. “There’s a momentum around those issues that wasn’t there a few years ago,”. Sinai cited projects like the East Bay Green Corridor and the recently opened Skydeck from the Berkeley Startup Cluster.

From the start of his first term in 2002, Bates passed up the mayor’s salary (he receives a pension from his two decades as a state assemblyman representing Berkeley) and used the funds to hire Sinai. Sinai was the mayor’s policy advisor on youth, education, jobs, health, social service issues, and inter-government relations. She had previously worked for the Berkeley Unified School District.

She will replace Caleb Dardick in the university’s Office of Government and Community Relations, who left the post earlier this year. According to Sinai, her role will involve more than just the city of Berkeley, encompassing the greater Bay Area.

In an email about her move on Wednesday to her contacts, Sinai wrote: “With all levels of education massively under siege from multiple fronts, I’ve decided that this is where I need to refocus my professional efforts. This position gives me the opportunity to work for accessible and quality education by strengthening the partnerships between the University and Berkeley, the East Bay, the greater Bay Area, and the private sector.”

Sinai told Berkeleyside that her departure does not signal anything about Mayor Bates’ intentions on seeking a third term. “I completely, whole-heartedly support his agenda,” she said. “It was just time for me to change.”

Sinai’s last day in the Mayor’s office will be November 30th. She will begins at UC Berkeley on January 2nd 2012.

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Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...