Craig Pedro will retire as Tuolumne County’s top executive by the end of the year following a career in public service that spans nearly four decades.

Pedro, the county administrator since 2006, announced his retirement plans in a brief but emotional speech to the county Board of Supervisors at a public meeting on Tuesday.

“I am making this announcement now to give the board the time it needs to recruit my successor and will coordinate my actual departure date in conjunction with that effort,” Pedro said.

The 58-year-old started his career in local government as an administrative intern with the City of Madera in 1980.

Pedro, a fifth-generation Sonora native, landed his first job with Tuolumne County in 1984 as a management analyst and worked his way up to assistant county administrator before ascending to the top position in November 2006.

“It has been an honor to serve my fellow citizens in the community I grew up in and in the community that I love, but as it says in the book of Ecclesiastes, ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,’ ” Pedro said.

In an interview, Pedro said several factors played a part in his decision.

Pedro said he would like to be able to give more of his time to his wife of 38 years, Ruth, their three grown children, William, James and Christa, and four grandchildren.

He also said he would like to spend more time with his mother, Lonnie. His father, Bob, died in February.

The topic of Pedro’s inevitable retirement has come up in private discussions with the board in the past during performance evaluations and contract renewals, but he said it’s become more of a topic in the past year.

Pedro said he has also been greatly influenced by a book suggested to him by his pastor at Sierra Bible Church in East Sonora titled “From Success to Significance: When the Pursuit of Success Isn’t Enough,” written by Lloyd Reeb.

“It talks about when someone ends their successful early-life career and takes that to build a life of significance,” he said.

Pedro said his inclination toward public service comes from his father, who was well known in the community for being involved in youth programs and other civic groups.

He became interested in pursuing a career in government when he was a student at Sonora High during a visit to the school by then Assemblyman — and now Congressman — John Garamendi, who told students that good government requires good people.

“This was in the shadow of Watergate and cynicism of government, but he was encouraging us to think about public service,” Pedro said.

Pedro’s 12 years serving as county administrator began at a rough time for the county financially as it was winding down operations at Tuolumne General Hospital.

Among other notable achievements, Pedro guided the county through the Great Recession that required considerable cuts and restructuring in the early 2010s and helped see through the completion of the East Sonora Bypass in 2013.

He also shepherded the largest project in county history, a roughly $138 million Law and Justice Center with a new jail, juvenile hall and courthouse off Old Wards Ferry Road in Sonora.

With the $40 million new jail under construction and the $65 million courthouse anticipated to break ground, Pedro said he will develop a succession plan with the board to ensure a smooth transition.

Pedro received a standing ovation at Tuesday’s meeting. Many of the audience members had worked under him for much of their careers.

“While I am not leaving right away, I do want to express my thanks to my predecessors and past and current boards for the opportunity to serve in this community and to my awesome staff, talented department heads, elected and appointed alike, and dedicated line employees that make this organization such a pleasure to serve in,” Pedro said at the conclusion of his announcement.

All of the supervisors gave positive remarks about Pedro.

“His service guided us through so many disasters, the Rim Fire, the recession,” said District 3 Supervisor Evan Royce. “I’ve never questioned his dedication to Tuolumne County.”

District 2 Supervisor Randy Hanvelt said that Pedro will be difficult to replace.

“Whoever we get is going to have some big shoes to fill,” Hanvelt said. “No one’s going to come in without years of experience.”

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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