Vote for the Real Plano – Democratic Voices, Debbie O’Reilly

“Plano Candidates Use Apartment Concerns as a Smokescreen to Rescind Plano’s Equal Rights Ordinance and Introduce Bathroom Bill”

Which candidate’s version is the real Plano?

The Plano that was voted “The Best City to Live In Texas” by Money and “The Safest City to Live In America” by Forbes as touted by Mayor Harry LaRosiliere? Or candidate Lily Bao’s version, the Plano where “suburban neighborhood values are threatened” with “mass construction of high-density housing that overcrowds our schools and congests our streets”?

The answer depends on whether you rely more on facts or fear.
It also depends on which version will help you scrap Plano’s Equal Rights Ordinance and pass a version of the Texas Senate’s “bathroom bill.”

Anyone paying attention to Plano politics would think that the main issue is how to build out the city’s undeveloped land. Plano Tomorrow – the city’s current development plan voted by the 2015 City Council – or Plano Future, the vision of the Tea Party of Plano, which is not so much a plan as “what not to do.” Their website is nothing more than a rant against Plano Tomorrow and apartments.
Only 7% of land in Plano is undeveloped, but 3-year Plano resident and mayoral candidate Lily Bao and her four-pack of City Council candidates (Smith, Acklin, and Ricciardelli) think that Plano is on the brink of tipping from a lush suburbia into a Mini-Dallas. This fear of losing a lifestyle resonates with Plano citizens because they have watched Plano grow tremendously, especially in the past few years. It’s not just Plano. Collin County will double its population by 2030 and triple by 2040.

The proposed multi-use developments that Plano Future successfully petitioned against in March would have included assisted living and small luxury apartments with rent higher than most of our mortgages. Not exactly low-income, school-clogging apartments.

In politics at every level, perception often trumps reality. The far right drilled the term “high density” and has centered 100% of its messaging on that concept. “High density” is not even a civil engineering term. It’s a fabricated phrase intended to create images of people stacked on top of each other. “High density” is fear, not a platform.

None of the Bao candidate downline has a plan for the real transportation problems in Plano, which could expand DART east and west. Plano also needs circular routes and transportation hubs on the west side and a train along the Dallas North Tollway. But for such a vocal group about Plano’s congestion, Lily and her circle offer no solutions for improving transportation other than the platform “Apartments are Bad.”

The “high density” smokescreen is what they want you to see, but it’s time that Plano voters see Bao and her crew for what they are. Their motive has less to do with preventing overcrowding as it does with their true agenda: rescinding the 2015 Equal Rights Ordinance and bringing a bathroom bill to Plano.

The Plano City Council passed its Equal Rights Ordinance in 2015, outlawing discrimination in employment, housing and businesses on the basis of “sexual orientation, race and gender identity,” as well as veterans.

The Liberty Institute – a far-right wing group – warned that this measure is an “assault on religious liberty.” They rallied extreme Christian conservatives against the ordinance and promised a lawsuit.

When Mayor LaRosiliere’s ERO won, the Liberty Institute allies in the audience told him they would punish all of the “yes” city council voters at the next election. This tea party group is fulfilling its revenge right now with Lily Bao, Rick Smith, Anthony Ricciardelli, and Ed Acklin. They have been groomed to beat the tribal drums of fear.

They knew they couldn’t come out and run on an anti-ERO and bathroom bill platform, so they are baiting Plano voters with a more palatable one, a reasonable concern about traffic masking the stench of discrimination.

Every major city in Texas has an ERO. This is what Plano Future means by Keeping Plano Suburban and not a city – an equal rights city. It was never about apartments.

Trash the Plano ERO and a restaurant owner can force a gay couple out based on his “religious freedom.” A landlord can refuse to rent to a Muslim.

The Plano Future candidates also want to bring Texas’s failed Senate “bathroom bill” to Plano, the same one that was pulled just this month in Texas. Is that what we want?

If you don’t believe that the Plano Future/Lily Bao set is targeting the ERO and seeking bathroom bill, look at their own invitation to a candidate forum.

Rescinding Plano’s so-called equal rights ordinance
Support for Senate Bill 6 (the Bathroom Bill).
Their words.

That’s what’s on the ballot, Plano. It’s not Plano Tomorrow or Plano Future. It’s not about apartments or traffic.

Don’t think you’re buying Plano 1995 and take home a bathroom bill and the right to discriminate.

Debbie O’Reilly teaches AP English at Plano Senior High School where she is a 1988 alumna. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Texas Tech University and a Master’s in Literary Studies from the University of Texas at Dallas.  In her free time, she loves volunteering with the Collin County Democratic Party as a Precinct Chair and writer to help turn Collin County blue.  She lives in Allen with her two teenagers.