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Dan Ralley

Dan Ralley


Name:  Dan Ralley

Position:  Assistant City Manager

Organization:  City of Hilliard

Date Appointed to the Board: July 2021

I’ve always had an affinity for OCMA because the association has helped me connect with so many people in local government across Ohio.   At regional meetings, and at OCMA’s Annual Conference, I have often found the conversations that I have had with collogues to be incredibly valuable.  Not only have I learned a lot from these conversations, but relationships that I have made have been valuable personally, and at times cathartic, in what can be a challenging profession.     

As a member of the OCMA Board my goal was always to enlarge and broaden membership in the association, and position OCMA to be the preeminent voice for professionals working in local government in Ohio.  I’ve worked hard to improve OCMA’s website and improve how the Association’s membership is managed.   Coming out of COVID, OCMA’s membership is larger than it ever has been, and I am proud that much of this growth has occurred as a result of people in new and different types of positions joining OCMA.  We also have a much better geographic spread of members across Ohio compared to just a few years ago.     

I was a teenager when I helped a neighbor clean out her basement on several occasions when it flooded after a heavy rain.   It was a lightbulb moment for me when I learned that the flooding had been caused by a downstream sewer that was too small.   I had never really thought about the impact that this type of largely hidden infrastructure could have on individuals and their daily lives.      

Several years later, after working at the Ohio Statehouse during summers as a page, and with a general interest in government, I was fortunate enough to become an intern for the City of Worthington.  David Elder and Paul Feldman, the City Manager and Assistant City Manager at the time, were instrumental in encouraging me to see the value in local government service. 

My decision to work in local government was the result of this exposure in Worthington.  Being able to actually see the direct connection between the work that we do in local government and the impact that it can have on residents is extremely fulfilling and meaningful to me.      

The chance to have a positive, tangible impact on people’s lives.   My sense is that there are a lot of jobs in this world where people struggle to find meaning in the work that they do.   Working in local government inherently has a sense of meaning because you can tangibly see the results of projects that you have been working on, and over time gain a sense of the lasting impact these projects have had on the broader community.  

I feel very fortunate to have been a part of a lot of different projects that have been meaningful professionally because of the lasting impact they have had on the communities where I have worked.   In Cardington I was able to secure grants and help administer waterline replacement projects that significantly improved the quality and reliability of the water that people drank on a daily basis.  Its hard to overstate how impactful this can be on a community. We also constructed the Village’s first playground, a site that I always visit when I travel back thru the area.  In Petoskey I helped to purchase a rail corridor from that now is a beautiful linear park thru the downtown area.   Its nice to know that I was a small part of that project.   And here in Central Ohio I have been a part of two different community center projects, in two different municipalities at different stages of planning and development, that will have a lasting impact on each community.    

The general political climate, which is trickling down to the local level, certainly presents challenges.  We are now asked to work on projects and issues at the local level that historically would not have been part of local government, and the standards of personal behavior have changed because of the general political atmosphere.  

The other big-picture challenge is the impact that social media has had on local government.  Its easier for people to feel as though they have expertise when they are so easily able to look up information, and partially as a result, its harder to form a consensus.      

Its critical that leaders in local government are professionals that set a model for ethical decision making.  Its important that not just the decisions that are made, but the process for reaching those decisions is inclusive and reflective of a diverse set of viewpoints within the community.  At the end of the day, local government professionals have to be responsive to elected officials and members of the community, and in order to accomplish that effectively there has to be a base level of trust that local government professionals have to uphold.        

Obviously, one of the underlying narratives in Ohio is about shifts in population.   Population growth statewide is minimal, but there is a shift in population toward major metropolitan areas across Ohio.   The impact that this is having on employment, housing and infrastructure in less populated portions of Ohio is a major challenge.

In Ohio cities I think this shift in population has generally led to municipalities needing to provide more services, at a higher level, and to a larger group of residents.   The implicit demand to create unique spaces and experiences for residents in downtown areas and throughout communities is making Ohio cities more interesting and vibrant than ever before.