McKinney Voters Recall City Council Member La'Shadion Shemwell

A broad majority of voters chose to remove Shemwell from his seat through Proposition A for the city of McKinney

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McKinney voters chose to remove controversial City Council member La'Shadion Shemwell from office.

In a recall election Tuesday night, around 48,000 people, or 72% of voters, chose to remove the council member.

In a statement to NBC5, Shemwell said his fight is not over.

"I have stated from the beginning I would fight this illegal recall process in court and that is what I will continue to do - not just for me but for every diluted voters and disenfranchised voice in this city," wrote Shemwell.

Elected in 2017 to represent the city's east side, Shemwell has been vocal about protecting civil rights in the city and country. His term has been marked by arrests, clashes with fellow leaders and most recently declaring a "Black State of Emergency" in Texas following several high profile officer-involved shootings.

After a petition to recall Shemwell was successful and the issue landed on the ballot, the city council member and two people in his district filed a federal lawsuit against the city, claiming the actions taken to try and remove him from office violated the Voting Rights Act.

"Our goal is to really overturn this unconstitutional and illegal recall," said civil rights attorney Blerim Elmazi.

Shemwell represents District One, a minority-majority community.

His attorney says Shemwell has been targeted since the day he took office. He argues changes to the city's recall process to allow all residents to vote for his removal, meant white voices diluted those of his Black and Latino constituents.

"[He's] in a majority-minority district being recalled by a city that is over 80% white," said Elmazi.

McKinney Mayor George Fuller, who has publicly voiced his support of removing the city council member, said early election results show Shemwell's own district voted against him.

"I think it's important for people to know that District One itself voted two-to-one to recall him."

The city has scheduled a special city council meeting for Friday morning to consider and act on certifying the results of the election.

Fuller said once the results are certified the city will move forward with appointing a new person from District One to represent the city's historic and diverse area, before an election is held in May 2021.

"It is the gem of the city and we need someone who is truly devoted and dedicated to serving that community," Fuller said.

Shemwell released the following statement.

"This is not the outcome we wanted, but one we fully expected. Tonight’s recall election proved exactly why the City of McKinney is being sued in court for violating the Voting Rights Act and racial discrimination regarding its recall election changes. Since the day I was elected, officials have advocated for my recall. I issued a Black State of Emergency proclamation because I believed our community was being targeted and subjected to systemic violence that needed to be addressed. As only the second ever Black elected official in McKinney, I also became a target. Despite overcoming the obstacles and hurdles involved in being a Black candidate in a predominantly white city, this so-often-forgotten community beat the odds. I was eager to serve my district and my city, but the city and some of its leaders were upset. The only way they could get rid of me was to constantly move the goal posts and change the rules. They said I didn’t belong on the city council and didn’t deserve my seat in District 1, the only majority-minority district in the city.When they couldn’t beat me in my single-member district, they decided they would change the city charter and force me to be recalled by the entire city, rather than by the district in which I was elected. They lowered the number of recall petition signatures needed to recall me. They expanded the number of days they would be allowed to collect those signatures. The purpose of these efforts was to dilute the voting strength of Black and Latino voters in McKinney by expanding the recall to encompass a city that is classified as nearly 80% white. They wanted to make sure that me and my constituents knew our place in the city. No Black or Latino candidate has ever won citywide in McKinney, and the City’s recall efforts guaranteed that I would lose my seat. Despite all of this, the fight is not over. I’m grateful for everyone who has supported me through this recall, and those who will continue to support me going forward. I have stated from the beginning I would fight this illegal recall process in court, and that is what I will continue to do, not just for me but for every diluted voter and disenfranchised voice in this city!"

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