Ralley will lead development efforts as as Hilliard's first assistant city manager

A. Kevin Corvo
ThisWeek group

Hilliard Assistant City Manager Dan Ralley officially started his new job Jan. 19, but before that time came, he was learning the ins and outs of the community.

He said that approach would be critical to accomplishing his early goals and mission.

Ralley, who has roots in Upper Arlington and Worthington, has participated in several administrative conferences since his hiring was announced Nov. 27, City Manager Michelle Crandall said.

Dan Ralley is assistant city manager for Hilliard.

Ralley, 46, joins Crandall as the first person to serve in his respective post.

Hilliard voters in November 2018 voted to amend the city charter to replace the elected "strong mayor" form of government with a council-selected city-manager model.

Crandall, who had been the assistant city manager of Dublin, was chosen as city manager in October 2019 and began serving in January 2020.

“(Crandall) will be compelling to work with,” said Ralley, adding that his early focus would be on becoming familiar with Hilliard’s ongoing projects.

“It will kind of be like jumping onto a moving train," he said. “I am excited with the opportunity to be Hilliard’s first assistant city manager and the continuing the support of the city manager form of government that Hilliard transitioned to a year ago."

Ralley has experience as an assistant city manager, serving in that capacity most recently for Upper Arlington, where he lives.

In Hilliard, Ralley will serve as director of the community-development department, created in 2020 as part of a reorganization of departments in the administration.

The community-development department includes the divisions of transportation and mobility, building standards and engineering, and those staff members report to Ralley.

Crandall said Hilliard is “fortunate” to have Ralley on staff, and she determined last year that such a position was needed in the administration.

"During my first year as city manager, I spent a great deal of time assessing the major priorities for the city and what organizational restructuring would be needed to ensure we are positioned to achieve those goals,” Crandall said. “It was apparent (we) would benefit from having a community-development department that focused on meeting our crucial planning, engineering, building and transportation priorities.

"I believe Ralley’s background makes him extremely well-suited to lead these efforts in the coming years as we continue to grow and as we develop and implement an updated community plan."

Ralley said his early missions include working with the city administration to choose a firm that will help guide the city with updating its comprehensive plan and with establishing a new process for issuing building, occupancy, and other kinds of permits.

Apart from such proscribed duties and goals, the assistant city manager also handles “all other duties as assigned,” Ralley said.

Although Ralley has a law degree, he said, public service always has been his calling.

Ralley started as an intern for the city of Worthington after his graduation from Worthington High School in 1991.

While there, he was involved in negotiating telecommunications contracts and learned that having law experience as an asset.

“(But) I never wanted to ‘practice’ law," he said. "My love is public service.”

However, Ralley said, he took advantage of the opportunity while working in the information-technology industry to earn a juris doctor degree from Syracuse University in 2004.

He also has a master’s degree in public administration from Syracuse and a bachelor’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago.

Ralley had served as Upper Arlington’s assistant city manager since July 2014 and concurrently served as the city's director of community development from 2014 to 2019.

He was city manager of Petoskey, Michigan, from 2009 to 2014, and village administrator for Cardington from 2004 to 2009.

Ninety-eight candidates applied for the job of assistant city manager, said David Ball, director of communications for Hilliard.

One withdrew, and six were interviewed for the position, he said.

Ralley's starting salary as assistant city manager will be $146,000, with his benefits valued at $79,909, according to Ball.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo