Update: Petition Seeks Election Recall for Stephanie Howse

By Bruce Checefsky

Update: Over 1,200 signatures collected from several C.M.H.A. facilities approximately 200 were verified with a minimum of 600 needed to force a recall vote.

A recall petition to remove Ward 7 Councilwoman Stephanie Howse was filed with the City of Cleveland on Nov. 3, 2022. In the document obtained by The Cleveland Observer, Elaine Huff, elector of the City of Cleveland, authorized the affidavit, and Katie L. Burton, a resident of Ward 7, notarized it.

The affidavit states that Councilwoman Howse has expressed a lack of empathy and concern towards the underserved population of Ward 7 and has decreased service for seniors and the disabled, including grass cutting, snow removal, and leaf removal services. It claims that she “failed to respond to residents’ needs during a time of crisis and expressed blame on previous officials and stakeholders for the lack of serving the residents of Ward 7.”

Huff insists that Councilwoman Howse does not display leadership qualities and asks for her removal through a voters recall, stating, “It is important and in our best interest to not allow our current leadership to continue in this manner.”

According to the Ohio Constitution, any elective officer of a municipal corporation may be removed from office by qualified voters with a petition signed by qualified electors equal to at least fifteen percent of the total votes cast at the most recent regular municipal election. The Cleveland Observer reviewed the petition documents, including the 640+ signatures required for passage. Only 125 of the signatures are believed to be legitimate Ward 7 residents.

“In regards to the recall petition from a Ward 7 resident, Mrs. Elaine Huff, I do not have a relationship with the resident. What I do know is that this is an effort being led by the former Councilperson of Ward 7 and two former employees who were employed by Famicos Foundation who are all unemployed and need employment,” said Councilwoman Howse in an email reply to The Cleveland Observer. “My service to our Ward 7 community is at the will of the residents of Ward 7. I will continue to do my best to serve our community to bring people together and improve life for all our community members.”

The former councilman, Basheer Jones, was elected to Ward 7 City Council in 2017 and gave up his seat to run for mayor in 2021. He lost in the primary to Kevin Kelley and Justin Bibb and left office on Jan. 3, 2022. According to reporting from News Channel 5,  Jones is currently the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation over alleged mishandling of Community Development Block Grant funds.

Ward 6 Councilman and Council President Blaine Griffin said in a phone interview with The Cleveland Observer that he supports Councilwoman Howse and feels the recall petition is unfortunate for the community.

“Councilwoman Howse has been working very hard and doing a tremendous job representing Ward 7. I am a firm supporter, along with the full council, of our colleague. We will support her in every way possible,” said Griffin. “We will have an open and honest conversation with residents. She deserves better.”