Jim Grant, county's chief administrative officer, to retire

Jim Grant, who took over as San Luis Obispo County’s top executive after his predecessor was fired and who is widely credited with bringing stability to a scandal-plagued and recession-struck county government, will retire this fall, The Tribune has learned.

Grant sent an email to department leaders Tuesday morning announcing that he would be leaving, several sources said.

Reached Tuesday morning, Grant said he thinks the county is now in good financial shape, and it is time to move on after 33 years working for the county government.

“We’re hitting on all cylinders,” he said.

Grant was effusive in his praise for his “great group” of department leaders, the Board of Supervisors and county employees, whose unions made concessions in order to keep people from being fired or laid off.

He took over as the county’s chief administrative officer after his predecessor and former boss David Edge was fired in May 2009. Edge’s hand-picked, would-be successor, Gail Wilcox, was also fired, leaving the county administration in disarray.

All this happened as the recession was ravaging the budget.

Grant said he felt his job was to “pull people together” and help “figure out how to get out of the mess we were in.”

He did exactly that, and did it well, his bosses on the Board of Supervisors say.

Grant’s “steady demeanor” and the trust he inspired in employees were just what the county needed, Supervisor Frank Mecham said.

Grant “came in at the most difficult time anybody could come in,” Supervisor Adam Hill said. He said the board has “always been very trusting” of Grant and that he and the board have had “a great relationship.”

Mecham said the county would likely seek to replace Grant by looking internally. There is no need for a costly broader search when the talent lies within, he said.