ELLSWORTH — Janna Richards, planning director for Bar Harbor, is set to leave that post and begin work as economic development director for Ellsworth Nov. 1.
Richards will succeed Micki Sumpter, who retired this month. Sumpter will work with the city on a part-time basis through June 2019 to assist with the transition.
Richards was named planning director for Bar Harbor, with a $66,373 salary, in April of this year. She succeeded Robert Osborne, who left the post in September 2017.
She be paid $63,000 a year in her new role in Ellsworth.
Richards served as town planner in Orono and assistant city planner in Ellsworth for two years.
Richards also has worked at Island Heritage Trust as stewardship director and for Boston-based consulting firm Dewberry as a hazard-mitigation planner and geospatial analyst.
Richards said she is excited to continue the work she did as assistant city planner, including data analysis and updating the economic development website “so it would be easier for potential businesses to understand what the city has to offer.”
“I’ll have a lot more time to delve into it and be a little bit more creative,” Richards said.
She added that she is looking forward to promoting “smart growth and sustainable development,” including walkability.
“Those are areas where I have expertise and a lot of passion,” Richards said.
“I love Ellsworth. I feel like I have a lot of unfinished business there. I see stuff that I worked on … coming to fruition. It’s really exciting to see all that and to know that I helped make that change.”
Richards acknowledged that the change would be a loss to Bar Harbor and said she will miss her colleagues at Bar Harbor Town Hall.
“I really felt like I was making a difference,” Richards said. “They’re in a time right now where they have a lot going on where a planner is really an instrumental part of those issues. I didn’t move the needle that far, but I felt like it was starting to tick.”
Much of the Rhode Island native’s work has centered on conservation. Richards holds a master’s degree from Tufts University’s Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, where her thesis focused on large landscape conservation practices in the Penobscot watershed region. Richards also was part of a Tufts team that investigated historical uses of a large saltwater marsh in Massachusetts.
She also holds a BA from Syracuse University in geography and policy studies.
Despite her career in the planning world, Richards said she sees planning and economic development as entwined.
“The problem-solving is fairly similar,” Richards said. “I enjoy helping citizens — whether it’s through a planning process or through bringing businesses to town … People want to live in a vibrant community and there are certain elements that create a vibrant community. It’s all tied together. You really can’t have one without the other.”
Richards’ appointment is slated for a vote by the Ellsworth City Council on Oct. 15.