Pasadena Texas finally removes the blot from its record of not recognizing the legal winner of a city council race.
In October 27, 2005 a judge declared that two of Don Harrison's absentee voter ballots had signatures that did not match and the votes under Texas law did not count. Don Harrison in his campaigns relies heavily on absentee elderly voters. Harrison defense in the trial, the appeal, the further appeal, the Texas Supreme Court appeal, and the further Texas Supreme Court appeal was that he had testimony from three voters whose absentee ballots were not counted that those were their ballots. All 12 judges who saw the case said that Texas law was settled on the matter, the signatures must match. Don Harrison as of last week was still discussing appealing to the United States Supreme Court.
The election dispute started in early May last year with a 525-525 tie in Pasadena's District C council race. The runoff election in June as a result of absentee and provisional ballots gave the election to Don Harrison by a vote of 591 to 590.
State District Judge James Mehaffy made the decision that in the runoff, two votes were illegally cast for Harrison, making the result 589 to 590. Mehaffey did issue a temporary stay preventing Harrison from taking his seat until the appeal was heard.
The appeals court sustained the decision and the temporary stay was lifted but Pasadena refused to seat Leroy Stanley as Harrison appealed to be heard by the full appeals court. The full appeals court denied the motion leaving Harrison still the winner. The city of Pasadena refused to unseat Don Harrison as the decision was appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.
The Texas Supreme Court refused to hear the case stating state law in ballot matters was settled and no new issues were presented. The Pasadena mayor and city council remained silent on the matter but refused to seat Leroy Stanley. Don Harrison made a further appeal to present oral arguments to the Texas Supreme Court. The full Texas Supreme Court confirmed all of the lower courts judgements by denying the petition to a rehearing on September 15. This was the last stop for Texas appeals. Don Harrison stated he was considering appealing to the United States Supreme Court. Pasadena refused to take any action on the matter.
On September 19, 2006 Don Harrison, still from his seat on city council, a $300 a month stipend position, announced he would not step down until ordered to do so by a writ of mandamus. Pasadena city council and the mayor remained silent as they have been on this issue from the beginning. A writ of mandamus is an order from a court to an institution or government official that we command you to follow the law and cease your illegal acts. The mayor of Pasadena would be the likely official to be issued the writ.
September 26, 2006 I received an email from Diane Stanley, Leroy Stanley's wife, late in the evening that Harrison has moved out of the District C offices after a mandate was issued by a judge. Harrison had been acting as district C representative at the council meeting earlier that day, and as is his wont, speechifying quite a bit for the TV cameras.
There is still no word from the mayor or city council why they refused several determinations from the courts that Harrison was the loser and not the winner of the election. It should be considered that Harrison has not been as strong a critic of the Pasadena mayor as many expected he would be this term.
The voters in District C, and the successful candidate, had been denied their legally elected representative for over half his term. In fact, it is about time for the new election race to begin for the two year term seat. Harrison at last word is still considering an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. It is not yet known if any recourse is available for the deprivation of the civil rights of the voters in district C and the winning candidate. Mayor Manlove has had no comment on these issues.
Tags: Pasadena, city politics, Texas, John Manlove, civil rights, courts, legal system, Don Harrison, Leroy Stanley, original