Hampden town manager takes job in Southwest Harbor

Hampden Town Manager Susan Lessard speaks during a March 7, 2011, town council meeting regarding the town's comprehensive plan.
Hampden Town Manager Susan Lessard speaks during a March 7, 2011, town council meeting regarding the town's comprehensive plan. Buy Photo
Posted Jan. 05, 2012, at 5:53 p.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — If outgoing Hampden Town Manager Susan Lessard thought her monthly gas bill for her car was high before, she hasn’t seen anything yet.

Lessard, Hampden’s town manager of 11 years who also serves as chairwoman of the Maine Board of Environmental Protection, spent her first day on the job as the town of Southwest Harbor’s new finance director on Wednesday.

“It’s already been quite a week,” Lessard said while driving back to Hampden from Augusta on Thursday afternoon. “What’s today again?”

Her confusion was understandable given her schedule this week.

Lessard, who announced in August that she planned to resign as town manager, worked a full day in Hampden on Tuesday before attending an evening council meeting. On Wednesday morning she drove to Southwest Harbor for the first day of her new job and then drove back to Hampden that night. After checking into the Hampden town office early Thursday morning, she drove to Augusta to chair a BEP meeting and then drove back to Hampden on Thursday afternoon. Friday morning, she’ll be back in Southwest Harbor for day No. 2 at her new job.

“Next week should be much more manageable,” said Lessard, who has agreed to work two days — Mondays and Tuesdays — a week through January as Hampden picks her replacement.

Hampden Mayor Janet Hughes confirmed Thursday that the list of town manager finalists is down to three and the final candidate will be interviewed in the next few days.

“We have one more finalist to interview and should have things wrapped up next week with a final decision by the end of January,” Hughes said.

In the meantime, there aren’t enough hours in the day for Lessard, a 55-year-old mother of two married sons and grandmother of two boys and two girls, all living in the Ellsworth area.

It was proximity both to family and her boyfriend of five years, among other factors, that made the Southwest Harbor job appealing.

“What made it a good fit for me is location, and it also fits into my desire to make life changes in regard to both work and personal ways,” Lessard said. “It allows me to live in a community where my significant other lives, and work-wise it allows me to do many of the things working within a community that I really enjoy, like fiscal management, interaction with the public and helping people, accounting and research.”

Lessard began her public service career in 1982 as Searsport’s town clerk. In 1986, she became Livermore Falls’ town manager, and worked for the Maine Tomorrow consulting firm from 1988 to 1991. She returned to the public sector in 1991 as town manager of Fayette and spent seven years as the town manager for Vinalhaven.

“I was born and raised in Belfast and Southwest Harbor has many of the same seasonal, coastal and fishing components,” she said.

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