David Cole, Ellsworth’s city manager since 2015, has announced that he plans to retire.

Dale Hamilton, chairman of the Ellsworth City Council, said Tuesday in a statement that Cole told the city council of his plans on Monday.

Hamilton said Tuesday that the council and Cole have not worked out when Cole’s last day on the job might be.

The council is working to develop a search process for finding a new city manager and hopes to start that search “as soon as possible,” Hamilton said. The council is prepared to implement an interim management plan depending on the availability of whomever is hired to become Ellsworth’s new city manager.

Cole came to Ellsworth with experience in state government and regional economic development. He served as commissioner of the state Department of Transportation from 2003 to 2011, and prior to that as president and CEO of Eastern Maine Development Corporation. He became Ellsworth’s interim manager in early 2015, and was hired to be the city’s full-time manager in the summer of 2015.

Cole said Tuesday he is not sure when his last day will be, but that he is willing to help by consulting with the city until a new city manager is hired and starts work.

Cole, a Brewer resident, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and his upcoming 66th birthday in December helped him decide it was time to step down. He will spend more time with his family, he said, but otherwise does not have any immediate plans.

“I want to do what I can to transition out” of the city’s manager’s post, he said.

Hamilton said that he expects the process of hiring a new city manager to take several months, and that it could take some additional time after that for the new city manager to start work.

During his time as manager, Cole has overseen the city’s role in the development of new housing, the move of much of The Jackson Laboratory’s mouse breeding operation from Bar Harbor to the former Lowe’s site in Ellsworth, and the addition of local walking trails, all while keeping the city’s tax rate fairly flat, Hamilton said.

“He’s really done a fabulous job with the city,” he said.

Councilor Marc Blanchette, who served as the council chairman prior to Hamilton, also praised the job Cole has done over the past five years.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a person of his caliber at the helm,” Blanchette said.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....