JUDGE

Plano City Councilman Who Shared Controversial Facebook Post Will Not Face Recall Election

A judge ruled that a single word in the city charter stopped the recall

The Plano City Councilman who came under fire over a controversial post he shared on Facebook in February will not face a recall election, a judge ruled Tuesday.

State District Judge Mark Rusch ruled the number of signatures on a petition ordering the recall election of city councilman Tom Harrison fell short of the necessary threshold, reversing the city secretary's report at an April council meeting.

The hearing came after the city discovered two different versions of the Plano City Charter, with just one word changing the number of votes needed to force a recall election.

In the charters, both approved in 1961 and stamped with the city's seal, the number of signatures required to force a recall is set at 30 percent of the number of people who voted.

The difference is, one of the charters says the 30 percent must be based on the "last" city election's voter turnout, while the other does not contain the word "last."

The city secretary based the initial ruling on 30 percent of the voters who cast ballots when Harrison was elected in 2015. Organizers collected about 4,400 signatures on the recall petition. 

Tuesday's ruling means the number of signatures needed should have been based on the city's "last" election in 2017. As a result, about 8,100 signatures were actually needed for a recall election.

Therefore, the group One Plano Our Plano did not gather the number of signatures necessary.

"We have sent a message to Mr. Harrison, [and] any other elected official that we are going to stand up if they actually speak and they just try to divide us," Ann Bacchus said.

The post that sparked outrage came in February, when Harrison shared a short video with the words, "Share if you think Trump should ban Islam in American schools."

A spokesperson for Harrison said the councilman is ready to put the ordeal behind him. 

"Since this thing began the second week of February we've had to put up with an awful lot of name calling and an awful lot of controversy. This wasn't good for the city. We all want to pull together at this point," said spokesperson Alan Samara.

There will not be another chance for a recall election.

Harrison is up for re-election in May and still has a few more months to decide if he will run.

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