Ohio's Legislative Black Caucus, with Stephanie Howse in front.
State Representative Stephanie Howse filed petitions to run for Cleveland City Council in Ward 7 last week. She is precluded, by term limits, from running once again in the Ohio Statehouse. And instead of running for the Ohio Senate — a common hopscotch move by state legislators — Howse has elected to pursue the impending vacancy in Ward 7 created by Councilman Basheer Jones' mayoral campaign.
The Ward 7 council primary will be among the most crowded in September. Nine candidates who filed petitions by last week's deadline have had their signatures validated and will appear on the ballot.
Howse's highest-profile opponent will be former Councilman TJ Dow, who defeated Howse in a 2008 special election after Howse had been appointed following the death of Councilwoman Fannie Lewis. Dow lost an extremely close race to Basheer Jones in 2017.
Howse told Scene Monday that returning to Cleveland City Council was something she always wanted and intended to do.
"I truly believe that I have the experience necessary and the love of my neighbors to work in partnership with Ward 7," she said. "I've come to this conclusion, with my experience in the statehouse, that the community members in Ward 7 are all we have. This idea that people at the state level are going to come help us and be partners is just not there."
Howse said she has been pleased to see, under Councilman Basheer Jones' leadership, progress on removing abandoned structures in the ward and on attracting new businesses to the neighborhoods of Hough, St. Clair-Superior and Midtown.
She now wants to focus on the economic stability of the ward's most marginalized residents and says she'll be focused on ensuring that everyone gets to benefit from new development in the ward.
If elected to council, she said she would work with her colleagues to champion policies in alignment with the needs of everyday people. She said she wants to pursue legislation that will provide economic resources to those without them. At the ward level, she said she's interested in creating a directory of people and businesses as an instrument of community-building and said she intends to be open and honest with residents about the vision for the ward and the progress and hurdles of neighborhood projects.
"When you think about where the opportunities lie for me, right now I want to build," she said. "I don't want to fight to convince somebody of the humanity in investing in communities that have been systematically left out. I can fight with the best of them, but I'm in a place where I really want to help people."
Howse, like many of her Democratic colleagues at the statehouse, has endorsed State Senator Sandra Williams for Mayor. Howse said that Williams has long been a mentor of hers and believes she is "prepared and tested" for the position.
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