Plano City Councilman Tom Harrison Will Not Resign Following Anti-Islam Facebook Post | KERA News

Plano City Councilman Tom Harrison Will Not Resign Following Anti-Islam Facebook Post

Feb 18, 2018

Plano City Council member Tom Harrison says he will not resign even though his colleagues have censured him. 

Harrison came under fire after sharing an anti-Islam video on Facebook on Tuesday that shows students wearing hijabs in classrooms and says, "Share if you think Trump should ban Islam in American schools."

Harrison has apologized for the post. But city leaders say he apparently has published several other offensive social media posts in the past -- and that concerns several City Council members. 

“There is one that is so egregious, I can’t get over it,” said Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Ron Kelley in a special meeting Sunday. 

In the open portion of the meeting, several City Council members offered their thoughts on Harrison's future — both to boos and cheers from residents who packed the council chamber. Each of the six council members who spoke either called for Harrison's immediate resignation or suggested that it would be the right thing for him to do. 

“This is not a Republican or Democrat situation,” Kelley said. “This is right versus wrong. Our community is going to be polarized over this.” 

Harrison spoke briefly during Sunday's meeting. He said he was advised by his attorney not to comment, but he said he is not a bigot.

"I want to assure the citizens of Plano I am not xenophobic, I am not a bigot, I am not a racist," Harrison said. 

He added: "I did put an apology out there, I did put a cautious note out there that says I’ll be cautious from now on, but I will not resign."

A few council members said Harrison was a good man, but given that his post Tuesday was not an isolated incident, it would be best for him to step down. Anthony Ricciardelli, who represents Place 2, said he doesn't see Harrison's service on City Council being effective at this point. 

"The most important thing that must come out of this situation is a constructive dialogue," he said.

Others said Harrison's behavior wouldn't be acceptable in a corporation or nonprofit and therefore shouldn't be acceptable on a city council. 

“Plano is a city of inclusion, not exclusion,” said Rick Smith, who represents Place 8. “We represent the city of Plano — all the residents of Plano.”

After the speeches, both prepared and unprepared from City Council members, Mayor Harry LaRosiliere said he would be able to forgive Harrison as a citizen but not as a councilman. 

"I’m incredibly and ridiculously optimistic about our future," he said.

The mayor first called for Harrison's resignation Wednesday afternoon before Harrison deleted the post and published his apology in another post on Facebook that evening. 

The council voted 7-1 to censure Harrison.

The Islamic Association of Collin County says Harrison’s actions can’t be tolerated. The group has also called for Harrison to resign.