On Tuesday, US IMPACT and DFWPAC hosted the Plano Citizen’s Forum, a chance for members of the community to hear from candidates for the upcoming Plano City Council and Plano ISD school board elections on May 4.
The event was well attended, despite the entire slate of city candidates endorsed by Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere failing to participate in the speaking portion of the forum.
Maria Tu, candidate for Place 1, arrived and then left before the speaking event began.
Place 7 candidate Ann Bacchus also showed up. While there, she claimed someone moved her yard signs; but when she was shown photographic proof that her signs were never there, she made a scene and claimed people were filming her walking into the restroom. She then left after a confrontation with a constable who attempted to settle her down.
Completely absent were incumbents Rick Grady (Place 3) and Ron Kelley (Place 5). Grady missed the forum due to a business trip to Austin. Kelley initially said he couldn’t attend because of a possible conflict with his trip to Austin, then confirmed he could attend, then cancelled at the last minute because his campaign manager advised him not to go.
This was odd, considering that same campaign manager was in attendance, as were two of the other candidates he manages.
The candidates belonging to LaRosiliere’s slate seem to have a hard time making their own decisions, and instead buckle to whatever their campaign tells them to do. Maybe the cartoon description from Bill Lisle, candidate for Plano City Council Place 1, that Tu is being manipulated like a political pawn also applies to Kelley.
Lisle was present at the forum, as was the entire Plano Citizens’ Coalition city slate: Daniel Long (Place 1), Colleen Aguilar-Epstein (Place 3), Shelby Williams (Place 5), and Lily Bao (Place 7).
All of the candidates present were given a variety of questions to answer, and the audience also had the opportunity to ask the candidates questions.
When asked why citizens should vote for him, Lisle responded he was the best choice because Tu is “entrenched with the status quo” and Long is part of a group that is “commonly referred to as ‘the angry crowd.’”
The audience immediately busted out with boos. But what Lisle said was factual and, despite the crowd’s reaction, it was not an attack on them.
He simply said that they’re commonly referred to as such, which is correct. The Plano Citizens’ Coalition-backed slate is a pro-taxpayer group who are often referred to as “the angry crowd,” and justifiably so. Long said it best in his response:
“…I accept that. I’m angry about my high taxes, I’m angry about the traffic…”
Long is spot-on in his response, and people are right to be angry. Property taxes in Plano have gone up 40 percent in the last 5 years, and many people are upset about it.
But I’d like to talk about labels here. In 2016, Hillary referred to half of Trump’s supporters as “a basket of deplorables.” Trump’s campaign turned around and embraced the label and ran with it. Supporters then openly identified as “proud deplorables.” This completely eliminated the impact Hillary desired for calling them this and, in fact, ended up helping Trump.
Also, in 2016, Trump referred to Hillary as a “nasty woman.” Hillary’s campaign and supporters later embraced the label and, sure enough, shirts were made available with the words “nasty woman” on them. Her campaign and supporters adopted the name.
What’s the lesson here? Embrace the label. Doing so completely eliminates your opponent’s ability to insult you further with the name. Make light of the label, the banter, and run with it. Being triggered by a label benefits nobody and gives your opponents strength.
Plano’s “angry crowd” candidates should embrace the label. After all, they’re not angry snowflakes—they are justifiably upset, and they’re doing something constructive about it.
Update: Ann Bacchus’ campaign manager, Tommy Gusataferro, reached out to confirm he’s only managing Bacchus’ campaign, though he would not confirm whether he was providing any consultation or strategy to any other Plano candidates. When asked if Ann coordinated with the rest of the Mayor’s endorsed slate about not speaking at the event, Gusataferro said there was no communication with Ann and the others. When asked if Bacchus’ or he were aware beforehand that other candidates were going to refuse to speak, he would not comment. When asked to confirm the reason for why Bacchus left the event, he had no comment. When asked about Bacchus’ run-in with the constable, he also had no comment.