HANFORD — When Rebecca Campbell found out she would be Kings County’s new county administrative officer, she said it felt “surreal” and took a little while to soak in.

“It was very exciting,” Campbell said. “I’m grateful that I had the privilege to work for Larry [Spikes], and I feel like I’ve learned so much from him.”

Campbell will take over as CAO at the beginning of the New Year after Spikes retired from the position this month after 24 years.

“I think she’s going to do great,” Spikes said. “She knows the stuff she needs to know about budgeting and relationships that she’s developed, and that I’ve hopefully helped her develop with all of my connections around the state.”

When Campbell officially takes over as CAO on Jan. 1, she will be only the fourth CAO in Kings County history and will oversee an annual budget of $330 million and a staff of 1,550 people. She said there is fairly new leadership in the county departments, and she wants to make sure everyone works together on the issues and stays in the right direction.

“I’m up for the challenge,” Campbell said. “I’m going to work as hard as I can to stay on and to do good for Kings County.”

Campbell grew up in Maine and joined the U.S. Navy after high school, where she served for about 10 years as an electronics technician. She said she was stationed at various locations, mainly on the East Coast and overseas in places like Italy and Iceland.

Campbell earned her bachelor’s degree in information systems management from the University of Maryland University College while in the Navy. Later, she earned her master’s degree in business administration.

After her time in the Navy, Campbell said she ended up in Kings County due to extended family in the state and said she naturally gravitated toward looking for a government job.

Campbell said she got her foot in the door by working as an office assistant for the Kings County public works department starting in 2005. From there, she became a fiscal analyst in the information technology department and later began working in the administration office on things like grant writing.

She had been a management analyst and deputy county administrative officer before eventually becoming the assistant CAO about two years ago. As assistant CAO, she was responsible for day-to-day operations of the administrative office, including long-range planning and implementing policies of the board of supervisors.

Campbell was instrumental in the county directly receiving $74 million in federal and state grants  for various county public safety and health care-related programs. She said she’s looking forward to seeing the results of the programs as CAO.

Campbell said she wanted residents of Kings County to know that she’s going to work hard and do the best she can to move the county forward and make sure there is growth, all while tackling the challenges coming from the state and federal levels.

“I look forward to working with leadership, staff and the community to make decisions on how the county will look 10 to 20 years from now,” Campbell said.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com