Jan 26, 2023 - News

Stephanie Howse recall effort fails to get enough support

Ward 7 Councilwoman Stephanie Howse. Photo: Cleveland City Council

A campaign to recall Cleveland Ward 7 Councilwoman Stephanie Howse has run aground.

Driving the news: Opponents of Howse submitted petitions to remove her from office at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in November, but gathered an insufficient number of valid signatures.

  • They had until early January to submit additional signatures but failed to do so.

Catch up quick: Howse, who was elected to City Council in 2021 after serving two terms as a state representative, told Axios the recall effort was driven by former Ward 7 councilman and 2021 mayoral candidate Basheer Jones and two former employees of the Famicos Foundation, a community development corporation (CDC) in the ward.

The other side: Jones denied any personal involvement.

  • "If there is a recall effort," he told Axios, "it is a sign that residents feel their voices are not being heard, and that doesn't make me happy."

Between the lines: Howse said Famicos received 100% of Ward 7's community development block grant (CDBG) allocation during Jones' tenure (2018-2021). CDBGs are how local CDCs receive the vast majority of their funding.

  • "But Ward 7 has four CDCs," Howse said. "I gave Famicos half, and divided the remaining allocation between Campus District, Midtown Cleveland and St. Clair-Superior."

What they're saying: John Anoliefo, executive director of Famicos, confirmed to Axios that he laid off two employees, Katie Burton and Fatima Shabazz, due to the CDBG funding reduction in 2022.

  • Burton was one of the named petition circulators on the documents provided to Axios by the election board.

Zoom in: Per the city charter, a recall campaign must collect valid signatures from 20% of ward voters who cast ballots in the previous municipal election.

  • In Ward 7, which encompasses the Hough neighborhood and portions of Midtown and St. Clair-Superior, that translates to 535 people.
  • According to the election board, only 165 of 641 initially submitted signatures were deemed valid.

Flashback: Previous Ward 7 councilmen TJ Dow and Basheer Jones both survived recall efforts while in office.


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