The motion failed 4-2.
The resolution was two-fold. It first asked to place a historic plaque next to the statue which stands at the entrance of the county courthouse in Georgetown to allow for further contextual information on the statue. The resolution also asked the statue be relocated to either IOOF cemetery in Georgetown where more than 100 Confederate soldier lie or for the formation of a committee comprised of local historians, artists and community leaders, to oversee the creation and implementation of an educational and historic plan for the outdoor area surrounding the courthouse.
Dozens of residents spoke on the issue both in favor and against, but ultimately the council voted against the resolution not in favor for the statue to remain but for the precedent it would set.
“This is not within [council’s] purview,” Council Member Steve Fought said. “This is a very worthwhile topic and I think there are many of us on the council that would support the idea of that statue not being on the Square. The Civil War is not the dominate issue in the history of Georgetown and a statue of the Civil War ought not dominate the center of Georgetown. But it’s the precedent of taking that on that invites so many other things.”
Council Member Kevin Pitts agreed, saying that since the statue is on county property it is up to the commissioners to decide how to handle the issue and a resolution would do nothing other than be an elected body attempting to direct another elected body.
He added that passing the resolution would be bad governance and that city council should only focus on the business of the city and to what the city can change.
“This is not about a statue. This is about one elected body trying to tell another elected body what to do,” Pitts said. “It’s been our standard practice here on the city council that we do not issue non-legislative resolutions on the political issue of the day. We do not bring national politics to the city of Georgetown.”
Jonrowe and Calixtro, however, believed now is the best time to put forth the resolution and that the council should not shy away from issues because they are controversial but stand on the right side of history.
“These Confederate remnants represent no values of ours,” Jonrowe said. “Rather for a growing number of people they are a symbol of systemic racism, injustice, oppression and pain. ... I believe there is growing consensus on either to contextualize or remove and replace symbols like this Confederate statue.”
The statue has been of some contention in recent weeks. Protestors have requested it be removed while counter-protestors believe it should stay as a reminder of history. They claim removing the statue will only let history be forgotten when instead it should be remembered so as not to be repeated.
Those who want it removed say it is a symbol of oppression, inequality, slavery and a monument to those who betrayed the country. They add that the statue and those like it are offensive and there is no place for them in public spaces in modern times. Instead, they say it should be removed or moved to more appropriate locations like a museum.
In order for the commissioners court to vote on the item it must appear on the agenda, which must first be sponsored by a commissioner, County Judge Bill Gravell told Community Impact Newspaper. He added that he would not be the one to do so.