Twenty years ago Kevin Kennedy and Dean DePiero were fraternity brothers at Ashland University, residing in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house and making the most of their senior year in college.
Flash forward to today, the two, still best of friends, are now presiding mayors in two nearby suburbs of Cleveland.
Kevin Kennedy ’90 officially took office as mayor of North Olmsted in January while Dean DePiero ’90 is in his second term as mayor of Parma. DePiero administered the oath of office for Kennedy as he was sworn in as mayor in January.
“We lived together in the Phi Kappa Psi house on campus for four years,” Kennedy said. “We shared the same house and were involved in a lot of social activities together. We were even in each other’s wedding.”
Kennedy and DePiero said the friendship between the two of them has continued beyond Ashland University and now impacts their families as well as their careers.
“I was happy to help him out with his campaigns and it was great to see him return the favor for me,” Kennedy said. “I was honored to have him swear me in as mayor in January and before that he swore me in as council president five years ago.”
DePiero agreed, noting that the swearing-in ceremony was a special time for both he and Kennedy.
“I was really proud that he asked me to administer his oath,” DePiero said. “We met at Ashland but our dads were friends before we knew each other. I told him I was proud to be his friend but I also told him that his dad, who had passed away, would have been very proud of him.”
As a newly elected mayor, Kennedy admits he has received some assistance and advice from DePiero.
“Dean has a long history of politics. He has obviously been through it before and with these tough economic times it is good to have someone who knows what works and what does not work. He has helped out a lot,” Kennedy said. “Just like the old days in Ashland, it’s a group effort sometimes. At Ashland, we took a lot of classes together and often shared the same book.”
DePiero admitted that the two of them find themselves talking “mayor” business often.
“We do that a lot,” he said. “When we get together to have a beer or whatever, we talk about the challenges of running a city and occasionally he will seek my advice and I will seek his also. He has a great business sense on handling issues.”
Kennedy founded Computer Management International Inc. in 1991 and over the years he and his employees have built the business into an international multi-million company headquartered in downtown Cleveland.
Kennedy said he now enjoys his time as mayor of North Olmsted.
“I do enjoy it and some people are surprised to hear that with tough economic times we are in, but coming from business background has helped me. I feel I also have been helped because I have hired the best possible people at North Olmsted. I have hired directors who have been excellent,” Kennedy said. “I am really enjoying serving the city I grew up in. My father grew up here also so it has been a labor of love and it’s important for me to put the right stamp on the city.”
DePiero, now in his second term, acknowledges that the poor economy has made running a city more difficult these days.
“Most days I enjoy my time as mayor. The last year and a half has been very challenging because of the downturn of the economy,” he said. “But thanks to a lot of our fiscal practices and being conservative, we have been able to get through without any layoffs.”
DePiero and Kennedy also were named to Crain's Cleveland Business Magazine’s "40 under 40," which spotlights 40 Greater Clevelanders under the age of 40 who have made an impact on northeast Ohio. DePiero was selected in 2001 and Kennedy in 2002.
DePiero’s political history includes three terms as a member of the Ohio general assembly where he served as a representative of the 20th House District. He then decided to run for mayor of Parma and was elected in the fall of 2003.
A staunch proponent of regionalism, DePiero was elected president of the Ohio Municipal League, serves on the executive committee of the Cuyahoga County Mayors and Managers Association, is a board member for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD), and is a past board member of the Northeast Ohio Area Coordinating Agency.
“I try to take a leadership role in areas beyond the city,” he said. “As mayors, it is important because we are dependent on the success of other cities and the region around us. We have to look past city borders to make the whole region and state prosperous.”
DePiero was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1994. He is a member of the Parma, Cleveland, Cuyahoga County and Ohio Bar Associations and is a practicing attorney with an office in Parma. He specializes in business and contract law, criminal law, real estate law and probate law and also serves as "Of Counsel" for McDonald Hopkins attorneys at law located in Cleveland.
During his years at Ashland, he served as president of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and also served on Judicial Board and as an Orientation Team member.
“Ashland University was a good educational experience. I wasn’t the most book-smart student, but I gained a lot of knowledge that has helped me over the years,” he said. “I also developed my interpersonal skills. I talk to college kids all the time and I stress that grades are not the most important thing they’ll get out of college. They need to learn how to deal with people.”