Every job has a "first": doctors treat their first patient, lawyers work their first case, educators teach their first class.
Retiring Public Works Director Bill Campbell still remembers his first Redmond traffic signal, located at the intersection of Bel-Red Road and West Lake Sammamish Parkway and put in shortly after Campbell began working with the city in 1990.
These days, Campbell says, the city is talking about the possibility of removing the stop light and replacing it with a roundabout.
"I always threatened that I would definitely retire when that happened, because if my first project gets torn out, that's a good sign that's it's time for me to head on out," he said with a laugh.
Campbell, whose last day is April 30, was hired as a project engineer when Redmond Town Center was beginning to develop and the Public Works Department needed extra help with related infrastructure projects. In the 22 years since then, Campbell served as manager of the department's construction engineering division and city engineer before being promoted to public works director in 2007.
Campbell, 64, has no set plans for retirement at this time but says he's looking forward to golfing more with his wife of nearly 40 years and continuing to hit the links on courses around the world. The couple lives in Issaquah and belongs to Bear Creek Country Club in Woodinville.
Campbell joined the City of Redmond staff after moving from Eastern Washington to the Seattle area, where his wife took a new job in banking. Having already worked for the state department of transportation and as a community college instructor, Campbell said he turned down jobs with other nearby jurisdictions and decided to work for the City of Redmond because he was impressed with its forward-thinking attitude.
"I found Redmond to be more sophisticated than some of the other places that I talked to," he said. "They seemed to have their act together."
In the past two decades, the Public Works Department has been charged with keeping up with a great deal of residential and commercial growth, which Campbell acknowledges was not always an easy task.
"In all the years I've been here, I've never been bored at work," he said.
One of his proudest accomplishments as director, he said, was obtaining more snow removal equipment and training for city staff in the wake of the crippling 2008 snow storms. Campell says he is happy with how his staff handled last January's storm and that the response from residents was much more positive this time around.
He's also pleased with the way the city's transportation system continues to respond to growth and development. Early on, Campbell said, the department decided a multi-modal approach that left room for bikes, pedestrians and transit was better than simply widening roads and adding more traffic lanes.
"That's the answer for having a truly liveable city that works," he said, adding a favorite saying from a former colleague: "You can never build your way out of it, so what you try to do is find ways to manage it."