In a victory for local grassroots over outside special interests, citizen-backed candidates won Plano’s contentious city council runoff elections Saturday, defeating the mayor’s endorsed candidates who were bankrolled by big developer money.

Challenger Shelby Williams defeated Place 5 incumbent Ron Kelley 53-47 percent. Lily Bao won the open Place 7 seat over Ann Bacchus by a 57-43 percent margin.

“This is a victory for the people,” Bao said at an election night celebration with over 100 campaign volunteers and supporters. “We are united by love of this country and our shared values and principles.”

“This was an election about truth; transparency; and government of, by, and for the people,” Williams added.

Williams and Bao campaigned on responsible growth that maintains Plano’s current suburban identity and doesn’t overtax residents or give special deals to developers at the expense of residents.

Kelley and Bacchus were part of Mayor Harry LaRosiliere’s slate of pro-developer candidates who campaign finance reports show were heavily financed by developer-funded We Love Plano PAC, which gave Bacchus well over $100,000 and Kelley at least $40,000.

Campaign rhetoric heated up during the runoff, in attack mailers from the mayor’s slate and on social media. The mayor even posted on Facebook calling Williams and Bao the “Hate Slate.”

“Money does not win elections; half-truths and flat-out lies do not win elections,” Plano resident John Myers told the crowd of supporters Saturday night. “What wins elections are you, the grassroots.”

Council members Rick Smith and Anthony Ricciardelli congratulated their new colleagues at the election night party.

“We’re a city of excellence not because of money but because of people,” said Smith. “The city is for the people, not the developers.”

“We will have an effective tax rate in Plano,” Smith added, eliciting cheers from the crowd.

With the addition of Williams and Bao, council will have four votes to counter the mayor and his three reliable votes in favor of developers and tax hikes. The average Plano homeowner’s city property tax bill increased 40 percent in just the past five years.

Two other candidates endorsed by the mayor, Maria Tu (Place 1) and Place 3 incumbent Rick Grady, were elected to council in the May 4 general election and sworn in May 13.

Williams and Bao will be sworn in to office after the final election results are canvassed.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.