Haines Borough planning and zoning technician Tracy Cui resigned this week to take a planning job in Sammamish, Wash.

Cui’s last day with the borough is July 4, said interim manager Brad Ryan.

Cui has been with the borough since October 2012. She said in an interview this week that she told clerk Julie Cozzi during her job interview that her goal was to stay in the position for 3-5 years.

“I want to be a senior planner. I think it’s time to move on to the next step,” Cui said.

Cui said her work in Haines has given her a “solid planning foundation” to build on.

“I was pretty much fresh out of graduate school and didn’t have much planning experience before I came here. I learned a lot here,” she said. “This is a small community, (so) you have to learn pretty much everything.”

Cui’s planned first day on the job in Sammamish is July 18. She said her job will be more focused on working with the city’s planning commission and developing recommendations about permits and variances.

Cui said she was grateful to the borough, which agreed to sponsor her work visa when she came to Haines in 2012. At the time, Cui was a Chinese national without U.S. citizenship.

“Not many employers want to do that, because it costs them more money and time,” she said.

Cui joined the Army Reserves in November, and after five months of boot camp, graduated as an E4 specialist. One of the reasons Cui chose to enter the Army Reserves was to obtain her citizenship, which she did in March.

“I still haven’t decided which unit I want to transfer to. There are two options in Washington. It won’t be a problem,” she said.

Planning commission chair Rob Goldberg said Cui was the most competent person to hold the municipality’s planning position. Cui held a master’s degree in planning at the time of her hire and recently passed a test to receive a prestigious national certification, he said.

“I think she has learned all that she can learn here,” Goldberg said.

Cui also faced ethnic prejudice in Haines, Goldberg said. “There was one incident when somebody who was fined threatened to have her deported. That was fun… She’s tough and I think she showed that with her military training. She doesn’t back down.”

Most planners don’t also have to enforce planning law like the job requires in Haines, he said. “She had to go check on reported violations and tell people when they were breaking the law. A lot of people don’t react well to that, especially when they’re getting a fine.”

Goldberg said the planning job had been vacant nine months when Cui was hired. “That’s hard on the staff. I hope we can find someone soon.”