Members of the Guadalupe City Council give a sendoff to Gary Hoving, the city’s retiring public safety director.
Members of the Guadalupe City Council gave a sendoff Tuesday to Gary Hoving, the city’s retiring public safety director. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Gary Hoving, described as “a chief among chiefs,” marked the end of his four-decade career in law enforcement on Tuesday evening during a Guadalupe City Council meeting.

Mayor John Lizalde read a proclamation and presented a plaque honoring Hoving’s commitment and dedication to the city since talking the job as public safety director overseeing the small city’s police and fire departments.

While Hoving tried to put the credit for the agencies’s successes on the team he worked with, Councilman Ariston Julian said he disagreed. 

“Some of us have been around Guadalupe for a long time, and we’ve seen chiefs come and go. Some went on their own request, but some were asked to leave,” Julian said.

“I think it takes a person of your stature and of your management skill to be able to put a team of people together to make Guadalupe a very safe place,” Julian added. “And I would even go as far to say you’re a chief among chiefs.”

Hoving’s last day on the job is Friday, and the city continues negotiating the terms of a contract with Michael Cash, the controversial chosen replacement. The City Council discussed the item in closed sesson but did not report any action afterward. 

During Tuesday night’s meeting, former Mayor Frances Romero also offered her appreciation to Hoving.

“He inherited a department that was left in shambles by the previous hire, George Mitchell,” Romero said.

Hoving arrived to find officers who were not current in their required training or qualified on weapons. 

‘I think we owe him a huge debt of gratitude, because we have a far more professional agency as a result,” she added. 

Before joining the Guadalupe staff, Hoving worked 29 years for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, reaching the rank of chief deputy.

He first started as interim chief in Guadalupe and later took the job full-time.

“I look at where the organization was when I started and how I’m leaving it now, and I’m very proud of that accomplishment. But it has nothing to do really with me. It had to do with my team,” Hoving said. “We all work together extremely well.” 

“We worked real hard together to make sure that we provided service for the community, and that goes for both the police and the fire side,” Hoving said, 

When he leaves the city, he will wrap up a law enforcement career that began in 1975, he said.

“It’s my life’s work. I’ve never done anything else. I don’t know what it would it entail, but I’m looking forward to the next chapter for sure,” he added.

After a lenghty career in law enforcement, Hoving said, he initially found some of his duties involving the Fire Department foreign before realizing it came down to managing people and objectives. 

His successes included writing grants, bringing $1.2 million in funding to the city.

Under his leadership, the Guadalupe department took over policing duties at the Santa Maria Public Airport. 

He played a key role in getting a sales tax measure passed to boost funding to city coffers.

He also co-led efforts to get a section of Highway 166 named after Guadalupe Officer Samuel “Sammy” Sanchez, who was killed when his patrol vehicle was struck by a drunken driver in 1969.

“You’ll be in my hearts forever,” Hoving said. “I love this community. The people here have supported me. I’m a Guadalupean by insertion, I guess.”

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.