Monterey County Administrative Officer Lew Bauman has weathered some rough storms in 20 years—literally and figuratively. Besides helping the county recover after punishing weather, Bauman has been at the helm or in leadership through the dot-com crash, the Great Recession and the 2008 Basin Complex and 2016 Soberanes fires.
The era of his steady leadership is now coming to an end. He’s retiring as of Sept. 14, the county announced in a press release on May 30.
He leaves just one day after the anniversary of his start date, Sept. 13, 1999. He joined Monterey County as the public works director then, having worked previously as city engineer for Foster City and senior engineer in San Jose.
Bauman took over as county administrative officer in January 2005 following the retirement of former CAO Sally Reed. Over 14 years he’s been responsible to the Board of Supervisors to provide a wide range of services to county residents.
“It’s been a great privilege and pleasure to serve the boards since 2005 and to see what the county team has done in that decade and a half,” he says.
Some of his prouder moments: the turnaround of Natividad Medical Center; financing of the county’s Road Fund and rebuilding infrastructure; stabilizing the county’s budget process; the recent turnaround at Laguna Seca Raceway; and the reorganization of departments for efficiency, including consolidating land use and related services into the Resource Management Agency.
“Not only has Lew been a great leader and an excellent administrator, but he has set an example of community service beyond his career in public service,” Chair of the Monterey County Board of Supervisors John Phillips said in a statement. “He will be tough to replace and we’ll miss him.”
Phillips was referring to the many nonprofit boards and commissions Bauman has served on, including Natividad, United Way, Community Health Innovations and Monterey Rotary. He’s also served on boards for the American Society of Civil Engineers, American Public Works Association, and previously served as Director, South Central Coast Section, of the County Engineers’ Association of California.
Bauman says Monterey County is his home “without question,” so he plans on remaining local in retirement and expects to keep up the community service. One area of potential involvement for him is the ocean, having started out in his career as a marine scientist.
The Board of Supervisors will begin a nationwide search immediately, says Bauman. Similar searches generally take two to three months.