Noah Spinner Has No Regrets
Alex Hall, 07-23-2018

Provided by Spinner
It may seem like an 18-year-old candidate for the Ohio State House of Representatives would have pictures or videos of himself as a child, standing at a makeshift lectern and donning a suit and tie, but Cuyahoga Falls native Noah Spinner has not held political aspirations quite that long. Nevertheless, he ran in and lost the Democratic primary on May 8th that would have allowed him to represent the party against the Republican incumbent in the 36th District, Anthony Devitis of Green, who has held the seat since 2011.

Spinner didn't start paying attention to politics until he was eight years old—just before the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Prior to that, his childhood photos included a guitar rather than a lectern. In one such photo, he had decorated the instrument with an Ohio flag, which he called “fitting” when we spoke a month after the primary ended.

The election of Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters in 2013 was another important milestone in the development of Spinner’s political ambition—four years later he would join the Mayor's Youth Advisory Council. During freshmen orientation at Cuyahoga Falls High School in 2014, a senior encouraged the incoming class to get involved. In response, Spinner joined the marching band and student government, but eventually gave up the trombone for student council. During his sophomore year, he watched the 2016 Republican primary debates and became exasperated. “They were … arguing like kids,” he said. This prompted the research that led to his decision to run for the the Ohio State House. He remarked, “I put on a jersey and stepped in the batter's box.”

The first action Spinner took was to draw up the logo that would become the symbol of his campaign. His parents, whom he secretly thought were skeptical he'd follow through, surprised him with a box of pens printed with the logo for Christmas. Both parents seem to have had a role in Spinner's development into a man beyond his years. “I think wanting to serve goes back to how growing up, my parents always taught me you're trying to help out as much as you can. Help is only help if it helps, and if your current help isn't helping, you go in and you do it yourself,” he said.

Spinner formally announced his candidacy in February of this year, and the campaign added to his already busy life as a senior in high school, where the other kids took to calling him “Senator,” and “Mr. President.” Still, he got lots of exercise walking (and running) to knock on doors (over 650 during the campaign), and he still graduated magna cum laude from Cuyahoga Falls High School. He cites the building of relationships as one of the best parts of the campaign experience. “It's a whole other community that I feel a part of,” he said, having met a bevy of political heavyweights during the run-up to the primary.

Spinner's opponent, Canton-based labor lawyer Tim Piatt, won the primary with 58% of the vote. His age and experience seemed to overshadow Spinner's lack of commitments and willingness to focus solely on representing the 36th District. Of Piatt, Spinner says “he has my full support behind him.” Of Piatt's opponent, Anthony Devitis, meanwhile, Spinner asserts that “he is stealing taxpayer dollars by not going to session … if you did that in any other job, you'd get fired—this is a chance to fire him, so I say let's do it.” He has even been offered a position with Piatt's campaign to help rally support in the Falls, and he also hopes to work on the campaign of Casey Weinstein, a Hudson city councilman running for the State House in the 37th District.

For now, Spinner is back to being a teenager with the primary over. He works as a summer camp counselor and looks forward to starting college at the University of Akron this fall. Asked whether he'd dip his toe in political waters again, he does not rule out a run for Cuyahoga Falls city council in 2019, where he would face his current ward councilwoman, Mary Ellen Pyke, a Republican who began her tenure on council three years before Spinner was born.

All in all, Noah Spinner seems poised to embark on another political campaign at some point, whether in 2019 or beyond, and this year's Democratic primary served as his first loss. Eventually, he'll get his first win, and a chance to serve.

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