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Joseph J. Howe: Candidate for Housing Court Judge Offers Win/Win Idea for Homeowners and Labor Unions

By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor

After Joe Howe earned his undergraduate degree in liberal studies from Bowling Green State University, the Dean’s List student discovered that his potential in the jobs market was limited. Extremely limited.

A liberal studies degree only gained him a job as a repo man for a rent-to-own appliance/furniture store. In the year of work that followed, he arrived at two realizations. One, he was utterly disgusted at having to prey on the misfortunes of others; such a calling was “a travesty,” he says. And, two, he needed to return to school to enhance his career opportunities.

Joe Howe

Off to law school the Napoleon native went, graduating from the University of Toledo, College of Law; earning a spot on Law Review and entering a profession in which he could become extensively involved in consumer protection matters – first in private practice, then for the past 11 years, in the City of Toledo Prosecutor’s Office working in the Housing Court. “The housing court was a natural fit for me with my civil background,” says Howe of the transition into his prosecutor’s duties. “My role is, in large part, a mediator trying to get [visitors to the housing court] in compliance with the law.”

As a prosecutor he views himself as being in a position to “promote the interest of our neighborhoods,” while trying to ensure that parties are in compliance with laws that protect consumers, neighborhoods and the city in general.

Howe is the endorsed candidate for the Lucas County Democratic Party to succeed Judge C. Allen McConnell who is age-barred from seeking another term on the bench. As judge, Howe feels he would be in a position to continue the work he has undertaken since his graduation 20 years ago from law school. “As a judge, I would look for a fair and equal application of the law; those who are damaging our neighborhoods need to be punished.” And, as a judge, Howe would propose some ideas that he believes will make life better for a host of Toledoans and, thus far, a number of labor unions who have endorsed him tend to agree. More on that later.

Howe explains that his reliance on the rule of law determined how he would approach the now-famous Thomas Jackson matter when it surfaced. Jackson, an urban farmer, was ultimately fined $3,000 for his use of wood chip composts on his property that neighbors said attracted rodents. “It’s about a fair and equal application of the law,” says Howe. “In our first meeting I told him ‘I understand what you are trying to do, but as it stands now, there are no urban agriculture laws that allow the large scale composting that you are doing now.’”

The Jackson matter dragged on for over a year and the tragedy of the situation, says Howe, is that the City of Toledo is without legislation that would help citizens in such instances. “The City of Toledo is behind the curve,” he says. “There is no urban farming legislation such as other cities have, that would provide guidance to the farmers and would provide reassurance to the neighbors.”

As for Howe’s ideas, there are several he mentioned in a chat with The Truth and one is particularly striking. Noting all the people who come into the housing court needing help because they have been cited for deficiencies by inspectors but do not have the wherewithal or funds to make the necessary repairs, Howe has proposed to a variety of building trades labor unions that they form a partnership with the court and provide apprentices to work voluntarily on such dwellings. The residents need the help, the apprentices need the work.

“All the unions have agreed that it’s a wonderful idea,” he says, and have agreed to the proposal and endorsed his candidacy. It is a win/win idea for homeowners and the building trades unions, he says, and will serve the additional goal of “getting rid of illegal contractors”  – those scofflaws who prey on vulnerable homeowners and provide shoddy service.

To date, Howe has received endorsements from: Northwest Building and Construction Trades Council, Roofers Local 134, Sheet Metal Workers International Association Local 33, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 8, Carpenters Local 351, Cement Masons and Plasterers Local 886, Iron Workers Local 55, Plumbers, Steamfitters and Service Mechanics Local 50, Laborers Local 500, AFLCIO, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 75 and International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Local 45.

“I care deeply for the city of Toledo,” says the Democratic candidate. “I have a vested interest in helping Toledo be the best that it can be. I have good ideas about how to do that with the insight and experience that no one else has.”


Copyright © 2017 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:37 -0700.

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