Los Angeles County CEO Bill Fujioka announced June 26 that he will retire at the end of November after more than seven years as the county’s top official.
“When I took my current position, I made a commitment that I would stay five years,” Fujioka, 61, wrote in his retirement message to the county. “However, when our county was faced with the devastating impact of the recent recession, I felt that it was important that I stay to help weather the storm.
“Now that we have strong signs of financial stability and economic growth, it’s time to move on to the next adventure.”
Fujioka is a public administrator with more than 36 years of experience in local government. As county CEO, he implemented a new governance structure whereby the CEO exercises executive authority over most county departments and operations.
The CEO is responsible for managing the largest county in the nation (over 10 million residents), with a budget of approximately $23 billion and over 100,000 employees; and is responsible for countywide policy and program leadership, from health and social services to public safety, community and municipal services to recreation/culture and the arts.
One of his major accomplishments was heading efforts to build a new Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital in South Los Angeles, in partnership with the University of California.
Fujioka first came to work for the county in 1978 and held various positions — examinations analyst, Civil Service appeals analyst, personnel officer, and administrator in the Department of Health Services, including administrator and chief executive officer of High Desert Hospital/Antelope Valley Cluster.
He left the county in 1997 to become general manager of the Personnel Department for the City of Los Angeles. In August 1999, he was named Los Angeles’ city administrative officer and served for eight years in that capacity. After a brief retirement, he was appointed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors as the first CEO in July 2007.
Born and raised in Los Angeles County, Fujioka graduated cum laude from UC Santa Cruz in 1974 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology (social research). He is married to Darlene Kuba and has one son, Jason, who is in college.
“During my 40 years in public service, I’ve had the pleasure of working in many different assignments with both the County and City of Los Angeles,” Fujioka wrote in his announcement to county employees. “My current assignment has been truly exceptional because of the opportunity to work with each one of you. It was through the collective efforts of many that the county of Los Angeles was able to meet the challenges of the recession better than any other municipality or county.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that Fujioka brought “intelligence, savvy and wit to the city and the county” and is “a public servant in the truest sense of the word.”
Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, describing Fujioka as a “good friend,” said the CEO “did a good job for L.A. County” and wished him well “in the next phase of his life.”
City News Service contributed to this story.