Taking our city to new heights

Michael Dylan Brennan:
A Mayor We Can Trust

I have been Mayor of the City since 2018.

I come from a family of teachers, laborers, and salesmen. My dad was a science teacher and was president of his union. My mom retired from a New York corporate investigations firm, and spends her free time spoiling her favorite grandson. My dad’s parents were factory workers, while my mom’s parents were a salesman and a secretary. My stepmom and my sister are former public school teachers. And I went to law school.

I watched my mom’s political awakening as a child. In a year’s time, she went from being president of our church’s Altar Rosary Society to co-founder and president of the local NOW chapter. After my parents divorced, we moved from Geneva to Youngstown, when that city was in continuing decline following the collapse of the steel industry.

I skipped school to go to a political rally, to see Dick Celeste, Ted Kennedy, Fritz Mondale, and yes, Jim Traficant. My view of the affluent eighties was from the south side of Youngstown, the kind of place that prosperous times no longer reached.

My mother taught me to see the good in people, to seek justice, to seek peace. My grandfather taught me how to pray. My dad taught me about reason and philosophy. My uncle taught me gay people are just like everyone else. My other uncle taught me how to run a business. Living in a declining steel city and rural Ashtabula taught me about poverty, and race and class, and the need for equity. Living in a single parent household taught me many of the challenges that women and struggling families face.

I first became interested in city politics in another Ohio college town, Bowling Green. When I was in school there, the city used a ward system for city council, and packed the university and the students into a single ward holding nearly half the city’s population. We started a successful fight over voting rights that went on for years, long after I graduated.

At law school I made law review, and I interned first for Congressman Eric Fingerhut and later, at the Department of Justice. I had lofty ideas about changing the world. Student loans sent my professional career in a more practical direction. I clerked for Judge Kathleen Ann Sutula at the Court of Common Pleas. I worked at a boutique law firm where we did great work on challenging cases for people who really needed the help.

Along the way, I lived around greater Cleveland, and lived in University Heights from 1998 to 2000, and then from 2005 to present. I met my wife Gina through a mutual friend who was in a writing group with her. We married in 2007, and made our home here.

When the economy crashed in 2008, Gina had gone back to school. I made the perilous jump of opening my own law practice. Times were tough, and we nearly lost our home. But through hard work and some luck, we made it through. In my law practice I took cases I believed in, cases involving consumer protection, employment discrimination, and animal rights. Sometimes the odds were long, but the fight was always worthy. Gina sings, writes, and runs her own pet sitting business.

I grew interested in city politics out of a desire to give back, to become more involved and engaged in our community. I was part of the citizens’ effort to build Walter Stinson Community Park. I joined the board of FutureHeights, our grassroots community organization that promotes Cleveland Heights and University Heights. When President Obama said after the 2016 elections, “If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself,” I felt like he was talking right to me. Politics affects us whether we participate or not.

Four years ago, my sense of community and desire to make the world a better place drove me to run for mayor. On Election Day 2017, the citizens of University Heights entrusted and honored me by choosing me to be their Mayor. Since then, I have been hard at work addressing the challenges facing our city. With those challenges we have taken opportunities and reached new heights, making our city a better place and ensuring a better future for us all. The pandemic shifted our focus to public safety and survival. With the worst of it hopefully behind us, we are back at work making the City of Beautiful Homes so much more than a collection of beautiful homes. Our community has never been stronger.

We have only just begun.

Learn more about Mayor Brennan’s professional qualifications. Download his curriculum vitae.