Monday, May 11, 2015

Collin County Local Elections Brief

As is typical for municipal elections in Texas, turn out for May 9th city and school board elections was light. Only 8,539 voters cast ballots at polling locations across Collin County on Election Day, May 9th.

The lion's share of Collin County voters (64.2%) cast their ballots during the early voting period. Only 35.8% of the 23,875 total ballots cast in the county were cast on Election Day.  Only 5.1 percent of Collin County's 470k currently registered voters turned out to cast ballots in the various local elections across the county.

The Collin College place 7 board of trustees race goes to a county wide runoff election between Jim Orr and Collin Kennedy. Early voting will run the first week of June, with election day held on the second Saturday of June.

Plano's Equal Rights ordinance revision last December was a central controversy for the Plano city council and other races.  The Plano City Council updated Plano's equal rights ordinance to prohibit discrimination against people because of their military status, genetic information, sexual orientation or gender identity when it comes to housing, employment and public accommodations. The ordinance provides exemptions for schools, private clubs and religious, political and nonprofit organizations, except those that receive city grants. Public restrooms are excluded from the ordinance. Violations are a misdemeanor, subject to fines. The ordinance was originally passed more than 15 years ago.

Some oppose the Equal Rights ordinance saying it infringes on the religious rights of citizens, particularly business owners, such as apartment owners, florists or wedding planners who may decide on religious grounds to refuse service or rent apartments to Gay, Lesbian, or Transgender people.

The Dallas Morning News quotes Mike Buster, executive pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, as saying the Equal Rights ordinance is a travesty. “We believe the Plano City Council is attempting to silence people of faith in the workplace,” he said. Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere decried what he called “purposeful misinformation or ignorance of the facts” about the ordinance and encouraged residents to go to for more information. “We won’t let a vocal minority speak for the majority,” LaRosiliere said.

Buster and other opponents of Plano's Equal Rights ordinance launched a petition drive in late December to gather signatures attempting to place what amounted to an ordinance recall proposition on the May 9th Plano City election ballot to overturn the ordinance. The petition, which had to meet petition specification requirements of Texas' election code, and include at least 3,800 notarized signatures of Plano registered voters, had to be presented to the Plano city secretary by Jan. 20 for the council to either repeal the ordinance or to put the ordnance recall question on the May ballot for a public vote.

The signed petition pages submitted to the city Secretary did not include a copy of the ordinance for signatories to read before signing and did not include a mandatory column for signatories to indicate the county in which they reside, as required by Texas' election code. Plano spans Collin, Denton, and Dallas counties. The petition pages did stated: “Also under this policy, biological males who declare their ‘gender identity’ as female MAY BE ALLOWED to enter women’s restrooms!” The ordinance specifically excludes public restrooms, showers, locker rooms and dressing rooms. It states that it is not illegal to “deny the opposite sex access to facilities inside a public accommodation segregated on the basis of sex for privacy.” By making this false representation, the petition asked residents to repeal an ordinance that didn’t exist, city officials said. Since the petition did not comply with the Texas Election Code on multiple points, the City of Plano rejected the petition.

While the petition effort failed, this issue was front and center in candidate campaign messaging and endorcements. Pastor Buster stirred controversy by sending an email to Prestonwood church members endorsing several candidates running against those who support equal rights protections for all citizens. In the e-mail to church members, Pastor Buster endorsed Ron Kelley, Tom Harrison, Yoram Soloman, Paul Kaminsky, and Bob Collins. All but one of the candidates endorsed by Pastor Buster, who opposes the Equal Rights ordinance, won their respective races.
WFAA News 8:

Referring to Kelley, Pastor Buster writes in the e-mail:
"We need to make sure we are electing local leaders who support our Christian values and who stand for the people."
Kelley is with Prestonwoood's ministerial staff and is director of the Prestonwood Foundation. Pastor Buster ends the e-mail writing:
"Let's send a statement that it is time for 'We the People' to take back our city!"
In an e-mail obtained by News 8, Kelley indicates the support letter was sent to 2,500 church families.

Prestonwood church is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) religious organization. Such tax-exempt organizations are not allowed to electioneer for or against political candidates. The controversy is over the question of whether the Paster violated federal law by endorsing candidates in an email allegedly sent to a church member email address list, even though the Pastor sent the email from his personal email account.

Ron Kelley beat incumbent Mike Mansfield, who voted for the Equal Rights ordinance, for the Plano place 5 council seat:
Ron Kelley    4,518    52.47%    *
Mike Mansfield    2,228    25.88%    Incumbent
Matt Lagos    1,864    21.65%
Tom Harrison beat Jim McGee 57.8% to 42.2% for the Plano place 7 council seat.  Incumbent Bob Collins beat Ken Roberts for the Community College place 8 board of trustees seat. Paul P. Kaminsky lost to MissyBender 40.40% to 59.60% for the Plano ISD place 4 board of trustees seat. Yoram Solomon beat incumbent Mike Friedman and Sharon Hirsch for the Plano ISD place 7 board of trustees seat:
Yoram Solomon    3797    40.39%
Sharon Hirsch      3061      32.56%   
Mike Friedman      2542      27.04%   Incumbent
Complete election results for cities and school districts in Collin County.

No comments:

Post a Comment