MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County Administrative Officer Charles McKee will be retiring at the end of the year after serving 31 years in local government, county officials announced last week.
“I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team on behalf of our residents, businesses, stakeholders and employees as we pursue the interests and equity for all in our diverse county,” McKee said in a county news release April 26. “I am convinced that the County of Monterey will continue to be an increasingly strong force in providing professional, vital services and will bring innovative and enterprising approaches to local government.”
Over the past 19 years with the County of Monterey, McKee has created a culture of mutual respect, collaboration and innovation within the County Administrative Office, the 27 county departments, the larger community and among stakeholders.
In 2000, McKee left the Marin County Counsel’s Office to become County Counsel of Nevada County. He then served as Monterey County Counsel from 2003 to 2019, when he was selected by the Board of Supervisors to be the county administrative officer.
Confirmed to the office on Sept. 17, 2019, McKee was able to make a seamless transition to the county’s top office, as he brought a depth of knowledge of county issues and needs.
“McKee is the type of leader that is passionate about team building and thrives on challenges,” said Supervisor Chris Lopez, who represents District 3 in South Monterey County. “He is most admired for his thoughtful and easy-going collaborative style, as well as his keen ability to analyze a situation to bring about the best possible outcomes for the people of the county.”
From a very early age, McKee was intrigued by government, politics and the interplay with the economy. Early in his studies he was focused on the national and international stage; however, after law school, he realized that making a difference in people’s lives is best achieved at the local level.
McKee worked and volunteered in a variety of positions to gain perspective on how organizations operate and how people should be treated, stating, “Attitude is a big part of a positive work environment to me. My perspective on management was shaped by both work life and volunteer activities.”
McKee envisioned and managed great change throughout Monterey County by fostering innovation among department heads and empowering people at every level of government.
“Monterey is fortunate to have professionals at every level of county government that are highly qualified, dedicated and passionate community servants,” he said.
McKee’s dedication and tireless energy resulted in the county’s full court press response to local emergencies, including wildfires and the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as strong fiscal management of the resources entrusted to the county, so that no layoffs occurred during the pandemic, the budgets were balanced and agreements successfully negotiated with labor unions.
He also led change efforts, including stabilizing health insurance funding, the separation of the Resource Management Agency into two separate departments and the groundwork for healthcare service alignment with Natividad Medical Center and the county’s Health Department.
“Charles has been an effective leader during the most challenging of times. His legal background and depth of experience have been a tremendous asset,” said Supervisor Luis Alejo. “Without question, he’s a tireless advocate for the people of Salinas and Monterey County, which is why many of us requested he reconsider and extend his service to our county just a little more.”
McKee’s legacy leaves a lasting impact on more than 5,000 county employees, and this number doesn’t include the extended county family who were also impacted through his efforts, compassion and leadership.
“It has been my great privilege to work with an exceptionally dedicated and skilled team of executives and managers who lead the most talented group of public servants I have ever worked with in all my years in government,” McKee said. “I am exceedingly grateful for all the long hours and hard work county employees put in to ensure every person who needs our services receives them in a compassionate and professional way.”
He continued, “It is now time for me to seek new adventures and for the next leader of Monterey County to guide the big ship.”
While McKee initially proposed October 2022 for retirement, he agreed with the Board of Supervisors’ request to stay at least until Dec. 31, 2022, unless a successor is appointed sooner. The process of recruiting for his replacement will commence soon.
The county is planning to celebrate McKee’s varied contributions at a retirement event, the date and time of which is to be announced.