Ask the editor: If Plano council member is removed, what happens next?

This item is a note from the editor. It first ran on May 29 in the Plano print edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

In November, Plano residents will make a choice they have never had to face before—either remove City Council member Tom Harrison from office through a public recall election, or let him serve out the remaining few months of his term.

The November recall election was spurred by a petition from a group of Plano residents critical of a series of anti-Islam posts shared from Harrison’s personal Facebook page.

But if this group convinces a majority of Plano voters to oust Harrison in November, what comes next?

The answer, I learned, is that Harrison’s seat would have to be filled twice by election in the span of a few weeks.

The city charter requires the city to call a special election within 120 days of a council vacancy occurring. In this case, that date would be no later than early March, just weeks before Harrison’s seat was already scheduled for re-election.

Whoever wins the March special election would only serve the remainder of Harrison's current term. The second—and more consequential—election will be held in May of 2019, and will determine who holds the seat for the following four years.