After 4 years on the job, Margaret "Peggy" Gordon is retiring as director of the Colorado Lottery.
Gordon, who formally made the announcement on Tuesday, said her final day on the job will be June 30, the last day of the state's fiscal year.
When she gets up on July 1, the first thing she plans to do is buy a Lottery ticket, which she's barred from doing as an employee.
"The average length of stay for a Lottery director is 18 months, and I'm at 4 years, so I think that's pretty good," she said. "I think we've done a spectacular job. What we've accomplished in terms of our proceeds and revenue going back to open space and parks. It's just a wonderful part of who we are."
Though Gordon deserves credit for helping to boost the Lottery's sales during her tenure - to $489.5 million last year from about $408.95 million in 2004 - she often came under fire because she didn't live in Pueblo, where the Lottery is based. Gordon, who lives in Denver, said that while she spent a lot of time in Pueblo, it wasn't necessary for her to live there and still do the job.
Southern Colorado lawmakers, however, disagreed.
"It's certainly important to the people of Pueblo," said Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West. "I believe we will see people from the headquarters in Pueblo apply for the job as director. I'm optimistic that Gov. (Bill) Ritter and director Roxy Huber of the Department of Revenue will see fit that whomever takes the job will do the main part of the job from its headquarters."
Gordon took the reins of the Lottery at a time of turmoil.
Its previous director, Mark Zamarripa, resigned the position hours before he was to meet with then Revenue director M. Michael Cooke to explain expenses for a trip to New Orleans.
That resignation came on the heels of a state audit that found Lottery employees failed to get approval before traveling out of state, and were oftentimes reimbursed by companies doing business with the Lottery.
Senate President Pro Tem Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, said he was pleased that the city could soon see a Lottery director who lives in town.
"This gives us an opportunity to try to get somebody from Pueblo," Tapia said. "I'm going to talk to the governor's office and make sure we get people to apply, particularly if they reside in Pueblo and maybe we can get that position back."
Tapia said he plans to have that talk with Ritter later today at a meeting the two had previously scheduled.
Despite criticism about where she lived, lawmakers acknowledged that Gordon had managed to increase Lottery sales and add 200 more retailers to its network. As a result, Gordon predicted the Lottery would break $500 million this year.
"I probably stayed a year longer than I was planning originally," she said. "We had a spectacular year and it was only getting better, and that was part of my decision to stick around a little bit longer. But you know the state's retirement system is a good one, and I'm looking forward to taking a break."
Now that she's leaving, she joked that she still isn't planning to move to Pueblo. Instead, she's planning a two-month trip to South Africa just because she's always wanted to go there.
Before joining the Lottery, Gordon worked for five years as a programs administrator with the State Division of Criminal Justice's Office for Victims Programs. Prior to that, she held various management posts in the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office in Centennial.
She holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Colorado, and an undergraduate degree from Western Michigan University.
Gordon said she wasn't always liked in doing the job. She said no strong leader ever is, but things that needed to be done got done.
"I have strong management teams from marketing to sales to our operations folks in Pueblo," she said. "I built a strong team. I'm a strong leader and not everybody likes that. You're not always popular at times, but we saved money and we showed the state government that we can be very efficient."
She declined to name who she thought should succeed her, but said she thought whoever that is should focus on expanding sales, and locations where tickets can be purchased.
"I think we can look a bit deeper. We have more retailers who should be selling our product, and making it more convenient for our players," she said. "The airports are some locations that I've targeted. We're missing money there."