Last year, Cleveland Heights resident Al Snodgrass was lying in the ER with COVID-19. He had lost his brother just months prior, and thought this could be the end of his life. During his recovery, he saw the harrowing experience as a new opportunity.
“I realized this could be the start of a new path,” he says.
Already active in local politics – he serves on the board of Cleveland Heights Democrats and Stonewall Democrats, among other organizations, and works full time for Akron-based community development corporation EANDC – Snodgrass decided that, rather than work on another candidate’s political campaign this year, he would pursue his dream and launch his own, for Cleveland Heights City Council.
Cleveland Heights is gearing up for a historic election this November, when voters will choose four of seven city council members in addition to the city’s first elected mayor. For the 25-year-old Snodgrass, the timing was just right.
The Buckeye Flame spoke with Al Snodgrass – recently endorsed by the Victory Fund – about his bid for Cleveland Heights City Council and his vision for the future of his community.
What inspired you to run for office now?
Working on campaigns, you hear a lot, Wait your turn. After the last year, I realized I’m ready to serve. I’ve been working on campaigns and serving on committees in the community for years. This year, four of our seven council seats [in Cleveland Heights]are up for election, and we are voting for mayor for the first time. What better opportunity than to run right now?
How is your campaign being received in the community so far?
People are excited. When I talk to residents, I often hear they are fed up with the same old business at city hall, the same people making decisions. They’re seeking new officials who are passionate about their community, who are ready to hit the ground running, who will not stall legislation just because, and who have a vision and a desire to collaborate and move our city forward. The biggest indicator that the city is ready for change was the passage of the change in form of government, which residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of in 2019. I think that [desire for change]is why folks in the community have been receiving my campaign so well.
Tell us about your vision for Cleveland Heights and how you will pursue it, policy-wise.
Gauging the impact of COVID-19 on our community will be top priority – determining how many businesses, residents, jobs, we’ve lost or gained over the course of the pandemic, and what we need to do to ensure the fastest possible recovery. The second priority is to look at ways to retain and attract new residents and businesses for our community – such as by making sure our housing stock is up to date and finding ways to lower property taxes. Lastly, working with our [community development corporations]to help deploy more resources into the community.
My vision for Cleveland Heights is to make it a place that is truly welcome to all. A big part of that is transportation. We want to make it easier for folks to visit and shop, so revamping parking accommodations and implementing smart-city technologies like smart parking meters are some of the ways we can help stimulate activity in the community.
Why should people come out and vote?
The most valuable right we have as Americans is to make our voices heard through the vote. People should come out to vote, specifically in Cleveland Heights, because we have a rare opportunity in November. We will be electing our first-ever mayor, plus a majority of seats on the council. This election will determine whether the city moves forward or keeps going at the same slow pace it’s been. It’s a historic moment.
What would it mean to you, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, to be elected to this role?
It would be a huge honor. I’m gay, biracial, and on the younger side for this office. We want to normalize seeing candidates from different backgrounds in influential positions like city council. But I want people to vote for me because I’m passionate and willing to roll up my sleeves to get the job done, not because of my identity.
- Learn more about Al Snodgrass and his bid for Cleveland Heights City Council by visiting his website or Facebook page.
- Check ohvotes.org to make sure you are registered to vote and update your voter registration address.
- After checking your voter registration, check out Cleveland VOTES’ 2021 #Commit2CLE Toolkit to learn HOW to ACTivate. There you will find a series of programs, resources, and tools partners use to ACTivate their constituents and help get others to vote.
- For nonprofit organizations servicing the Greater Cleveland area, check out the Equitable Civic Engagement Fund, a grant opportunity to help educate, connect and empower voting age residents in the Greater Cleveland area.