Laila Riaz

A 'Perfect' Fit


Smedley looks to extend her short time on Council

Madeleine Peck / For The Post

During the 2016 presidential election, Arian Smedley was an energetic Bernie Sanders supporter, and after President Donald Trump was elected, she found it to be a “devastating blow to our country.”


“I felt like I needed to get more involved politically,” Smedley said. “Now is the time.”


When Jennifer Cochran’s seat opened up on Athens City Council over the summer, Smedley found her opportunity.

“This is where I’m starting, and (seeing) what can I do to keep our town a tolerant community we like to tout ourselves as being.”– Arian Smedley

Smedley and Sarah Grace, who is also running for an at-large position, went after the open position, and Smedley was appointed as an at-large council member by the Central Committee of the Democratic Party. Council members made $7,919.55 in calendar year 2017, but since Smedley joined council midway through the year, it is •unclear what she made during that time.


She served in the position since July and is now running for re-election.


Smedley is one of five candidates running for an at-large position on city council. The other candidates include Grace, incumbent Peter Kotses, incumbent Pat McGee and Noah Trembly.


Smedley grew up in Athens, went to Athens High School and continued her education at Ohio University, earning degrees in journalism and Spanish. After spending time in New York as a reporter, she came back to her hometown with her husband after giving birth to her son, who is now 7.


Upon returning to Athens, she worked as an education reporter for The Athens Messenger. She became increasingly concerned about food insecurity and child poverty based on her reporting and decided to transition her career into social services. Smedley now works for the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities.


She found the open position on city council to be a “perfect fit.”


“I was raised in this town,” Smedley said. “It’s where I’ve chosen to stay and raise my family.”  


While on council, she has served on the committees Cochran previously served on, transportation and city and safety services.


Housing and transportation are the two main issues the registered Democrat would like to continue addressing while on the body.


She would like to improve the housing stock for low- and moderate-income individuals, which she said has been a long-standing problem for the city.


On the issue of transportation, Smedley finds the free rides on Athens Public Transport for students to be beneficial and would like to expand service to those not affiliated with the university.


Smedley has been very consistent on council, even in her short tenure, asking “clear and helpful” questions, Council President Chris Kinsley said. Kinsley said she is glad Smedley has served and is glad she has chosen to run again.


The candidate has campaigned with yard signs and going door to door. She is eager to find out the results of the race.


“I feel like I have a solid following, but you never know,” Smedley said.  


She added that everyone has the responsibility to get engaged in some way.


“This is where I’m starting, and (seeing) what can I do to keep our town a tolerant community we like to tout ourselves as being,” she said. “And continue to remain the progressive, little old Athens, Ohio.”

Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

Landing Page

Special Projects

This story is part of a series of specially designed stories that represents some of the best journalism The Post has to offer. Check out the rest of the special projects here.