What makes a man who has worked as both a journalist and an attorney, and has served as general counsel to a governor, move to the Gunnison Valley for the next chapter in his career? Gunnison County's new deputy attorney Matthew Hoyt says his reason is simple — quality of life.
Hoyt began as the new deputy county attorney earlier this month.
While the attorney with two decades of experience says he has long been interested in law, he hasn't always pursued it. In fact, he worked for a newspaper before returning to the books seeking a law degree.
His journey has taken him back and forth from the Piedmont Plateau of the Carolinas to the Sandia and Manzano mountains of New Mexico, and eventually landed him on Colorado's Western Slope of the Continental Divide.
Hoyt was born in Norfolk, Va., but was raised in the neighboring state of North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill where he studied journalism. There, he met his future wife, Amiee.
With degree in hand, Hoyt moved to Flagstaff, Ariz., where he became a copywriter and entertainment editor for the Arizona Daily Sun. However, after a year at the paper, the legal profession beckoned.
"I've always been fascinated by the law and lawyering," Hoyt said, noting his interest began as early as high school.
Hoyt returned to UNC and married his college sweetheart during his third year of law school. Graduation soon followed, and so did another move.
"She and I really loved the Southwest … and started looking at what jobs might be available in the Four Corners states," Hoyt said.
Neither wanted to live in a big city but found Albuquerque to be the right fit. Hoyt took an internship with a large firm there, which led to full-time employment.
Hoyt's career in government began two years later — he was appointed as the deputy general counsel to Gov. Gary Johnson and eventually became general counsel. Johnson was governor from 1995-2003 and eventually ran for president in 2012 and 2016. Hoyt described the influence that Johnson had upon him.
"He had a very businesslike, cut-straight-to-the-chase mindset when it came to government," Hoyt said. "He was incredibly ethical, incredibly hard working, incredibly focused on his job as governor. He was a joy to work for."
Hoyt continued in government service for two more years working for the New Mexico State Land Office under the state's Commissioner for Public Lands, then returned to private practice.
As an attorney, Hoyt has handled cases ranging from commercial litigation to media law and class action lawsuits. While he has deep experience in oil and gas as well as environmental law, he concedes he will be learning a new state with different regulations. But, Hoyt said, he's up to the challenge.
“I've been in a lot of positions where you jump deep into the pool and you stay there," he said. "I consider it a challenge, but a healthy challenge — one I'm looking forward to."
The Hoyts’ draw to Gunnison County goes far beyond the newfound career opportunity. The couple enjoys the outdoors. Both are avid climbers, hikers and mountain bikers. The Hoyts also have a 10-year-old son, Flint, who is a fourth-grade student at Crested Butte Community School and extremely active in skiing and biking.
"We have for a long time wanted to relocate to Colorado," said Hoyt. "We were not sure when we wanted to do that but then we saw this position … and my wife said that seems like a wonderful place to live."
In addition to recreational opportunities, the Hoyts sought schools which would benefit Flint — he has autistic spectrum disorder. Hoyt said the opportunities in the Gunnison Valley add to all of his family members' quality of life.
"Everyone we've met is so friendly and so wonderful," Hoyt said. "It's a dream location for us, and it seems like it's going to be a dream job for me."
(Chris Rourke can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or at firstname.lastname@example.org)