As a deputy director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, Ferzan Ahmed instructed his staff to give his cellphone number out to anyone who requested it.

As a deputy director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, Ferzan Ahmed instructed his staff to give his cellphone number out to anyone who requested it.

The Powell resident said he wants to bring the same spirit of openness to his new role as Delaware County's administrator.

"If I could put up a sign on my house that says "Your administrator lives here," I would," he said, noting such a structure probably wouldn't make it through the city's zoning process.

Delaware County commissioners announced Friday, March 18, that Ahmed will assume his new role April 11. Ahmed has worked at ODOT for more than two decades and began serving as the deputy director of District 6 in 2011.

District 6 includes Delaware, Franklin and six other central Ohio counties.

Commissioner Gary Merrell said he and his colleagues were impressed by Ahmed's professionalism, skills and familiarity with Delaware County.

"He's very well-respected throughout the community by all those who come in contact with him," he said. "We really feel like this is a great hire."

Ahmed will succeed Tim Hansley, who retired in mid-January. He was not among the 30 candidates who initially applied to replace the former administrator.

The commissioners announced four semifinalists in February, then two finalists later that month, but never made a hire from the group of 30.

After the job was posted for a second time, Ahmed said he consulted with trusted friends and colleagues about whether they thought he would be a good candidate.

"From all the feedback I got, I thought that this would be a really good, logical next step for me in this career," he said.

Ahmed said he had considered applying for city or county administrator posts before, but this was the first he "really pursued."

The administrator oversees the day-to-day operations of the county and works closely with the elected board of commissioners. Ahmed said his high opinions of Merrell and his colleagues -- commissioners Jeff Benton and Barb Lewis -- made his decision to pursue the job easier.

"It's very important that you get along with that board, and these three people are just top-notch people," he said. "I like them a lot and I respect them a lot."

A native of Pakistan, Ahmed came to the United States in the late 1980s to study electrical engineering at Kansas State University. Starting as an engineer-in-training in 1992 at ODOT, he eventually oversaw 4,800 lane miles of roadway, 1,557 bridges and hundreds of employees in the agency's District 6.

Ahmed said he's looking forward to continuing work on a number of projects on which he collaborated with county officials as an official at ODOT.

"I'm really excited about the Sawmill Parkway extension for a variety of reasons, one of them being it will cut down on my commute by five minutes," he said with a laugh.

The extension of Sawmill Parkway from its current terminus at Hyatts Road in Liberty Township north into the city of Delaware should be completed in the fall.

Ahmed said he's also excited about working with Delaware County Engineer Chris Bauserman to make a potential new interchange off Interstate 71 at Big Walnut Road a reality.

@TWGallick