Washington County Administrator Molly O'Rourke announced Thursday that she will step down from her position next month.

When she retires in late January, O'Rourke, 61, will have served as county administrator for eight years. She began her career with Washington County in 1995 when she was hired as a deputy to longtime auditor-treasurer Dick Stafford.

O'Rourke said she's leaving to spend more time with her husband, who is retired, and her four grandchildren. She said she expects to work with nonprofits at some point but has no specific plans.

"I just got two awards this past year, so I feel like I'm leaving on top right now," she said, laughing. "It's been a wonderful career and it's been a great organization."

O'Rourke, a University of Minnesota Duluth grad with a master's in public administration from Hamline University, started working as a community organizer in St. Paul. She was an aide to St. Paul City Council Member Kiki Sonnen, then a policy analyst for St. Paul Mayor Jim Scheibel.

In 1991, Scheibel appointed O'Rourke city clerk, where she coordinated city elections and facilitated council business. She continued to work for St. Paul under Mayor Norm Coleman, serving briefly as information and complaint director.

After following Stafford as interim auditor-treasurer in Washington County, O'Rourke became the county's director of assessment, taxation and elections. She was named deputy county administrator in 2001.

In January 2012, the County Board chose O'Rourke over two other candidates as county administrator. The County Board will discuss hiring O'Rourke's successor Tuesday.

Kevin Duchschere