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Plano To Cancel Recall Election For City Councilman Who Shared Anti-Islam Post

City of Plano; Facebook
Plano City Council member Tom Harrison will be spared a recall election after a judge found the city used the wrong charter and the number of petition signatures fell short.

A recall election to decide whether to remove a Plano City Council member who made an anti-Islam social media post will be called off.

A district judge ruled Tuesday that Plano used the wrong number of signatures to certify the recall petition calling for the removal of Councilman Tom Harrison, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Harrison filed a writ with the Texas Court of Appeals, arguing the city used the incorrect number of signatures. After the daylong hearing, District Judge Mark Rusch found that Plano used a flawed copy of its official city charter and thus the number of petition signatures fell short to hold a special election.

The petition was signed by more than 4,400 voters in April.

The Morning News reported:

“The case came before the judge after city officials discovered dueling copies of the 1961 charter last month in a file drawer at city hall. One had a brown cover. The other had a green cover. Both were labeled as the official city charter for that year.
“City officials weren't sure which version was correct and sought the district court's ruling.”

The group Our Plano One Plano launched the petition after Harrison shared an anti-Islam video on his personal Facebook page in February. The video showed images of students wearing hijabs in classrooms and said: “Share if you think Trump should ban Islam in American schools.” 

In response, Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and several fellow council members called for his immediate resignation. Harrison deleted the post and apologized but ultimately, did not step down even though his colleagues censured him. Many in Plano said his actions were a blow to the city's Muslim community

"I want to assure the citizens of Plano I am not xenophobic, I am not a bigot, I am not a racist," Harrison said at the special council meeting held on Feb. 18. 

It was revealed at the February meeting that Harrison had a history of publishing offensive social media posts.

Our Plano One Plano official Ann Bacchus said Tuesday's ruling "did not change the message of Plano voters who wanted him out of office."

"There is no place in Plano for bigotry," she said.

Harrison wasn’t at the hearing, but issued a statement afterwards, apologizing to the city of Plano “for the turmoil they’ve been put through,” and thanking people for their support.

Harrison's attorney said the city will save an estimated $100,000 by not funding the election. Rusch also ordered the city of Plano pay $3,000 in attorney's fees to Harrison's legal counsel, according to the Morning News. 

“I'd like it if we can take away any further controversy as I complete my term," Harrison said in the statement.

Harrison, who represents Place 7, was elected in 2015 to a four-year term, which expires in May.

Plano City Council will vote Saturday to formally cancel the election.