Mayor Victoria Garcia-Snyder is Albion’s current mayor and has been since 2020. Garcia-Snyder, an ‘89 alumna from Albion College, is currently seeking re-election this week, on Nov. 8. Mayor Garcia-Snyder answered The Pleiad’s questions via email on Nov. 1.
The Pleiad: What is your background? Where is home for Mayor Garcia-Snyder?
Mayor Garcia-Snyder: I am a lifelong Albion resident. I am the youngest of four daughters born to Alberto and Agosta Garcia, who were migrant workers until they came to Albion in the 60s. My father retired from Hayes Albion after working for more than 30 years, and my mother retired from Albion College after 20 years. They were my role models for a hard work ethic. I am a proud graduate of Albion High School, and after high school, I enrolled in Albion College as a first-generation student. I was a varsity athlete (volleyball) during my time as a Brit, and I graduated in 1989. I also have a Master’s degree from Western Michigan University.
The Pleiad: What is your professional educational background?
Mayor Garcia-Snyder: I have worked in higher education for over 20 years. I have held positions in multicultural affairs, institutional advancement, and admissions, and I currently serve as the Student Resolution Advocate at Jackson College. My work in higher education has always centered on providing educational opportunities and support to first-generation students like myself. My work for the city is purposely centered on providing service to families with children.
The Pleiad: Who is a non-governmental community leader that you’ve worked with that had a positive effect on both you and the community of Albion?
Mayor Garcia-Snyder: I work closely with Mr. Harry Bonner who has been a local leader in our community for decades. He currently runs the program ‘Kids at Hope’ and the Substance Abuse Prevention Services. His knowledge, local and state-wide contacts, and respect from community members has been a crucial asset to my work as mayor in problem-solving areas that need collaboration from area non-profits. I am proud to say that I have his full support in my campaign for re-election and I hope to continue my work with him in providing solutions for our residents.
The Pleiad: What are the main issues that affect Albion and what has been done during your term to alleviate or solve these issues?
Mayor Garcia-Snyder: The city of Albion, along with the many cities in the state of Michigan, is dealing with poor road conditions. This is an issue that our City Manager, in collaboration with myself and City Council, is currently working to address. This will continue to be a priority for us in the future to find resources that will help us bring up our PACER ratings for the 53 miles of road that we have within our city limits.
The Pleiad: Why does the college and the town of Albion have such a tension-filled relationship in recent years? What can be done to help?
Mayor Garcia-Snyder: The town/gown relationship has always included some tension. This tension was recently exasperated by the previous President and the method in which he tried to accomplish certain projects. A good majority of our residents felt like the college was trying to take over the city and the school system, and this did not resonate well with families who have lived here for generations. The City Manager and I have been working in collaboration with the college to work on projects that will be a win/win for both college and town. I have regular meetings with President Calvaruso and other cabinet-level employees to work on such projects. As an alumna and former Albion College Admissions recruiter, I know the importance of working together for the betterment of both entities. The City of Albion needs the College and the College needs the support and cooperation of the City for us to be successful.
The Pleiad: What is something you have done for the community of Albion that you feel most proud of?
Mayor Garcia-Snyder: This past year, I have been able to help secure over 4 million dollars in working with a local private donor, The Albion Community Foundation, and other non-profits to help build a brand new Splashpad and install new playground equipment for a precinct in Albion that has not seen park improvements in decades. This will also provide improvements to other parks in town, the train depot and provide funding for educational programming for local youths. For only being in office for two years, this was a huge win for our community.
The Pleiad: -Where in Albion best showcases what the town has to offer for community residents, students and visitors?
Mayor Garcia-Snyder: I feel that Victory Park is probably the best showcase of what Albion is about. The beautiful Kalamazoo River runs through it and the visible fork upon which our community was founded. The park heralds the bandshell in which free community concerts are held every Sunday during the summer that attracts hundreds people not only from Albion but surrounding communities as well. The park hill is an iconic staple in the winter months for sledding, and in my day it was a nightmare for varsity athletes during conditioning! The park also holds a full scenic 18-hole disc golf course which has been used for national tournaments. This is a picturesque area that works for both community and college.