After a Runoff Uglier Than Any in Dallas, Plano’s New Split Council Is Hardly Its Biggest Problem

Facing perhaps the biggest challenge in Plano City Hall’s history, leaders and residents need industrial-sized shovels to dig out of a manure-slinging municipal election season that oozed with disdain, nastiness and even hate.Throughout the spring, Plano’s City Council races, which mercifully ended with Saturday’s runoff, hit new lows of bad behavior from the candidates and their supporters. The worst of what we saw in other campaigns across North Texas, including Dallas, didn’t come close to the garbage that flew in Plano.Saturday’s defeat of council member Ron Kelley by Shelby Williams and Lily Bao’s victory over Ann Bacchus for an open seat means Mayor Harry LaRosiliere’s long-held majority support has evaporated. Now municipal decision-making must move forward with a council divided, 4-to-4, between LaRosiliere and his bloc versus those elected leaders who are likely to oppose him on key contentious issues. Tie votes won’t mean a measure technically failed, but no action will result. So council members who oppose, say, approval of tax incentives for a new commercial development effectively would win the day. While some are hopeful that a 4-4 council can lead to grand compromises, a “just say no” faction would actually have the edge.Plano set itself up long ago for that potential governing gridlock. While most North Texas suburbs have councils with odd numbers of council members, Plano established six seats in 1961; a 1988 charter election increased that number to eight.  Continue reading...

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