HOUSTON (AP) — A Houston man who has been accused of misrepresenting his race to voters said Friday he should keep his seat as a community college trustee despite a lawsuit seeking to remove him from office for allegedly not living in his district.
Dave Wilson narrowly won a seat on the Houston Community College board of trustees in November. Wilson drew scrutiny at that time when his opponent alleged campaign mailers that Wilson sent out to voters implied that Wilson was black. Wilson, a Republican who is white, won in a district made up of mostly black voters. Wilson has said he never lied on his mailers.
Now, Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan alleges that Wilson is ineligible to serve because he was not living in his district at the time of the election.
While a judge did not take any action during a hearing Friday, a temporary restraining order preventing Dave Wilson from taking the oath of office is still in place. But Wilson said he plans to be at the board's first meeting next week.
"I got voted in, and they are wanting to overturn the will of the people, and I think what they are doing is kind of a charade," said Wilson, 67, who denied the lawsuit's claims that he doesn't live at the address listed on election documents. "That is my home, and that is where I reside."
In its lawsuit, Ryan's office alleges the address Wilson listed is a commercial property — a warehouse — and not a residential one.
Wilson's attorney, Keith Gross, questioned why Ryan's office is going after his client but not other elected officials who have faced similar accusations.
First Assistant Harris County Attorney Robert Soard said in Wilson's case, the county attorney's office received credible evidence showing that Wilson is not living at the address he listed.
When asked if the lawsuit was filed because of his now-scrutinized campaign mailers, Wilson said, "Who knows why they are pursuing this?"
Soard said politics has nothing to do with the lawsuit.
Whether Wilson will be allowed to sit at Thursday's board of trustees meeting remains to be seen. The temporary restraining order in the case expires on Monday. But Ryan's office could ask that it be extended.
Soard said Friday that Wilson has already violated the restraining order by filing paperwork that swore him in. But Gross said the restraining order is illegal because neither he nor his client were properly notified about it before it was issued Dec. 30.
Gene Locke, special counsel for Houston Community College, said if the restraining order is extended, the college would have to obey it.
Wilson, who has a history of making anti-gay statements, has unsuccessfully run for political office on multiple occasions, including a 2011 bid for mayor.
When Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is openly gay, first ran for the position in 2009, Wilson sent out fliers asking people to not vote for her, saying her election would lead to the "promotion and demand for legal and political approval for homosexual behavior that will stifle religious freedom and trap millions of more people in its deadly grip."
Before his election in November, his only political success came in 2001, when he helped push a city charter amendment barring benefits for the same-sex partners of Houston city employees.
In his election to the community college board, Wilson sent out direct mailers with pictures of African-Americans that said, "Please vote for our friend and neighbor, Dave Wilson." There were no photos of Wilson in the mailers.
Another mailer said, "Endorsed by Ron Wilson." If individuals didn't pay attention to the fine print that said Ron Wilson is Dave Wilson's cousin, voters might have believed the Ron Wilson being referenced was a former longtime state representative from Houston who is black.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/juanlozano70.