LETHBRIDGE - When former City Manager Garth Sherwin made the decision to retire, it wasn't long before Kathy Hopkins literally got a knock on her door and was presented with an offer to become the interim City Manager.
"The original commitment was just a few months, and it seemed like the right thing to do. The few months went on, and I can tell you once we identified a new City Manager, I had been ready to go."
Hopkins retired in 2015, after working for the city for more than 30 years; 20 of them in senior management positions including Community Services, Planning, and Corporate Services. She says she came back to provide stability, a good community connection and because she wanted to help.
Not only does she feel she helped over the last 10 months, but that important projects were completed with her guidance.
"There were a number of things that I didn't anticipate that I would be involved in. It was more than keeping the boat going, it was actually moving the ship."
That included acquiring the Regional Airport from Lethbridge County - something Hopkins counts as one of the biggest highlights.
"I do think it's a massive step for our community. It is an important part for our future economic growth. But also, for the liveability of our community."
And as Councillor Ryan Parker pointed out at the end of Tuesday's council meeting, she is the only woman to have served as a City Manager in the city's history.
"You know, I was a lone female on the senior management team for almost 20 years, and I look now, and there's three of us. So, I think it's a wave of the future. There's a lot of fabulous younger women here... and I think you'll see more of this kind of thing."
Incoming CAO, Bramwell Strain, who was introduced at a special council meeting in mid-July, is expected to take over the reins shortly. Hopkins says he needs to rely on the wisdom of the other members of the senior management team, and that controversy is part of the job as well.
"In fact, it's the robust and healthy part of it," she explains. "Part of the reason I love this job is I really respect democracy. And you know, democracy isn't working if we're all getting along all the time. There are different points of view. And so, he's seasoned in federal and provincial politics, which is party politics. And if I have any advice, it's that this is not party politics. There is no one caucusing back there and polling to get a direction. These are nine members with nine different ideas, and sometimes they won't agree. And it's just part of the gig."
Now that she can count herself as retired once again, Hopkins plans to go to England for a holiday in September and to spend more time with her grandchild and other family members.
"I didn't think I'd be good at retirement the first time. I know I'll be good at it this time."
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