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Laura Fulmer Takes Her Job Seriously. Her Community Loves Her for It

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Intro
Laura Fulmer

Laura Fulmer is all of 5-foot-3, but as the sole housing code enforcement officer for Youngstown, Ohio, she stands far taller. With courage and a sense of duty that impresses others, she places herself in harm’s way to ensure that the city’s residents can live in peace and be proud of their neighborhoods.

“When she drives down the street, people start cleaning up their yards. Good people cheer her when they see her,” said Karen Humphries, accounts coordinator in the city’s finance department and vice president of AFSCME Local 2312 (Council 8). “Everybody is just in awe of her. Thank God she’s here for the city.”

About five years ago, Humphries and her neighbors asked law enforcement to get rid of a family that was living illegally in a run-down house and terrorizing the neighborhood. But the police and sheriff didn’t get rid of them, but Fulmer was able to get the job done.

Fulmer said the family had illegally tapped the water supply and was dealing drugs. “The kids were stealing, there were a lot of broken-down cars” on the property, she recalled. Authorities also received allegations of spousal and child abuse.

She arrived with a backup police officer early one morning and told a male occupant that the place was filthy as a pigsty and smelled like one, too, and informed him she was shutting off the water. 

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Humphries said Fulmer – who’s also president of Local 2312 – “gave him 48 hours to get out of the house. He knew she wouldn’t back down. He got out. We would have lost everybody in the neighborhood if we didn’t have somebody like her.”

Fulmer shrugged off the praise, saying, “It only takes one to ruin a neighborhood. This was that house. That was just a day doing my job. I don’t do it for the glory, I just do it for the citizens.”

Another case Fulmer is particularly proud of involved a squatter-occupied house in which she discovered old computers that proved the occupant “was pandering child pornography between Ohio and Arizona.” The occupant went to federal prison.

She’s also proud of having received an award from the city of Youngstown in 2013 for her work with the mentally ill. Many times over the years, she said, she runs into hoarders who keep things like trash that can endanger their lives. She was feted for making sure these hoarders are removed from their homes and given psychiatric help.

“I’m truly like someone who got into government work because I want to help people,” Fulmer said. “It sounds like a cliché, but I really do.”