Those who knew Art Snyder describe him as a “throwback” to the way things used to be, a "tough cookie," and a conservative Irish guy with an attitude. Snyder was all that and more.
The former Los Angeles City Councilman died in his sleep on Wednesday in Huntington Beach. He was 79.
Snyder represented northeast LA's 14th Council District from 1967 to 1985. That area stretched from Latino neighborhoods in Boyle Heights to suburban and largely white Eagle Rock to the north. Despite changing demographics that slowly increased the district's Latino population, Snyder was re-elected time and again, even running unopposed in 1981.
Among his constituents was Jaime Regalado, who teaches politics at California State Univerrsity, Los Angeles. He said Snyder was liked and supported by seniors, law enforcement, business merchants and conservative voters, but also served during a time of flux in LA.
"He was a tough cookie. He was a Republican in an increasing sea of blue when the city council was changing from an ultra-conservative, old Los Angeles,” Regalado said. "Some saw him as 'the old,' not making way for the new Latino growth and Latino political desires."
Regalado said he remembers Snyder was a “rascal.”
"There was a very small parcel of land in Highland Park, and a lot of residents wanted some kind of a monument, some kind of a flower bed put there," Regalado said. "And Art Snyder had decided that he was going to install a wing of a B-52 bomber. The Vietnam War was on and here he just kind of threw a red flag, so to speak, right in the middle of the debate of what this should be. 'Well, this is what I want and devil-be-damned.' That was Art Snyder.”
Perhaps the best known story about Snyder was his effort to change the name of Hermon Avenue in Montecito Heights to Via Marisol after his young daughter. Some neighborhood residents objected, but Snyder pushed the name change through.
Snyder resigned from office in 1985 after personal, legal and political troubles caught up with him. He became a lobbyist, and got into hot water over money-laundering allegations that led to a conviction on misdemeanor campaign finance violations.