“It’s quite a route,” Harry LaRosiliere says, explaining how he arrived in Plano.
The city’s mayor—he celebrated one year on the job on May 20, two weeks after his 52nd birthday—was born in Haiti and moved to Harlem when he was 3 years old. He officially became a U.S. citizen when he was 18.
His wife, Tracy, came to Texas first, in 1992, for a job with Frito-Lay. LaRosiliere followed in 1994. The move was supposed to be temporary; they’d get their family started, and then move back to New York. “We thought we’d be here for—three years, I think was the number.” He laughs. “We’re 17 years late.”
It’s surprising to hear that LaRosiliere ever considered leaving; he’s been entrenched in the community from the start. He joined the Plano Chamber of Commerce in 1996, and served on the city council from 2005 to 2011, all while he and Tracy raised their daughters, Brianna and Maya.
Running for mayor was the natural next step, and his election—he’s the first black mayor in the city’s history—is a perfect example of how Plano has changed in his two decades there. Not that word of that change has spread too far beyond the city limits.
How outsiders see Plano is “much different than reality,” LaRosiliere says. “Most people think it’s 70, 75 percent Caucasian. But demographically, we represent the nation. If you drive around town—stores and restaurants—we’re truly multicultural.”
It’s also a young city—42 percent of the population is under 32—which is why LaRosiliere says, “I’d like to think we’re the cool kids of Collin County.” May’s inaugural Suburbia Fest at Oak Point Park—with performances by David Guetta, Tegan and Sara, and Alabama Shakes—backs up that statement pretty well. Less cool, but still important, is Toyota’s recent announcement that the company would be moving its U.S. headquarters to Plano. And both are key to LaRosiliere’s vision for the city.
“We’re going to be a city for people that are coming,” he says, “as well as the people that are here.”
LaRosiliere knows what he’s talking about. He’s been both. — Zac Crain
- Median Age: 36.7
- Population Growth (2000-2013): 23.60%
- Population Density: 3,834 people per square mile
- Students Passing STARR K-11: 90%
- Average SAT Score: 1666
- Students Taking SAT/ACT: 82.20%
- Instruction Spending Per Student: $4,668
- Violent Crime Rate: 1.32 per 1,000 residents
- Non-Violent Crime Rate: 23.84 per 1,000 residents
- Average Price of Homes Sold (2013): $285,205
- Sales Price Change (2011-2013): 8.70%
- Owner-Occupied Homes: 63.00%
- Walkability (New York City is an 88): 36