Contra Costa top manager to retire

Contra Costa County Administrator John Cullen will retire in September 2008, Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Mary Nejedly Piepho told the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association at a breakfast meeting this morning in Walnut Creek.

The news is not entirely unexpected although the conservative taxpayers’ group collectively groaned when they heard of Cullen’s decision. They like Cullen, particularly after their tense relationship with his predecessor, John Sweeten, over the county’s budget, pension and retiree benefit woes.

Cullen also won widespread praise and respect from county employees, other county elected officials and the Board of Supervisors as that rare breed of manager who could both make the hard decisions and inspire a teamwork atmosphere.

But Cullen, a veteran county employee promoted in 2006 to the top job from his role as the director of employment and human services, has never suggested that he would remain in the post for an extended period.

For an in-depth look at Cullen’s decision and his career with the county, check on-line or pick up a copy of the Sunday edition of the Contra Costa Times and look for a story on Cullen by reporter Ryan Huff. He met with Cullen earlier this week.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen