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Effort to recall Cleveland Ward 7 Councilman Basheer Jones fails for second time

October 9, 2018

Effort to recall Cleveland Ward 7 Councilman Basheer Jones fails for second time

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A second attempt to recall Ward 7 Cleveland Councilman Basheer Jones has again failed before it could start. 

The woman who began the petition drive to force a recall election failed to submit the minimum number of signatures by Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline required to start the process.  

Allison Black, who pulled the recall petitions, informed the City Council clerk during the day Monday she had not collected the minimum needed to start the recall process. 

Cleveland’s charter allows voters to remove any elected official from office via a recall election. To force an election, supporters must file an affidavit with the clerk of City Council that names the target of the recall and the reasons for seeking that person’s removal from office.  

Twenty percent of the voters who voted in the last election for that office must sign the petitions.  

In the case of the Basheer Jones recall drives, petitioners needed to collect 676 signatures - 20 percent of the Ward 7 vote in the 2017 election. 

Those signatures must with the clerk of council no later than 30 days from when petitions were pulled.  

The petitioners can get 20 additional days to gather more signatures if it is found not enough of those turned in are valid. But to get the process started, Cleveland’s charter requires petitioners reach the 20 percent threshold.  

Black, a granddaughter of legendary Councilwoman Fannie Lewis who long represented what now is Ward 7, was the second person to attempt a recall drive.  

The first, begun last July, ended in the same fashion when the woman circulating the petitions, Samantha Gray, failed to file them with the city. 

Although these efforts failed, the charter does not preclude further attempts to get a recall election. 

City Hall insiders believe that those behind the effort are supporters of former Councilman TJ Dow, whom Jones defeated in the 2017 election by just 13 votes. 

When Dow held office, Black wrote a letter of support for his council newsletter in which she praised Dow for “carrying the torch” on behalf of her grandmother, working for the benefit of residents.  

Even before Jones took his oath of office, people made calls to Cleveland City Council’s offices asking how he could be recalled.  

In their affidavits filed with the council clerk, Black and Gray each accused Jones of making threats to businesses and residents and questioned his residency -- accusations Jones previously has denied. 

City Council President Kevin Kelley has said he favors changing the charter to rein in what he views as frivolous recall drives.  

Changing the charter would require voter approval. Among the changes Kelley would like to see:  

Barring a recall effort in the first year or last year of a member’s term.  Mandating that efforts to recall a ward official be initiated by people from the ward.   Expanding the signature rules to require names be collected from at least half the precincts in the ward, and that the total gathered in a precinct reach at least 5 percent of the vote from the last election.  

Kelley has complained that the process can be misused at the expense of taxpayer dollars.   

If forced to hold a special election for a recall vote, the city must pay about $2,400 per precinct. Ward 7 has 23 precincts, so the cost of a special election would top $55,000.   

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