Long-time local attorney Darrell L. Heckman has been appointed acting law director for the city of Urbana, Mayor Bill Bean confirmed during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Heckman, who has been practicing law over four decades and served two terms as county prosecutor from 1989 to 1997, is no stranger to city laws and local government operations, having been on the Urbana Charter Commission, the Urbana Board of Zoning Appeals and the Urbana Charter Review Commission.
By accepting the position of city law director, Heckman revives – after a 40-year hiatus – a role he’s held previously.
“I was law director in 1977, so I think I’m the Grover Cleveland of all time,” Heckman said, comparing his four-decade break from being law director to President Cleveland’s four-year break between his two terms as U.S. president.
Bean said he reached out to Heckman following the dismissal of Breanne Parcels, former city law director, on Feb. 27. Bean said Heckman “graciously” accepted to help his city on an interim basis through the end of the year or until a full-time replacement is found.
“We needed someone to oversee our ordinances, resolutions and contracts,” Bean said. “We will keep him busy.”
Heckman will be paid $1,500 per month as acting law director.
Bean added the plan is to find a permanent, long-term law director.
Heckman, a practicing attorney with an office in downtown Urbana, lives in the city with his wife, Nancy. The couple have three adult children.
“I’m looking forward to helping the city out,” Heckman said.
While in the past the city law director has also served as municipal court prosecutor, that’s no longer the case, Bean said.
He added the dual position tended to be a lopsided one as “75 to 80 percent” of the job was spent dealing with prosecution work, leaving little time to invest to the law director role.
For this reason, Bean said, the city hired Jared Chamberlain in January 2016 as assistant municipal prosecutor to provide the law director with more time to devote to city-related legislation and contracts.
Following Parcels’ dismissal, Chamberlain, who is paid a yearly salary of $31,200 as assistant municipal prosecutor, has handled and will continue handling the prosecuting duties for the municipal court, Bean confirmed Wednesday.