Ten days into Linda Hoffmann’s tenure as Larimer County manager, the High Park Fire ignited and became one of the most destructive fires in Colorado history.
Last week – after nearly a decade in leadership of the county, where he has led the community through fires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic – Hoffmann retired.
“She certainly earned her right to retire,” Commissioner Kristin Stephens said during Hoffmann’s final meeting of the Board of County Commissioners Administrative Matters on Tuesday.
Hoffmann estimated that she had attended about 500 meetings on administrative matters since her appointment as district leader in 2012.
“It was such an honor,” Hoffmann said during an interview at her office on her last day on Wednesday.
Hoffmann said her path to the top of the district was unconventional. She began her career in the private sector and joined the county in 2008 as the Rural Land Use Manager. About a year and a half later, she was promoted to planning director and in May 2012 to district manager.
Her office was largely empty on Wednesday save for a few large bouquets of flowers from former and current county employees. Hoffmann said it’s the people she met in this role that she will miss the most.
“The county leadership of all 10 elected officers, both present and past, is dedicated to both the present and future of our community, has a great passion for service and is a good listener,” said Hoffmann.
She said the staff are passionate and find creative ways to “make adjustments to meet the needs of our community.” The county has a history of working with other local governments across the state and at the regional level, and many of those people have been influential during their careers, Hoffmann said.
Commissioner Jody Shadduck-McNally said during Tuesday’s meeting that Hoffmann is “an advocate” for county government and a resource and example for other local government leaders across the state.
Through the past decade’s disasters and emergencies, “the county has shone and risen and focused on its core services,” said Shadduck-McNally, thanks largely to Hoffmann, who led the county’s strategic planning process and its focus on guiding principles.
“I think a leader’s role is mostly establishing culture and setting vision,” Hoffmann said in her interview with the Coloradoan. “These two vehicles (strategic planning and guiding principles) are really the tools we used to drive the culture of the organization through our guiding principles and to set a real vision through the strategic plan.”
Those processes that Hoffmann brought to the county are “how we’re doing things now,” Shadduck-McNally said.
The strategic planning process occurs every five years, and commissioners go through an extensive process to set goals and priorities for the county’s next needs, Hoffmann said. Behavioral health services and emergency management improvements are core services that emerged from the recent strategic planning process.
“These are very tangible core services that grew out of focused strategic goals that are operational now and we’ve moved on to new initiatives and I’m proud of that,” said Hoffmann.
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When she resigned from her position last week, Hoffmann said the county is in good hands and she has “confidence in the decisions that are being made and the good work that is being done.”
Hoffmann said she hopes community members can overcome their differences and focus their energies on solving common issues like housing, child care and regional transportation — all issues in the county’s strategic plan.
“I hope that some of the fear and division can be resolved,” Hoffmann said. “We’ve been through a very difficult time in American history, and it’s not the best future for our community. … I wish we could focus more on putting energy into solutions.”
Hoffmann doesn’t have any firm plans for her retirement, but she said she has many ideas. She likes to read for pleasure, not to prepare for a district or board meeting, she said, and spends some time on landscaping and home improvement projects.
She also looks forward to traveling and—just as importantly—planning her trips, something she said she couldn’t do because she always worked right up to every trip she’s taken.
One thing that’s not on Hoffmann’s retirement to-do list is attending district meetings.
“Knowing that my role here is coming to an end is really satisfying and exciting because there are so many players there to carry the ball forward,” said Hoffmann at the commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday. “…It allows me to step back and know that everything is in good hands.”
Deputy district manager Lorenda Volker will be the interim district manager while the district hires Hoffmann’s successor. Volker has been deputy district manager since 2008.
Sady Swanson covers public safety, criminal justice, Larimer County government and more throughout northern Colorado. You can send her your story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sadyswan. Support their work and that of other Colorado journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.