Candidate Al August proves elusive on the campaign trail

The smell of paint reminds many people of tedious chores. To Al August, a candidate for University Heights City Council, the smell of paint means hard work and dedication.

While University Heights looks towards the future, the city is looking into the idea of fostering new business and creating new revenue for the city government. One of the August’s campaign promises is that, if elected, he would be able to “improve the city’s appeal for economic development.”

That’s something he has experience with. By age 15, when most of us are trying to learn how to fit in with the world, August was painting homes, a job that would later develop into a 25-year painting and drywall business.

His entrepreneurial streak did not end there. In 2004, he began a domain name sales and website development, design and consulting business, which is his main focus these days.

Having lived in the University Heights area for over 35 years, he says on his website that he knows the people well. He attended Belvoir Elementary, now known as Garrety, and Wiley Jr. High School, having grown up on Silsby Road. His father is an alumnus of John Carroll University, an interesting point because of recurring conflict between the community, council and the university.

August has never held public office, but in his campaign literature he points to his history in the community and small business as qualifications. He has also taken part in community service, according to his list of activities on the League of Women Voters’ candidate questionnaire. He participated in the Teddy Bear Run, a motorcycle ride held every April to promote awareness and prevention of child abuse. He has also done volunteer work for the Cleveland Clinic.

Despite multiple calls and emails, this reporter was not able to get an interview with August. In our one, brief telephone conversation, August seemed to have a very strong presence, however, he seemed distracted and distant. He asked this reporter to call back and promised an interview. However, he did not return further calls, trying to set up the interview.

Nor did it prove possible to see him at either of the two major candidate forums that took place in early October.

He signed up to participate at the Oct. 4 forum at John Carroll University but on the day of the event, informed organizer Dora Pruce, the director of government and community relations at John Carroll University, that he could not attend. While he was not the only candidate to miss this forum, he did not provide a statement giving the reason behind his absence, as did the other absentee, Steven Bennett.

Later that week, on Oct. 6, he failed to show up at another major all-candidates’ meeting, this one sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Heights Observer. Fern Jennings, event coordinator for the League of Women Voters, said in an email, “The only contact I had with Mr. August was a postcard saying he would attend our candidate forum and then, the day of the forum, I received an e-mail saying that he could not come.” 

Andrew Ettinger

Andrew Ettinger is a student at John Carroll University who has attempted to follow this candidate for his journalism class. 

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Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 1:56 PM, 10.25.2011