Fired Wabasha County coordinator hopes successor a good fit
WABASHA — After seeing her position terminated and then being fired in front of an audience and TV camera on Jan. 22, an upset and mystified Bridget Hoffman walked back to her Wabasha County coordinator's office, shut down her computer, handed in...
WABASHA — After seeing her position terminated and then being fired in front of an audience and TV camera on Jan. 22, an upset and mystified Bridget Hoffman walked back to her Wabasha County coordinator's office, shut down her computer, handed in her keys and walked out the door.
Two weeks later, she was shaking off the shock and stepping into her future, looking for another job, a "fulfilling and wonderful new opportunity and career."
"I'm OK," she said. "It was hard at first, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
The job she was thrilled to get less than a half year before had fallen victim to a change in the politics of the county board.
No one had said she had done a poor job. Still, she was out of work.
"It was very emotional that day," she said during a Jan. 30 interview. "I feel I had a lot more to give."
She's not upset with the board. "As much as I want to be, it's not going to change their minds, unfortunately," she said.
She was hired in August after the county board, on a 3-2 vote, eliminated the county administrator position on Jan. 1, 2012. But the politics of the board changed when Merl Norman was defeated by Don Springer in November; Norman favored a county coordinator, who is paid less and wields less authority, while Springer favored a county administrator.
A county committee and a hired consultant have recommended the county return to an administrator form of government, where the administrator has more power and day-to-day control.
On Jan. 22, the board voted to eliminate the coordinator position and the coordinator. Hoffman said she knew it was on the agenda but hoped that she would be kept on for a few months so she could finish some work and wait until an administrator was hired.
Also upsetting was her dream of bringing some stability to the county and its sharply divided board.
"I really thought I could make a difference, make it better," Hoffman said. "I was a clean slate."
Though beginning to heal, Hoffman said "I wouldn't say that I'm over it. It was hard. It was not an easy situation. But there's a reason. There's obviously a bigger plan out there for me."
She thinks the staff was warming up to her and she was getting to know them, and morale was improving. Then she was gone.
If she had had a chance to say goodbye, Hoffman said she would have said "that this is a great bunch of employees that I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with."
Now, she's looking for a new job, hoping for better things in some kind of management position. At the county, she learned she liked that. Taking the coordinator position, even when she knew it was tenuous, was the right choice, she said.
"I don't regret it, I can't regret it," she said. "It was a great experience."
She hasn't given up looking for a job in public administration, but she is looking at other fields too. "I'm throwing my resumes out there," Hoffman said.
And she hopes the county will find a good path, one that leads to stability. "I really hope that they find someone that wants to work there, is good at what they do and will be a great fit," she said.