If you ever happen to be in the Lone Star State, and the city of Plano is among your stops, be sure to stop by at City Hall to say hello to the mayor of that city. Be sure to make an appointment, because the man holding that position—Mayor Harry LaRosiliere—is a busy—very busy—man. In addition to being responsible for the operation of the ninth largest city in Texas (population of well over 265,000), he is the father of two teen LaRosilieres and husband to the City’s First Lady, Tracy LaRosiliere.
Mayor LaRosiliere was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and moved to the state of New York when he was three years old. His family settled in Harlem, and after graduating from Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, he attended the City College of New York. After earning a degree in Geology, he didn’t go off to a mine, but went into the finance industry. In the mid-1990s, he left New York for Texas.
In May of 2013, he made history by becoming the first Black mayor of Plano, and the first Haitian-American to hold that position. Prior to his election, the city had figured figured on the Best Run Cities in America, list, as selected by 24/7 Wallstreet, and he strives to keep it that way.
But, how did the Mayoring One get to where he is? What is the secret of his success? Kreyolicious.com reached out to the mayor, and he graciously made time out to give a glimpse into his life, as well as some insight into his success. He are some snippets.
You’re not related to Pè Demeran from the movie I Love You Anne, the actor Fresnel LaRosiliere, are you?
Yes, I am related to him. Anybody with the LaRosiliere name is a relative, but I’ve never met him. Most of my family live on the East Coast…in Montreal, but we do have some extended family back home.
What do you like most about living in Texas?
What I love about living in Texas is the quality of life. I’ve been a resident of Plano, Texas for nineteen years. It’s funny, I told people I had a 3-year plan, and here I am, 19 years later, the Mayor of Plano. It’s a great community, and I love being here. It’s a bit more laid back and at an easier pace than what I was used to, growing up in New York. How is Texas like Haiti? Texas is like Haiti because there are times when it can get pretty hot.
Were you always an achiever?
You know what? I never consider myself an achiever. I think life is a journey, and you just set up goals along the line. Achievement is something someone else will determine. You set goals, and you take the steps along the path. I always move forward and I just keep moving towards that goal.
Prior to becoming the Mayor of Plano, you were City Councilman, and before that, a financial advisor. Do you have any tips on how to handle finances?
My suggestion for people on handling finances is to, first of all, get into the habit of saving. Saving is a habit, just like being in debt is a habit. And having an actual long-term plan to execute, so that you can move towards the goal.
You are a graduate of City College of New York. With all the talk about the educational bubble, do you think that going to college is worth it?
Going to college is well worth it. My sister and I were the first college graduates of our family. And what I found is that education—college education—prepares you with skills that are much above and beyond what you actually learn. The skill of being independent, meeting deadlines, doing presentations—all those are things are transferable skills you’ll use in real life and beyond.
When was the last time you went to Haiti?
The last time I went to Haiti was in 1989. I went for my grandmother’s funeral. I was supposed to have been there for five days. The night before I left, they were trying to topple the government. I was stuck there for two weeks. It really taught me what freedom is all about.
Our parents practically mold us. What would you say has been the most important principle taught to you by your parents?
Work hard. Put in a honest day of work every day. Make education the cornerstone of your life.
How is your Creole?
It’s functional. To use a Haitian term, it is—Kreyol mawon—which means, if you translate it—brown Kreyol, which means, it’s bad. [Laughter] Comme ci, comme ça.
Along your journey, what have you learned about success and leadership?
Success is a journey, not a destination. I don’t ever call myself successful. I see myself succeeding at goals, but the minute I reach a goal, it’s really a stepping stone to the next goal. Leadership is something that is synonymous with responsibility for me. So, taking a leadership position means you’re accepting responsibility. The true essence of leadership is to bring other people along and create a shared vision.
Was moving to Texas from New York the scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Moving to Texas from New York was not the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Living in New York, there’s a lot of scarier things that occurred for me. Coming to Texas was actually very empowering because I came to join my then-girlfriend and now-wife, and it’s been the best decision I ever made.
Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and his wife Tracy and their two daughters.
And speaking of which, change is good. But how can one tell when one is about to make a disastrous change and a beneficial change?
You know, you don’t know when a change is going to be disastrous or beneficial. But risk is part of life. I think, ultimately, we all have a voice inside of us that lets us know when we are really going to do something wrong. I think if you listen to that voice and take its guidance, you’ll always be on the right path. Reality is, even if you listen to that voice, you will not be to able to avoid mistakes. By listening to the right things, you’ll be in the right direction, and you’ll be on that journey, towards success and your true path. I feel good about where I am in my life because I have a wonderful family. I have a beautiful wife. Two healthy daughters that are thriving in school. My success will be something—someone else will decide—when I’m long gone. I’ll know that I have succeeded in life if I’ve had a true positive impact on my daughters. That’ll be the ultimate measure for me.
[Photos: Provided by the City of Plano; family photo Gittins. Special thanks to D.D. Falls and Ethan of the City of Plano TV, for making this interview possible. ]
Be sure to check out Kreyolicious.com’s Yap Mennen/They’re Balling section.