Validity of college trustee's election in question

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Associated Press

Posted on January 14, 2014 at 5:32 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 14 at 5:32 AM

HOUSTON (AP) — While a judge on Monday continued to forbid a Houston man who's been accused of misrepresenting his race to voters from taking the oath of office during a lawsuit that claims he didn't live in his district, the elected official says that's not going to stop him from doing his job.

A restraining order preventing Dave Wilson from being sworn into office as a Houston Community College trustee was extended after a court hearing Monday. But Wilson and his lawyer say he's already filed paperwork swearing himself in so the order is moot.

Wilson narrowly won a seat on the Houston Community College board of trustees in November. During the campaign, Wilson was accused of misrepresenting his race. His opponent alleged that mailers that Wilson sent 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 Wilson is ineligible to serve because he was not living in his district at the time of the election. Wilson has denied the lawsuit's claims.

During Monday's court hearing, state district Judge Mike Engelhart extended for two weeks a temporary restraining order preventing Wilson from taking the oath of office for the lawsuit over where he lived. Engelhart's ruling did not expand the scope of the restraining order, such as barring Wilson from working as a trustee until the lawsuit is resolved.

Wilson, who has indicated he was not aware of the Dec. 30 restraining order before filing his paperwork swearing himself in, said he planned to attend his first board meeting Thursday.

"They are trying anything and everything they can to circumvent the will of the people," he said.

First Assistant Harris County Attorney Robert Soard said all the judge could do Monday was extend the restraining order. Soard said his office has requested a temporary injunction to keep Wilson from working on the board until the lawsuit is resolved. A hearing on that request was set for Jan. 24.

Gene Locke, special counsel for Houston Community College, said school officials are still reviewing legal issues related to Wilson serving on the board.

Wilson, 67, who has garnered controversy in the past for making anti-gay statements, has unsuccessfully run for political office on multiple occasions.

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.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/juanlozano70.

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