By Sharon Wisch-Ray
According to Ann Bacchus, Plano City Council Place 7 candidate, she has nothing but admiration and support for the Jewish people and Israel, and the proof is her record of the last 20 years.
Bacchus spoke with the TJP by phone Sunday, May 26.
“If I’m elected, you will never find that I did anything or will do anything to hurt the Jewish community or the Muslim community or any community,” the candidate said.
Ann Bacchus, a native of British Guyana who has lived in Plano 20 years, will face opponent Lily Bao, a Chinese immigrant, in a runoff Saturday, June 8. Early voting is underway.
In the last several weeks, several members of the Jewish community have questioned Bacchus’ ideology after learning she attended a fundraiser Nov. 2 for then-candidate Ilhan Omar before the midterm election. The freshman Democrat won her House seat and represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.
Since the election, Omar, more than once, has tweeted anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic tropes, which led to a U.S. House resolution March 7 condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hate including Islamophobia.
Rumblings of Bacchus’ alleged anti-Semitism began to surface in the last few weeks.
“We first heard (from) a number of other people that she had participated in a fundraiser for Ilhan Omar,” said Eric Fine, who lives in Bacchus’ area of representation. “We wanted to make sure that it happened — that it was real and that it happened.”
Fine and others, set out to get clarification from Bacchus and her campaign.
They posted on Facebook, both Bacchus’ page and their own pages. They reached out to Bacchus’ campaign.
It seemed to them that Bacchus was ignoring their requests, and posts on her page asking for clarification were being deleted.
Their frustration and suspicion grew.
“I wrote to her on her Facebook page because I saw other people would write and she would ‘like’ it and respond to them. Then my posts ended up disappearing. Ann Bacchus responded and replied to every other question on her page, but deleted mine,” said Arona Ackermann.
She explained that she had no preconceived notions about Bacchus and started to do some research.
“I looked at every public offering I could find about who she is and what she stands for. I was heartened to see that she was interviewing adults and children alike, that she was getting her hands dirty. I saw she went to the Chabad of Plano Eva Schloss event. Then I put that together with this image that has gone around with her and Ilhan Omar at the same event.”
Bacchus explained her attendance at the event to the TJP.
“My reason for going to Ilhan Omar’s event was because she was a woman and a refugee… that resonated with me.”
Bacchus said that she doesn’t support Omar’s ideology.
“I am not aligned with Ilhan Omar in any form or in any way. I went to one event. There was a picture taken. I don’t appreciate that she’s put Islam under attack. We (Jews and Muslims) are both under attack.”
When asked if she supports BDS, Bacchus responded.
“You don’t separate Israel from the Jews. I would not support any boycott.”
Bacchus believes that her opponent Bao has used her attendance of the Nov. 2 to incite criticism against her.
“I think my opponent is using this, because there’s nothing else. I have more broad base than any other person.”
She explained that she believes the Bao camp has created collages of material that are being circulated about her that she has had nothing to do with.
When asked if she had anything to do with promoting Bacchus as anti-Semitic, Bao said, “No.”
Bao denied any involvement in producing or distributing anti-Bacchus literature.
“We run positive campaigns. I intend to represent all residents of the city when I get elected. I believe my love for Plano and Texas as well as my vision of ‘family, freedom and prosperity’ will be recognized and cheered as we work even harder to let the voters know who I am and what I will do for them,” Bao added via text.
Bacchus said that her history of involvement in Plano speaks for itself.
“I hope that people are able to look at the person themselves and see what they’ve done. There are many of us who go to an event especially if it’s for a woman. I went to the event because I was invited by another friend. People should look at me and see what I have done. You cannot come up with anything on me until you come up with the fact that I attended this one event.
“I think Lily and her supporters are trying to separate me from my Jewish supporters and the Jewish community, but what she doesn’t realize is that my support didn’t just happen because of an election. It’s happened because of years of making Plano better.”
Barry Hersh said, if true, he’s relieved to hear what some of Bacchus’ answers were. He was frustrated after his posts in relation to the Nov. 2 event on Bacchus’ Facebook page were taken down or called “fake news.”
“I wish I’d known that she was a supporter of Israel and the Jewish people,” he said. I probably would have campaigned for her.”