Sacramento County CEO to leave next month

Bradley Hudson will step down as Sacramento County’s CEO in January
Bradley Hudson will step down as Sacramento County’s CEO in January rbenton@sacbee.com

Sacramento County Executive Brad Hudson will step down next month to take a job in the private sector, his office said in an announcement Friday that was criticized by the chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

As the county’s top executive, Hudson has been responsible for managing the county’s 11,000 employees and works at the direction of the Board of Supervisors. The county is the largest local government in the region, and provides social services throughout the county and municipal services such as garbage collection to much of the suburbs.

Hudson has eight months remaining in his five-year contract, which paid him almost $300,000 in 2014. Rumors had been circulating that he would not be retained when his contract expired, ever since the board held multiple closed-door meetings to evaluate his performance earlier this year.

Hudson was not available for comment Friday and county spokeswoman Chris Andis said she did not know the name of the company where he will work. The company is based in Orange County, closer to his previous home of Riverside, she said.

“Brad doesn’t wish to release the name of his new employer yet as he needs to respect their communication with customers and stakeholders,” Andis said.

County supervisors will likely hire a recruiting firm to find candidates to replace Hudson. His last day with the county will be Jan. 23.

A press release from Hudson’s office quotes Supervisor Susan Peters as praising his work. “Hudson has been extremely responsive to all of the Board members and we’re appreciative of how he has collaborated with us individually and as a governing board,” she said.

The press release drew criticism from board chair Phil Serna, who said he learned from an associate of Hudson that the county executive intentionally kept Serna from commenting in the release, a departure from the past practice when the board chair typically speaks for the board.

“It’s ironic but telling that the poor manner with which the press release about his departure was handled is apparently the product of Mr. Hudson’s direct intervention and direction,” said Serna. “I’m not going to miss that.”

Serna said he was likely omitted from the press release because he is not a supporter of Hudson. He said the county executive position is a tough job and has been especially so during Hudson’s tenure because of limited resources. But instead of providing supervisors with an honest assessment of those limited resources, Hudson tends to tell supervisors what he thinks they want to hear, Serna said.

Hudson arrived in Sacramento County in 2011 after a two-decade career that included executive positions at the city and county of Riverside. While supporters praised his hard work and initiative, particularly in getting some major community development work done, critics accused him of favoring development friends, a claim he denied.

He quickly was involved in controversy in Sacramento County, as union officials and some supervisors criticized him for buying expensive furniture and other items for his office. The purchases were a source of frustration because the county had been laying off employees for years. Serna made his distaste for the purchases public, noting that he bought the furniture for his office.

In the county’s press release, Hudson is credited with a number of improvements, including negotiating pension reform with most of the county’s employees and helping to restore services since the recession. He also takes credit for improving the county’s website and other efforts to make county government more accessible to the public.