Most major/large American cities use a strong-mayor system where the elected mayor is given administrative authority and can appoint/dismiss department heads with little or no red tape. San Jose actually uses a "weak-major" system that is more commonly used in small towns where the mayor has no formal authority outside of the city council. That means that we have a city manager that works very closely with the city council and you can think of as being the CEO of the city. This role is responsible for managing day-to-day operations across 15 departments and our $2.9 billion annual operating and capital budgets.
Debra Figone was our previous city manager since 2007 and is now retiring. Ed Shikada is going to be her replacement. Ed is the current Assistant City Manager and has been working for San Jose since 2003. He's also a Willow Glen Resident and has been active in the Japanese community. Ed has been here through some tough times and stuck it out, so hopefully he will be a key contributor to San Jose's future success. He is going to take the reigns on December 21st.
Sources: The Merc, SVBJ, Wiki