PLANO, TX — The special recall election for city councilor Tom Harrison will not go on, State District Judge Mark Rusch ruled Tuesday, saying the number of signatures garnered in a petition did not meet the requirements of the Plano City Charter.
The effort to recall Harrison first came up in February, after he shared a post on his Facebook page that seemed to suggest he believes Islam should be banned from public schools.
Shortly after, Plano Mayor Henry LaRosiliere called for Harrison’s resignation in a press conference and citizens began collecting signatures to recall the councilor, an effort ruled null by a judge Tuesday.
At the center of the hearing were two versions of the charter, each enforcing slightly different requirements for recall elections. One version of the charter called for the signatures of 30 percent of those who voted in the "last" city election. A second version of the same document did not contain the word "last."
When the petition was certified, the city secretary based the 30% total on the number of people who voted in the 2015 election when Harrison was elected.
Harrison sued the city over the matter in June, arguing in favor of the charter containing "last," which would require 8,163 signatures to prompt the recall rather than the 4,400 that were submitted. The 8,163 is 30 percent of the 27,208 votes cast in Plano’s most recent general election in May 2017 and not the election in which Harrison was elected to the council.
The suit names city secretary Lisa Henderson, who certified the petition. It suggests that she failed to follow the city charter’s procedure in certifying the petition to recall Harrison.
After hearing evidence presented by attorneys from the City and Harrison, Judge Rusch said he is convinced the original charter did contain the word "last." That means the petitions did not have the appropriate number needed for a recall election.
Judge Rusch praised the City for asking the court "to do the right thing" without advocating for protection or rejection of the recall election. The City went to Rusch’s court requesting a decision to resolve the dispute between the two versions of the charter.
Plano City Council members are expected to vote on cancelling the election Saturday when they meet to discuss the 2018-19 City budget.
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Image via City of Plano