Cleveland Comhrá: Kevin C. Kussmaul
by Bob Carney
One of the benefits in being a columnist for this publication is the opportunity to participate or attend events that I normally would not. Recently, I attended a talk by a conservative talk show host and political commentator at an event that was sponsored by Sullivan’s Brewing Company.
At the reception prior to the talk, I met Kevin Kussmaul, a young Irish American from Parma, who is running for state representative for District 15. I was intrigued by his decision to enter politics at his age; I welcomed the chance to speak to him at length and share some of that with you.
A favorite quote of mine is from John James Audubon, “A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” This is true of all aspects of life, not just concerning our environment, but also concerning the political, social and financial future of our world.
OhioIANews: Kevin, tell us a little about yourself.
Kevin: I was born in Parma; I’m twenty-six years old; I graduated from Normandy High School in 2012 and then attended John Carroll University. I received my Bachelor of Science in Business Adminisration in 2015 and my Master of Business Adminisration in 2016.
In 2017, I had the honor of being appointed to the Parma City School District with the Board of Education, which was a great eye-opening experience.
There’s been some turmoil in the Parma Schools recently. There were two board presidents that resigned in the end of 2016. In 2017, one of the board members that was president at the time, unfortunately passed away when she was in office. I applied for her position on the board and was selected to fulfill the remaining seven months of her term from seven candidates, after all of the interviews.
I now work as a project manager at a contract manufacturing company. I loved growing up in Parma; I was able to use a lot of the things Parma has to offer. I played baseball, I loved bowling, I grew up at Red Circle Bowling Alley.
My mom and grandparents bowled, and I loved Saturday morning bowling with my buddies I grew up with. I went to the parks, swam at the “Y,”Christmas at Parmatown, all the things that make being young fun.
OhioIANews: Was this the catalyst for your current path?
Kevin: You could say that! I’ve always been interested in politics; from eighth to twelfth grade I was vice-president of my class. I have a sister with special needs; Kelly is three years younger than me and went through the Parma Schools. Parma had one designated cluster at Valley Forge, pretty much all special needs students went there.
With Kelly, I was able to see things with a different perspective than most of my peers. Just seeing that there’s a portion of our society that needs services and benefits that the government can provide to them, not impede them. Being on the school board opened my eyes to the politics at the local level and the things that impact Parma from the state level as well.
OhioIANews: In your bid for state representative, is education one of your primary focuses?
Kevin: Absolutely. Being on the school board, there is a lot of things that Parma does right and somethings that Parma has not done right. I would sit in some meetings where I was on the policy commitee, and we would be presented with policies, a lot of them made sense; programs that we needed to start to serve specific groups of students.
I would ask the administrators, “I can understand why the state is asking us to do this, but is there any funding to go along with it?” Most of the time they would reply that it was an unfunded mandate.
I would feel it wasn’t good for us; I could see the reason behind it, but without the money, it’s impossible to implement it into the district. There were a lot of things at the school board level that opened my eyes to education and the things that came out of Columbus that impact our local schools.
I want to be that voice for education, for those with disabilities, like my sister. Ohio has great programs and services, but it’s often hard to navigate the processes and procedures to recieve them. I want to bring more opportunity to our area, whether it’s economic or legislative. I will always be thinking about how I can help grow our district.
OhioIANews: Do you think it will be easier to work at that level as opposed to a local level?
Kevin: I defintely do, because I would sit in meetings where you have to abide by the rules that the state provides. When you’re in Columbus, you’re crafting the legislation that the schools have to implement.
OhioIANews: You’re very young to be running for state representative. What do you think you’ll bring to that position as a younger person?
Kevin: That’s a great question. I can defintely bring a lot of energy. Even though I’m not as seniored as a lot of other elected officials, I’ve done a lot here in Parma. I’ve lived here my entire life here, my family is from here.
My grandparents helped build a couple of the churches here. My roots are here and I had the honor of serving the district I grew up in. My education and upbringing has taught me to engage with other people, especially if they have a different opinion, so I can understand where they’re coming from. That is the most important thing I can bring to the table.
OhioIANews: Do you think others your age will become more active in politics?
Kevin: I think so. We recently started the Parma Republicans, we’re a relatively young chapter. We’ve got a lot of younger people, some of them never identified as a Republican before, but they’re tired of the same old politicians, same old practices, they want something new. I think younger people will be coming in, in both parties.
You can conact Kevin at KevinKussmaulForStateRep@gmail.com.
*Bob Carney is a student of Irish history and language and teaches the Speak Irish Cleveland class held every Tuesday @PJ McIntyre’s. He is also active in the Irish Wolfhounds and Irish Dogs organizations in and around Cleveland. Wife Mary, hound Morrighán and terrier Doolin keep the house jumping. He can be reached at email@example.com