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County administrator resigns after 22-year government career

County administrator resigns after 22-year government career
Juliana Yao / The SPOKE

By Juliana Yao, Co-Sports Editor

After five and a half years of passing budgets, improving transit service, investing in park development and mounting a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Robert Kagel resigned from his position as the Chester County administrator on April 5.

Kagel originally joined the county government as an emergency medical technician in 2002. A volunteer in Kagel’s fire company informed him about a newly created position in the Chester County Department of Emergency Services that would create a fire and emergency medical service reporting software and make it accessible to the county.

“I looked at it, and I ended up fighting for it and got offered the job,” Kagel said. “The rest, they say, is history.”

In 2007, Kagel earned the department title of assistant director for quality, and in 2010, he became the department’s deputy director. In August 2018, Kagel became county administrator, the highest non-elected position in the Chester County government.

As the overseer of the county’s operations, he worked through the COVID-19 pandemic, which he found to be one of the most challenging experiences of his career. Kagel said that he worked 20-hour days to manage the outbreak and drew on his previous experience in emergency services.

“Sometimes it’s about the right person being in the right place at the right time,” Kagel said. “I had a 16-year career in our department of emergency services, and I made a real impact on our preparedness efforts. Being in this role helped steer the ship from a larger policy perspective.”

Kagel’s background as a first responder contributed to the implementation of tax credit for fire and emergency medical service volunteers. Chester County board of commissioners chair Josh Maxwell said that one of Kagel’s greatest accomplishments was more personal: developing community within the government.

“He has worked for the county for 22 years — he started in his early 20s — so I think he has a unique ability to relate to everybody,” Maxwell said. “He’s able to build connections with us.”

The long working hours during the pandemic and concerns over mail-in ballots prompted Kagel to discuss his resignation with his wife a year ago.

“You can’t be everywhere at once. We can’t be all things to everybody, and setting boundaries and enforcing those boundaries is critical to success,” Kagel said. “I want opportunities to really prioritize my family and not feel like I’m shortchanging or not giving my all to my other obligations.”

As the county administration looks for a replacement, Kagel plans to take around a month to spend time with his family and afterwards continue working in policy or the government.

“I feel like the things that we have done have helped make people’s lives easier and better. I don’t think there’s many people in this world that can say day in and day out that’s what they get to do,” Kagel said. “It’s been an incredibly rewarding career.”

Juliana Yao can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Juliana Yao
Juliana Yao, Co-Opinion Editor
Juliana Yao is a junior and the Co-Sports Editor of The Spoke. She was previously a Staff Reporter and often writes for the Sports and Opinion sections. Aside from The Spoke, she is a member of the varsity girls’ swim team. As a sports editor, she oversees the writing and journalistic process of reporters in her section.