Oktibbeha County supervisors are not scheduled to discuss whether to remove the Mississippi state flag from county-owned property Monday, but board members say they’ll deal with the issue if it’s forced.
Supervisors routinely address topics that are not listed on the agenda during a section of each meeting reserved for county business. Just because an issue is not listed for discussion doesn’t mean a board representative won’t bring it forward for talks or a vote.
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery, District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer and District 3 Supervisor agree the county has bigger issues to tackle than the state flag controversy but said they’d settle the issue at the table if it emerges.
Only District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams said he’d vote to remove the flag if the motion was presented.
A call to District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson went unreturned Thursday and Friday.
“Tentatively, it’s not on the agenda, but it could come up at the last minute,” Trainer said. “I, personally, don’t have a problem with removing it, but at the same time it takes more than one vote to do something. If it comes up, we’ll tackle it. I don’t want us to get into a big to-do about the situation, one where emotions run high and discussions become heated.”
All five supervisors face re-election bids this year. Tuesday’s Democratic primary will decide who will represent Districts 2 and 5, while District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson, Howard and Montgomery face opponents in November’s general election.
The possibility of swinging the electorate on the heels of Tuesday’s election could stifle any action on the flag.
“Our community is a little different than others,” Trainer said in reference to 2001’s statewide referendum.
In that election, a majority of Mississippians voted to preserve the flag. Oktibbeha County voters, however, went against the statewide decision.
“Oktibbeha County usually goes in a progressive direction. We’ve always just been different,” he added. “Like anything else, the board just tries to do its best at the end of the day.”
Starkville became the latest Mississippi city to choose not to fly the state flag above municipal buildings with a 4-3 vote Tuesday.
Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn called for its removal after the June murders of African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.
Tuesday’s vote mostly followed racial lines as three African-American aldermen deadlocked against three of the board’s four white representatives. It was Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker’s — the board’s fourth white member — swing vote that broke the tie.
Three county supervisors — Howard, Trainer and Williams — are African-American, while Jackson and Montgomery are white.
Columbus councilmen also voted to remove the flag from city property one week prior.
West Point Mayor Robbie Robinson previously said his city has never flown the flag above city-owned properties.
Lowndes County supervisors also told The Dispatch they’re unlikely to take up the issue in the future.
Miss. Code 3-3-15 says the state flag “may be displayed from all public buildings.”
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch