FARMERS BRANCH - Say the name Farmers Branch and the first word you may think of is "immigration."
Now, the man who has led the city in its contentious and costly battle to keep illegal immigrants from renting homes and who has pushed for the city to form its own school district made a stunning announcement Thursday.
Mayor Tim O'Hare won't seek reelection.
With his wife ready to give birth to their first child, O'Hare is giving up politics for parenthood.
“It's been a tough decision, but we think as a family that it's the right decision," he said.
After a total of nearly six years serving as a city council member and mayor, O'Hare claims job retention, economic development and lower crime as his legacy. But, mostly he's known for his effort to bar illegal immigrants from apartments.
It's cost taxpayers $3.7 million so far, and the fight goes on in a federal appeals court.
“Well, I don't think you have to justify it," O'Hare said of his decision. "I agreed to serve three years. I'm leaving, but they will continue moving forward because the council that is there wants to see it happen, and the reason they do is they think it's the right thing to do.”
O'Hare also thinks it's right for Farmers Branch to consider forming its own school district, saying he was displeased with the Carrollton-Farmers Branch district's lenient grading policy and the allowance of the Hispanic group LULAC to mentor in schools.
The question is on the May ballot as a non-binding referendum to gauge public opinion.
“I don't think it's poor leadership," O'Hare said. "I guess the way I would look at it is if I bring something up, do I have to stay until the something I brought up is resolved? That could be 20 years down the road on some things.”
In a statement, Bill Brewer, the attorney who has successfully fought the immigration ordinances so far, said O'Hare is leaving a "legacy of failed public policy" and that a changing of the guard should be positive.
Voters pick a new mayor in May.