Table of Contents
Pueblo Mayor Nick Gradisar has appointed a new city attorney after he asked the former head of the city’s legal department to resign in April.
Pending confirmation from Pueblo City Council next week, George Hypolite will lead the city attorney’s office starting Aug. 15, the city announced Wednesday in a press release.
Hypolite is leaving his job within the attorney general’s office working on transportation law and has also worked as an attorney with the city of Denver.
But he also has another career on his resume — defensive tackle in the National Football League.
Why Hypolite wanted to get into practicing law
Hypolite told the Chieftain he’s wanted to be an attorney since he was 4 or 5 years old. His grandma was a fan of legal dramas and told him that lawyers help people.
His third-grade teacher Mrs. Chambers had her students write letters to their future selves that their parents would give them when they graduated high school. His letter said he would want to be a father, pro athlete and attorney — and he’s been able to accomplish all of those goals.
Hypolite said he started playing football late in high school and that his success in the sport was “happenstance.” He went on to play at the University of Colorado where he was an all-conference athlete in the Big 12.
He was signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers in 2009 but was cut from both teams’ practice squads.
Hypolite went to law school at the University of San Diego School of Law and moved back to Colorado, where he went into private practice before working for governmental agencies around Denver.
How Hypolite says he’ll approach the job in Pueblo
Hypolite said that through his Jesuit education growing up, he learned the value of serving others and that’s what he wants to do in Pueblo.
He said throughout his legal career he’s been looking for a chance to be at the helm of a municipal law department.
“As I look at where Pueblo is, where Pueblo likely is going and where it’s going to be, I think I have a skill set that’ll allow me to serve the people of Pueblo through their elected officials in a kind of way that’s really going to make a difference,” Hypolite said.
Some city councilors had a testy relationship with the former city attorney, Dan Kogovsek. Hypolite said he will serve the mayor, elected officials and the city of Pueblo to the best of his ability.
Hypolite said he’s ultimately planning on serving the citizens of Pueblo, but will respect officials selected in the representative democracy.
“What I always try to keep in mind is the ultimate constituency is the people, and that each of the elected representatives in front of me represent some portion of that constituency,” Hypolite said. “What that means to me is that their opinion has value and it’s something that I have to respect and I have to honor.”
He said that he is an “honest broker,” shares the facts with people without sugarcoating, and will approach his job “without ego.”
“Ultimately, to me, what the elected representatives of the people decide to do is not my concern. My concern is to make sure they have all of the information that they need to make that decision in the most lawful, prudent and effective way they can,” Hypolite said.
Haley Sue Robinson, a spokesperson for the city, said interim city attorney Robert “Bob” Jagger also was a finalist for the position but will remain with the city as its deputy city attorney.
City council approved funding last month — up to $120,000 from the unappropriated balance of the general fund — for the law department to retain special counsel on an “as needed basis,” according to the ordinance.
Jagger told city council in early July that the office had recently hired two new attorneys but they did not have extensive backgrounds in municipal issues and would need to be trained.
Hypolite emphasized that he still hasn’t officially started yet, but said he would work to make sure that the existing attorneys in the office have the support and resources they need. He also said that he would work with law schools in Colorado and around the country to establish connections so people know that Pueblo is a desirable place to practice law.
Anna Lynn Winfrey covers politics for the Pueblo Chieftain. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @annalynnfrey. Please support local news at subscribe.chieftain.com.
This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Pueblo’s new city attorney George Hypolite is former CU football star