When Tom Kneeland graduated high school in 1970, the Eastland Career Center alumnus planned on a career in auto mechanics. He never dreamed he would be sitting in the driver’s seat of one of Ohio’s “Best Hometowns” and “Best Places to Live,” as mayor of the City of Gahanna.
“Things don’t always work out the way you think,” he said. “I never envisioned myself ever being involved in politics.”
Kneeland envisioned a job as an auto mechanic, after being in the first class to graduate from a two-year program at Eastland. Instead, he found a career in information technology for the telephone company for more than 30 years. During that time, a hometown friend suggested he run for a seat on Gahanna city council. He did, and in 1991, won his first of many successful terms on council.
A lifelong resident of Gahanna, Kneeland said he realized about 10 years ago he wanted to be mayor of his hometown one day. “I hate to use the term ‘bucket list’, but being Gahanna’s mayor was a role I felt compelled to fill.”
He credits his experience at Eastland Career Center with laying the foundation for his future success. “It was about building responsibility, understanding the business world and having structure,” Kneeland explained. “It’s one of those places you fall in love with because of the service it provides to the community.”
He said he knows first-hand that the students who enroll in career and technical education have a good understanding of what their career path will be, even though his own path took a different turn than what he anticipated. “Kids who have an idea of what they want to do should consider Eastland-Fairfield as a path to get there.”
Mayor Kneeland also served in the Ohio National Guard as a helicopter crew chief and still loves working on cars, especially Corvettes. He is serving his first term as Gahanna mayor.