Upper Arlington's new city attorney said he intends to focus on customer service and collaboration with city staff to meet the needs of the public and City Hall.
Darren Shulman, who since June 2011 was Delaware's city attorney, was hired to succeed Jeanine Hummer July 28. He officially took the post Sept. 1.
Hummer retired Aug. 31 after 18 years as Upper Arlington's city attorney and 31 years working in that office.
In addition to better familiarizing himself with his two assistant city attorneys and two additional staff members, Shulman said, he expects to use the first two to three months on the job to learn the ropes of Upper Arlington city government and continue to meet people in the community.
The 42-year-old is in the midst of relocating his wife, Marsha, and his 1-year-old daughter, Parker, to an Upper Arlington home. He said he hopes to maintain a high level of service to what soon will be neighbors and other fellow community members.
"Upper Arlington has a reputation of having, I'll say, an 'A-plus' level of services," Shulman said. "(Residents) are paying for that. So I'm interested in figuring out how do you get them the best services for what they're paying.
"COVID-19 is a challenge, but I want to build relationships with people in the community," he said. "I have a very collaborative style. I try to work with my colleagues and my customers and find out where you're trying to go and how we can get you there."
Shulman earned a political-science degree from Northwestern University, a law degree from the University of Michigan and a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School.
Before his tenure in Delaware, he served as associate legal counsel for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, assistant prosecuting attorney for Montgomery County and as an associate for Crowell & Moring LLP in Washington, D.C.
Upper Arlington City Council selected Shulman from a pool of 20 candidates. He will be paid an annual base salary of $175,000. The city also will pay $29,540 to $47,460 in employee benefits.
"We felt strongly that conducting an extensive and methodical search process was the right course of action for this critical role at the city," council President Kip Greenhill said. "Mr. Shulman quickly rose to the top among an impressive field, standing out as a proven city attorney with strong leadership and team-building skills.
"The fact that he is already a central Ohio resident and very familiar with our community is an added bonus."
Shulman said his work in Delaware was similar to what he expects to do in Upper Arlington.
A noted exception, however, is how Upper Arlington must strategize for community development -- an area that's vital to the growth of the city's income-tax revenue base.
"Delaware has a lot of growth and development and does that through a lot of annexation," Shulman said. "Upper Arlington is landlocked. So there is a lot of redevelopment. It's taking parcels already in the city and reusing them.
"When you're developing a site, a lot of it is, 'What are developers allowed to do?' When you're redeveloping, you don't have as much space," he said. "So you're really trying to target the best use for a site."
Shulman said he "wasn't looking for a job" and was "very happy in Delaware" prior to Hummer's announcement that she would retire this summer.
He said he decided to seek the Upper Arlington post because of the city's reputation of being an "amazing place to work" and for the opportunity to be somewhat more engaged in the central Ohio region with respect to community development and diversion programming, such as the city's drug court program that enables certain drug offenders to resolve criminal cases by staying clean and obtaining ongoing, gainful employment.
"It's definitely a once-in-a-career opportunity," Shulman said. "I want to thank everyone within the community and city government who has reached out to me and made me feel welcome.
"I really feel I made the right decision and am very excited to start."