A coalition of residents in Cleveland's Ward 7 say they are pulling petitions today to seek the recall of Councilman Basheer Jones, who narrowly defeated
incumbent TJ Dow in 2017.
The coalition, according to a letter sent to the media Monday, is "fed up with" Jones' performance and the state of Ward 7.
"Councilman Jones has threatened residents and business owners in the ward," read the letter, "there are questions about whether or not he even lives in the ward and [we] don’t like his overall aggressive leadership style."
Denise Sheldon, who sent the letter on the coalition's behalf, was not immediately available by phone to provide additional details or to confirm that petitions had been pulled.
Jones, however, told Scene that he would "love to sit down with" any resident who is concerned about the conditions in Ward 7.
"My office is always open," he said. "I take all criticism seriously. I love to hear criticisms, concerns, complaints and congratulation. If they have issues, let's figure it out together."
Jones said he wasn't sure who the coalition members were, and did not comment on whether he thought this came directly from TJ Dow's camp, though he did say that the criticisms, including the questions about his residency, were the same that his opponents were lofting during the campaign. (He defeated the residency challenge in court, he said, and maintains that it's a smear campaign coordinated by his opponents and paid strategists.)
"I believe that these [coalition members] want the best for their community," Jones said. "We might disagree on how to do that, but we all want what's best. [Dow's] supporters are very loyal to him. But I say, don't be loyal to the councilman — don't be loyal to Basheer. Be loyal to progress."
Jones said he believes that the contentiousness of the campaign trail — and of Dow's "dirty" attempt
to transfer funds out of Ward 7 in an attempt to punish Jones — is largely in the rear view. He said he has worked to mend divides and build bridges since his first day in office.
The coalition of concerned residents was likely a small group of antagonists, Jones said. He doubted that they'd manage to collect the required number of signatures for a recall.
"But if they do," he said, "I look forward to the fight."