Humans of JCU: Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan

Mayor Brennan (second) with Collin Kennedy ‘24 (third) and Zachary Sinutko ‘24 (fourth) during a record-breaking radio interview with WJCU.

Zachary Sinutko

Mayor Brennan (second) with Collin Kennedy ‘24 (third) and Zachary Sinutko ‘24 (fourth) during a record-breaking radio interview with WJCU.

Aiden Keenan, Photo Editor

Editor’s note: Aiden Keenan worked as the student outreach director on Mayor Brennan re-election’s campaign. He did not work for Brennan at the time of this writing, and The Carroll News retained complete editorial control at each stage of writing and editing.

Mayor Michael Dylan Brennan has been Mayor of University Heights since early 2018, and although significant changes have been made throughout the last few years, many JCU students have not frequently interacted with the Mayor. The Carroll News sat down with Mayor Brennan on Feb. 4 to discuss his career so far, his experiences as mayor and what comes next for JCU students and University Heights

Originally from Erie, PA, Brennan moved with his family to Ohio when he was a kid. His father moved to Ohio in pursuit of a high school teaching job.

Brennan explains, “I would be remiss if I didn’t mention I grew up in Geneva and I grew up in Youngstown. So, for four years, I lived on the south side of Youngstown in the city…And it shaped a lot of my social and political awareness…”

Brennan’s mother was heavily involved in the political world as well. From a young age, he attended parades with her, met high-ranking officials and learned about the issues plaguing Youngstown at the time. After studying Political Science at Bowling Green State University, he attended law school and graduated from Cleveland-Marshall with a Juris Doctor. Brennan went on to clerk for a judge, practice with a legal firm and finally start his own firm. 

Brennan told The Carroll News that he found his future home in University Heights, so he decided to stay.

“We chose University Heights because I love this community,” Brennan continued “It’s walkable, it’s near everything, it’s a destination in its own right for certain things… Beautiful homes, lots to do, good restaurants and near lots of things.”

Brennan worked with nonprofits in the area and began to learn about politics. Alongside community members, he attended city council meetings and encouraged the city to purchase the land used to be Northwood Elementary School. 

He explained that he and his neighbors started going to city council meetings and expressing support to use the lot for a park. 

“Once the city bought the land, a bunch of us served on the citizen’s committee that suggested what the park should look like,” Brennan stated. Though he admits that the end result was not exactly what he would have created in a perfect world, this volunteer experience motivated him to dive deeper.

From there and inspired by the 2016 national election, he took a shot running for office himself. Brennan said originally he thought he might run for city council, but felt like “mayor was where [he] could do the most good.” He made his  announcement in July of 2017, and in November he won by 50 votes. 

His first four years in office were quite busy, to say the least. Mayor Brennan told The Carroll News  that he was especially proud of the rebrand of the City and steps toward the first new housing development in fifty years.

Mayor Brennan delivers his victory address in Nov. 2021. (Mike Cook)

Max Malley ‘24 stated that he believes that Mayor Brenan has been productive during his term. 

“He goes out of his way to ensure that student voices are heard even though he has no obligation to do so,” Malley mentioned, including that he had several positive interactions with the Mayor, especially at recent city council meetings and during the 2021 JCU Homecoming football game. 

Mayor Brennan was reelected in 2021 for a second term. During his 2021 campaign, Brennan ran on the slogan, “we’ve only just begun.” Looking to the future, he looks forward to continuing the partnership between JCU and City Hall, upgrading University Square, and furthering City Hall initiatives. John Carroll means a lot to Mayor Breannan. He told The Carroll News, “… [John Carroll University] is a regional asset besides a city asset. It’s wonderful having it here.”

“We are here to move the community forward, and that’s why I do this. I do it for the service, I do it to lift the community, I do it because I’ve seen what happens when you don’t evolve,” said Brennan. “When you don’t evolve, you die. And I saw that happening and I don’t want to see it happen here”

Brennan says he has been focusing on University Square. When discussing renovations for the mixed-use building, he hopes to further develop  the city providing more space for citizens to live, shop and play.

Despite his busy schedule , Brennan especially enjoys the chance to speak with residents and work with them on their issues. Mentioning the relatable pitfalls of  procrastination, Brennan told The Carroll News that he sometimes answers the phone instead of focusing on some other task. 

He explained, “sometimes I just pick it up! I’m in the middle of something and could use the break or the distraction and we will see what they have to say. Usually, when I do, the response is something like ‘oh! I didn’t expect to get you.’ and I’m like ‘well, here I am! What do you want to talk about?’”


Update: Feb. 17, 2022