The council received a presentation on this advisory board at a July 21 work session. The presentation was a follow-up from a previous work session’s discussion, triggered by current events that have generated conversation about the culture, race and history in McKinney. This included the statue of James W. Throckmorton at the McKinney Performing Arts Center, according to meeting documents.
During the July 21 work session, city staff presented a resolution for an ad hoc advisory board that would provide a recommendation to the council regarding the proposed removal of the statue.
The advisory board would review and assemble information pertinent to the statue, such as its history and the context for it, and incorporate public input, which would be gathered in a variety of formats, including in-person hearings, staff said. The board would also review available options for the statue, which include leaving the statue in place as is with additional signage or paired with other monuments, or relocating the statue under city ownership or new ownership to a different private or public property, according to meeting documents.
City staff proposed 11 total members for the board, with seven appointed by the mayor and council. In addition, one member would be from the McKinney Arts Commission, one from the Historic Preservation Advisory board, one from the Main Street board and one from the Collin County Historical Commission.
Members from these boards and commissions would be represented by the chair of the respective group, or they would nominate a representative, according to meeting documents. Mayor George Fuller would designate a chair for the advisory board.
Had City Council approved the resolution, board appointments would be made in August, which would lead to the research and analysis of the statue. The first meeting of the board would have been held in September, and the second meeting would have been in October, with subsequent meetings held in November.
The findings of the advisory board would have been presented to the council no later than Dec. 1, staff said. A decision regarding the statue would be made before the end of the year.
Following this presentation, Council Member La’Shadion Shemwell said he was against the advisory board and the proposed timeline. He said the timeline for action on the item was too long. With his upcoming recall election in November, he might not be on the council to represent McKinney residents during this discussion, he said.
“I think this time frame is too long,” he said. “If [the recall election] takes place Nov. 3 and I’m not successful or my lawyers are not successful in my lawsuit and I am not here to represent my constituents in this matter, as the only African American that sits on this council, then that’s the representation that is no longer here to represent the other Black voices that have a real vested interest in seeing this statue be removed here from the city. And so I’m proposing that this be done by the end of September.”
Fuller said he felt it was important to have a conversation about the statue that is based in honesty and said he was in favor of the proposed process for the advisory board. When the item was brought forward for action at the council meeting later that evening, however, Shemwell again voiced his opposition to the advisory board.
“It’s highly disappointing and discouraging to look at my council peers and to feel dismissed,” Shemwell said.
Fuller disagreed and said no one was being dismissed.
“I don’t subscribe to the thought that engaging the whole community is disrespecting anybody, is ignoring anybody. It’s actually what we’re required to do,” Fuller said.
At this point, he was cut off by Shemwell, who said he was not done speaking. This led to a brief recess. Upon returning, Fuller made a motion to adjourn the meeting.
“This meeting will not be hijacked,” Fuller said before making his motion. “We are going to have this discussion when we can have the discussion respectfully.”
The next City Council work session is scheduled for July 28.