Candidates for bench offer experience in housing matters

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  • CTY-westend03-9

    Joseph “Joe” Howe, Democratic candidate for the seat Judge C. Allen McConnell is leaving, in The Old West End festival in Toledo, Ohio, on June 3.

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  • CTY-westend03-8

    Jim Anderson, second from left, candidate for the Toledo Municipal Housing and Environmental Court, in The Old West End festival in Toledo, Ohio, on June 3.

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Though neither has been a judge before, both candidates seeking the Toledo Municipal Court bench to be vacated by Judge C. Allen McConnell have direct experience in the Housing and Environmental Court Judge McConnell has presided over for 18 years.

Jim Anderson, who has had a private law practice since 2011, worked as Judge McConnell’s law clerk and bailiff from 2007 to 2010.

Joe Howe, a lawyer for 20 years, has worked as the assistant city prosecutor in the Housing Court for the past 11 years.

“I am the only candidate who has successfully defended families and neighborhoods by prosecuting blight cases and prosecuting unscrupulous contractors who take advantage of those families,” Mr. Howe, 46, said.

Mr. Anderson, 48, said he learned the ins and outs of the cases that come before the court when he worked for Judge McConnell. He also said he has “represented landlords, tenants, plaintiffs, and defendants on virtually every type of case seen in the Housing Court.”

At 73, Judge McConnell is barred by age limits from seeking re-election to the court, which hears civil and criminal cases that involve local building, housing, health and safety codes, and landlord/tenant issues. 

The judicial race is non-partisan, meaning a political party will not be attached to the candidates’ names on the ballot, although Mr. Anderson, a Republican, and Mr. Howe, a Democrat, both have the endorsement of their parties. Both are graduates of the University of Toledo College of Law.

Mr. Howe has a long list of changes he would make if elected. They include: partnering with the local building trades to provide labor for homeowners who cannot afford to hire contractors, creating a hoarders program that would provide treatment for individuals with mental health conditions that cause their hoarding, and creating a community-based docket that would organize cases by geographical area so that neighborhood groups could more easily monitor cases and provide input on properties in their area.

Mr. Howe said he has “the knowledge, experience, and the established relationships with community resources to protect our families and neighborhoods” and could continue and expand the work of the Housing Court “on day one.”

Mr. Anderson said he would expand cooperative efforts with the Lucas County Land Bank if elected, and would implement a “Clean Hands Doctrine” like the one used in Cleveland’s Housing Court.

“This program requires that any plaintiff landlord who is asking the Housing Court for its resources to help resolve a dispute with a tenant come before the court with clean hands, meaning he or she has no properties under orders with the criminal branch of the Housing Court,” he said.

Mr. Anderson said he would encourage efforts to improve the safety, quality, and appearance of neighborhoods while holding property owners accountable.

Municipal court judges are elected to six-year terms and currently are paid $125,850 a year.

The general election takes places Nov. 7.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: or 419-213-2134.