COSTA MESA — After nearly eight years of service, the city's recreation manager will leave her job Aug. 12 to take a position with the city of Irvine.
Jana Ransom, 57, will serve as Irvine's community services manager, overseeing the animal shelter and athletic programs.
"I'm looking forward to that," she said. "The animal care shelter will be a tremendous opportunity to do something new, different and exciting."
Ransom said she will deeply miss Costa Mesa's City Hall employees.
"We all are like a family, and this city in particular, the employees are very close," she said. "Most of us working in this building see each other each day and over the years, you form deep friendships."
The news of her departure was first reported on a local news blog, A Bubbling Cauldron.
For Ransom, working in Costa Mesa had its ups and downs, especially during the last few years of budget reductions.
"I wouldn't say that everything has been icing and ice cream for sure," she said. "There's been some difficult times, the budget has been difficult, and the politics has been difficult at times.
"But overall, there are people here who care about Costa Mesa. I wouldn't say I've been unhappy at all. I've been challenged. I think that it's challenging for all city employees."
During her time at the city, Ransom said she put together a strong team for the Costa Mesa Recreation Department and having to let go of some of her employees was difficult.
The department's budget was reduced 30%.
"During the month of June, I spent my time going around to my staff telling them I have to cut them out," she said. "That was probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my career, to tell people that I hired that they no longer have jobs come July 1; that was gut-wrenching."
But seeing the community come together to help the city retain the threatened Recreation on Campus for Kids after School (ROCKS) program is an example of what Costa Mesa is all about, Ransom said.
"Some really good things come at adverse situations," she said. "I've been impressed."
Lisa McPherson, Costa Mesa recreation supervisor, is the No. 2 recreation official and will oversee the department until a decision on Ransom's replacement is made, said Steve Mandoki, Costa Mesa director of administrative services.
City Manager Allan Roeder said he believes the department is in need of a leader, especially at a time when it has already lost many of its employees.
"Actually, I have given department director Steve Mandoki a limited amount of time for him to sit down with the staff and to discuss the vacancy and give his recommendation," Roeder said. "I'm willing and certainly supportive of keeping an open mind. I think it's important to have a strong leadership in that department."
A decision on who will temporarily or permanently serve in Ransom's position is likely to be made before her departure, Mandoki said.