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Denton County Commissioner Mitchell says Confederate monument will be on future agenda

The saga surrounding the Confederate monument on the downtown Square in Denton continues.

Denton County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell said Tuesday that the monument would be placed on a meeting agenda in the "very near" future.

Denton County Precinct Commissioner Bobbie MitchellDRC file photo
Denton County Precinct Commissioner Bobbie Mitchell
DRC file photo

For the last four weeks, dozens of people have shown up to Commissioners Court meetings to argue for the monument's removal. Many have asked for commissioners to simply put the topic on the agenda for discussion. During two recent meetings, public comment has lasted an hour and half.

Last month's violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, re-energized the national conversation surrounding Confederate statues. Some people feel they represent racism, while others believe removing the statues would be an attempt to erase or revise history. Weekly protests have been held around Denton's statue, both for and against its removal.

Other Texas cities, such as Dallas and San Antonio, have ordered the immediate removal of their own Confederate monuments.

After Tuesday's commissioners meeting, Mitchell did not directly say whether she's in favor of the Denton statue's removal. As the Commissioners Court's only African-American member, Mitchell said the monument doesn't personally offend her, but she wants to put on the agenda for a vote.

"When I vote on it — and we will put it on the agenda at some point in time — you'll know which way I [stand] on it," Mitchell said. "But it will be a positive vote ... for the citizens."

Mitchell represents Precinct 3, which includes Flower Mound, Lewisville, Highland Village, Lake Dallas and Hickory Creek.

Mitchell later added that "the statue is not racist. It's the people around the statue that are racist," though she would not elaborate specifically who she meant. 

County Judge Mary Horn did not attend Tuesday's meeting because she took a "personal day," according to county Administration Director Kate Lynass.

Horn has previously said that she doesn't plan to put the item on the meeting agenda. However, individual commissioners and county department heads can put any item on the agenda for discussion, as long as it pertains to county business, Lynass said.

Individual commissioners may also remove any item on the consent agenda for discussion and action. 

"One of us will put [the monument] on the agenda in the near future ... very near," Mitchell said. 

Commissioners need a simple majority vote to pass an item on the agenda. 

Horn believes the monument should stay put, saying in earlier meetings that it's "for the soldiers." Commissioner Hugh Coleman, whose Precinct 1 includes Denton, Sanger, Corinth and Frisco, said he's also in favor of leaving the statue alone.

"The Confederate memorial, to me, is for Confederate veterans," Coleman said. "I don't think it's a symbol of racism. I think it's extremely dismissive when people say it's your white privilege."

Commissioner Ron Marchant of Precinct 2 said in a prepared statement that he's still torn on the issue.

"A debate goes on in my own soul and mind on what is the appropriate way to handle the preservation of the solders' memorial without creating a divide within the community of Denton County," said Marchant, whose precinct includes Carrollton, The Colony and Frisco.

A phone call to Commissioner Andy Eads of Precinct 4, which includes Argyle, Bartonville, Ponder and a portion of Denton, was not returned by Tuesday evening.

JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.