A Moment With the Mayor
Greg Hoffman will soon mark 10 years as Chippewa Falls' chief executive
"I don’t sit here and hang my hat on one thing … This area is just having phenomenal growth. It’s really amazing to see what we had happen." – Greg Hoffman, Mayor of Chippewa Falls
This summer Greg Hoffman will celebrate 10 years as mayor of Chippewa Falls, a decade that has heralded steady growth and civic improvement in the city. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years,” said Hoffman, who previously served seven years on the City Council. “I don’t know where the time has gone.” Whether he’s fielding praise or complaints from some of the city’s 14,000 residents, the amiable 67-year-old mayor says he enjoys working with the public. “The people in Chippewa Falls have been very kind to me,” Hoffman says. “I get an upset citizen once in a while, but we can sit down and come to some kind of a resolution.” Hoffman, who has lived in the city for 42 years, said he’s not yet ready to retire from his mayoral duties: He plans on running for another two-year term next April, in part because there are several projects – including improvements to Erickson and Allen parks – that he’d like to see through to completion. However, he says wryly, “I tell people the minute I become an anchor, let me know, so I can go home.” Volume One recently chatted with Hoffman about his public service, his city, and what the future holds for both. This has been edited for clarity and length
Volume One: You’ve been mayor almost 10 years. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the community over the past decade?
Mayor Greg Hoffman: Someone asked me this question the other day, and you can go in so many different directions. You’ve got job creation, businesses that have expanded, industrial growth. In the last five years we’ve have a significant growth in housing. Also in the last 10 years we’ve had significant growth in new restaurants and new businesses downtown. Teri Ouimette from (Chippewa Falls) Main Street, says if you want to have a viable downtown, you have to have restaurants. And I would totally agree. …
Ten years ago I wouldn’t have said (all this). There were two or three years that were really tough (during the recession). Kind of like a car, we’re running on all cylinders now. We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve been extremely blessed. I tell people that this is a good time to be passing through, because as an elected official we’re just passing through.
What are you proudest about during your tenure as mayor?
There’s isn’t one thing. We made it through Highway 29 (detouring downtown). We put up a new fire station. There’s a lot of things that I’m proud of that we’ve been able to do as a community. I don’t sit here and hang my hat on one thing. … This area (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, and Altoona) is just having phenomenal growth. We’ve been extremely fortunate that we’ve had all this growth. It’s really amazing to see what we had happen.
What makes Chippewa Falls unique?
I believe there are at least 18 businesses in the Chippewa Falls area that are over 100 years old, which is very unique. We offer history, but on the other hand we’re looking toward the future. We offer a lot of uniqueness: the hotel downtown, the microbrewery, Leinenkugel’s, Lake Wissota, hunting, fishing, lots of activities around here – plus the closeness to Eau Claire.
What do you enjoy most about being mayor?
I enjoy the citizens. I enjoy the interaction, I enjoy the banter. Sometimes they give me a hard time. People say, “The park has water in it!” I said, “It’s built to handle the water.” A lot of it is good-natured. … I just enjoy the contact. Like I tell people, you’re welcome to come to the mayor’s office and look around. There’s nothing hidden.
What are the most difficult things about being mayor?
Some of it is – it’s good and bad – some of the constraints that have been put on by the state. We have to do streets, we have to do all these things, but (in terms of property tax levy increases) you can only work off of a certain percentage of new growth. We’ve been very thorough in minimizing expenses. In my 17 years, we’ve eliminated 20-plus positions. I think we need to be functioning so we can provide the services, and the thing that I am proud of is what we offer for community services in the city.
What do you anticipate for the next 10 years in the city?
Good question. It’s kind of funny: I was at an event and one of the citizens asked me, “How big is Chippewa going to get? I don’t want it to get too big so it loses its personality.” I though that was an interesting statement. I think it’s going to grow in terms of industry … but I don’t see a lot of changes (in terms of character). We’ve got a good road map to the future.