HANFORD — Larry Spikes talks like he works for the government.
One question about how Kings County has changed over the years leads him to talking about state policies, taxes, Gov. Jerry Brown and the local court system. It’s intimidating and fascinating at the same time.
But what more can you expect from someone who has worked as the county administrative officer for over two decades, has reviewed approximately 20,000 agenda items and has attended roughly 1,200 board meetings.
Friday, however, was Spikes last day on the job. In the summer he announced he would retire after 36 years with the county.
Spikes grew up in Fresno and attended California State University, Fresno, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1981 and his master’s degree in public administration in 1992.
He said he started his career with the county in 1981 as an accountant in the auditor-controller’s office, where he worked for five years. He then worked as an analyst in the administration office and eventually became a deputy county administrative officer.
In November 1993, Spikes became county administrative officer. While at that position, he recently had the distinction of being the longest-running active CAO in the state at 24 years, something he didn’t give much thought to.
“I never set out to do it, you know, it just happened,” Spikes said with a shrug and a chuckle.
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Rebecca Campbell, assistant county administrative officer and Spikes’ successor. “Larry has done a lot for the state and he’s very well respected up and down the state.”
Looking back, Spikes said Kings County has definitely changed and grown over the years.
“When you see incremental change over 24 years, you don’t see it year in and year out,” Spikes said. “But we’ve seen a lot of changes to the physical plant of the Government Center and the outlying areas as well.”
Along with being involved with the establishment of the California Public Finance Authority, Spikes said one of the greatest achievements of his career was getting the four-story Kings County Superior Court built.
“Kings County’s project was possibly going to be shelved and delayed,” Spikes said, adding he was in the right place at the right time on the Court Facilities Advisory Committee to be able to advocate on behalf of the county. “The result was it got built. We were fortunate in that regard.”
Spikes said he has high expectations for the growth and future of the county, citing Kelly Slater’s Wave Pool and the growing Naval Air Station Lemoore.
While Campbell considers Spikes’ retirement as a “big loss” to the county, Spikes remains humble and said he knows the county will be just fine in her hands.
“Rebecca’s going to take over and they won’t miss a beat,” Spikes said.
When asked what he will miss most about his job, Spikes doesn’t even hesitate before he answers with, “the people.”
“I’ll miss the camaraderie with everybody,” Spikes said. “To me, Kings County has a culture where we’re all on the same team, pulling in the same direction.”
Spikes has worked with 16 different supervisors on the county board of supervisors, and said they all have established a common goal with the department heads and employees to do well on behalf of Kings County residents.
Something he won’t miss?
“Having to figure out how to make budget cuts,” he said. “That’s never pleasant.”
Spikes has been a part of numerous boards and committees during his tenure and leaving them will give him a lot of extra time. He said he won’t completely disappear, though; he plans to sit on the judicial council’s Court Facilities Advisory Committee for another year.
Spikes has been married to his wife, Kristi, for 35 years and they have three grown children: a son, Austin, and twin daughters, Madison and Taylor.
He said he has a few things planned with his kids after he retires, including trips to the Sundance Film Festival, watching NASCAR in Las Vegas and watching spring training in March. From there, not even he knows what will come next.
“It’s been a good run,” Spikes said. “I appreciate all the help everybody gave me over my 36 years at the county.”