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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

President of Cuyahoga County Young Dems Seeking Brady's Vacant Seat on Council

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2021 at 1:08 PM

click to enlarge COURTESY BRENDAN HEIL
  • Courtesy Brendan Heil

Cleveland lawyer Brendan Heil, 33, is seeking the seat lately vacated by Dan Brady on Cuyahoga County Council.

With Brady's departure, District 3 is for the moment without a representative. That district includes much of Cleveland's west side and the suburbs of Brooklyn and Linndale. Cuyahoga County Democratic Party precinct committee members in the district will vote on Brady's replacement Saturday, January 16, in accordance with their bylaws. Heil told Scene in a phone conversation last week that there won't be a candidate who can match his level of "passion and commitment." 

Heil is an alumnus of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, the President of the Cuyahoga County Young Democrats and the Democratic Party Ward Leader in Cleveland's Ward 15. He said his reasons for running are straightforward.

"This is home," he said. "This is where I grew up. The community here is so important to me, which is why I want to re-prioritize where the county's focus is. For the past 10 years, the county has prioritized megaprojects that don't necessarily affect the day-to-day lives of residents. I want to help people in areas that do."

In a letter to precinct committee members, Heil signaled that he wants to put healthcare front and center as the county continues to grapple with Covid-19 and a chaotic rollout of the vaccine.

"My central focus will be ensuring that every member of our community has the opportunity to meet their potential," he wrote. "During this pandemic, that focus means guaranteeing access to healthcare as a basic human right and protecting our critical services."

Beyond that, he told Scene that workforce development, education and infrastructure were all key issues for him. He said he was energized to take a serious look at transit funding and find creative ways to increase local contributions in order to ensure that the RTA remains an asset for the region, particularly for low-income riders for whom regular, on-time transit service is a necessary lifeline. 

When asked about the county jail scandal and council's oversight role, Heil said that if it weren't for the pandemic, the jail would be his first focus.

"It's a problem that needs to be solved," he said. "Council needs to work with judges and the administration to craft workable policies there." Among them: making the current reduced jail population permanent. "Judges have done a good job of lowering numbers for safety reasons," he said, "but that's good policy all year round."

He also said that county council must take an ownership role for properly staffing and paying the frontline workers at the facility. "These are incredibly difficult jobs and tough union workers," he said. "They deserve better."

Heil lives in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood on Cleveland's west side, where he grew up, and recently accepted a job as the city of Sandusky's law director. He said that his employers in Sandusky were on board with his political candidacy and had even worked out a pay structure which would allow him flexible hours to attend council's afternoon committee meetings.

He said his legal background will be an added benefit if he's elected to the position. His experience with municipal law and legal proceedings means he has familiarity with the "policy making apparatus," including the importance of public feedback and crafting legislation that can withstand legal scrutiny. 

Above all, though, he said he wants to "put people first," and he plans to do so while improving communication channels to ensure that those who have been left out of regional conversations are included moving forward. 

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