Mike Bordogna officially took over as the new San Miguel County manager Thursday. Outgoing county manager Lynn Black oversaw the transition. She officially retired at the end of this week, after serving San Miguel County for 24 years. (Editor’s note: See Associate Editor Suzanne Cheavens’ front page story for more info on Black’s retirement.)
Although it is hard to see Black leave, San Miguel County commissioners are looking forward to working with Bordogna.
“We’re super happy to have him on board. He was willing to come in early and just dove in,” Commissioner Kris Holstrom said.
Since August, Bordogna has been working with commissioners, and is currently filling in as the building official until someone is found for that position.
“So far I couldn’t ask for a better transition,” Bordogna said in an interview with the Daily Planet. “I’m so thankful for my time with Lynn Black. She’s a walking encyclopedia of this county.”
Bordogna moved to Telluride from Leadville with his wife, Emily, and their two children, Althea and Everett. Although Bordogna and his family loved Leadville, after 16 years they were ready for a change. His decision to move was influenced by the people and lifestyle in Telluride.
“People have an extreme care for this community,” Bordogna said. “The topophilia for this place influences their attitude.”
The opportunities that the region offered his children were also a deciding factor. Before applying for the job, Bordogna spent a week in Telluride with his family.
“One of the things my now 10-year-old daughter said was, ‘I don’t ever want to move, but if we did I want to go to Telluride,’” Bordogna said with a laugh. “What this community offers to young families and kids is kind of extraordinary given our size.”
Before becoming San Miguel County manager, Bordogna worked in Leadville as a county commissioner and then the Lake County administrator from 2009-17. Between 2017 and his transition to Telluride in the summer of 2019, Bordogna served as the executive director for the Lake County Economic Development Corporation.
“Working with the department heads in county government was the time I felt the most alive in my working career,” Bordogna said.
Bordogna’s previous experience helped stood out to the commissioners.
“Mike has a great character and demeanor. He’s going to fit in really well with the county and the region as a whole,” Holstrom said. “He also rolls with the punches, which is kind of important in this job.”
Bordogna is looking forward to the job, which he believes will be more complex than previous stops.
“I think it’s a more challenging landscape both topographically and cost-wise,” he said.
As winter approaches, San Miguel County commissioners are focused on training new personnel and preparing the budget.
“We’ll help Mike get his feet under him. It’s about learning the community. Filling positions is one of the big goals of the fall,” Holstrom said. “We have a whole lot of turnover.”
As personnel changes, Bordogna hopes to make San Miguel County a place where people want to work.
“I think there’s a need to ground the organization and make it a place where people want to come to work,” he said.
Although people can sometimes earn more in the private sector, Bordogna wants to entice young people with public service jobs.
“We want the best and brightest. We have to keep people happy so they see a future working in county government,” he explained.
Outside of the county office, Bordogna has already highlighted some issues that he wants to tackle, such as improving infrastructure. Specifically, Bordogna mentioned continuing to improve broadband services, the water sanitation plant and the gondola.
Affordable housing and workforce support are two central challenges that Bordogna hopes to address with commissioners as well. Without enough affordable housing, too many people are commuting to Telluride to work, he said.
“When you don’t have folks working where they live, they can’t invest emotionally in the community,” Bordogna said.
With more affordable housing, Bordogna hopes that people can be better integrated into the area.
“We can help re-energize the community. I want to see what made Telluride such a cool place in the 1980s and ’90s,” he said.
Bordogna acknowledges that he still has a lot to learn when it comes to these issues.
“I’m new so it’s easy to become myopic on some of these topics,” he said. “I want to prove my worth and my value to the county, but I also want to build relationships and understand all the intricacies of these topics.”
As San Miguel County works on those plans, Bordogna hopes that the community will continue to be involved.
“I hope that this level of engagement and care will continue because that makes the community so successful,” he said. “I want to make sure to hear all people in this process.
“We’re in a time where the master plans are almost 30 years old, and much of what was envisioned has been completed or changed. It’s an exciting time to envision the next stage and future master plans.”
As he begins his new role as manager, Bordogna is looking forward to working with county staff.
“I like the goals the commissioners have for environmental sustainability,” Bordogna said. “There’s a desire for positive change. There’s no sedentary manner here.”
County positions can be renewed by annual contract, but there is no set term limit.
“We’re hoping he will be here for a long, long time,” Holstrom said.