The Times-Union asked all 19 council members to discuss their positions on removing confederate monuments and markers. Here are their responses.
Joyce Morgan said she supported the idea. “I’m just so saddened by everything I watched this weekend…The fight against racism is ongoing. It’s been ongoing. It’s being waged on so many fronts. This is one of those fronts…It’s a process. I believe it’s a process that has to be fully vetted. I don’t think we should do anything hastily. We don’t give way to emotion or hasty retaliation. This is where we have an opportunity to be real leaders…You’ve got to be steadfast on all of it and consider everything.
Al Ferraro didn’t respond.
Aaron Bowman said he wants the council to discuss the issue before making a decision.”I strongly believe we need to have a dialogue. I want to understand why people are offended. I want to understand why people want them to stay up. I want our city to be an open and welcoming city, but I also want to have a balance with our history…With our central city park, having a confederate statue probably speaks much louder now after seeing what people we’re doing in Charlottesville.”
Scott Wilson said he wants to learn more about the specific monuments in Jacksonville before deciding whether to relocate them. “Why were they placed to begin with? Why was that person honored or recognized? … I need to understand more about it. It’s a complicated issue, there are passionate pleas on both sides, and I think it’s something we’d have to hear from both sides, hear from the historical society…I’ve always thought about them as historical monuments. I’ve never put a lot of thought into the racism aspect of it. I certainly don’t support any sort of racism or discrimination.”
Matt Schellenberg said he doesn’t support relocating the monuments. “Absolutely not. This is history. Part of history is learning from history and not making the same mistake. No one is perfect. All human beings are flawed, and we should recognize that…I think when we capitulate to a small group of people to change what was history is unforgivable. We need to move on.”
Reginald Gaffney didn’t respond.
Katrina Brown didn’t respond.
Garrett Dennis said he supports relocating the monuments. This summer, Dennis attended a community seminar on civil rights hosted by the local FBI field office. He said an FBI agent told the group, which included local clergy and nonprofit leaders, that Jacksonville was essentially a tinderbox. “They’ve shared that our city is one incident away from becoming a Ferguson, from Charlottesville. Whatever we can do to not let that happen here, we need to do. I think one step is moving our monuments to a place where it’s appropriate.”
Reginald Brown said he supports relocating the monuments. “I do think it’s time to follow the path of others and do what’s right in Jacksonville…I just hope we can move forward as a community and take care of business.”
Danny Becton didn’t respond.
Doyle Carter didn’t respond.
Bill Gulliford said he opposed relocating the monuments, as well as the way Brosche announced her proposal. “She seems to be coming up with more things to divide us than unite us. Everyone knows this is a hot issue. If I were in her position, I would wait on somebody on the council to bring it up. I certainly wouldn’t bring it up without any feeling of the council, without any sense of how people feel about it…I think when you start to sanitize history you do your future generations a disservice.”Gulliford said he opposed relocating the monuments, as well as the way Brosche announced her proposal. “She seems to be coming up with more things to divide us than unite us. Everyone knows this is a hot issue. If I were in her position, I would wait on somebody on the council to bring it up. I certainly wouldn’t bring it up without any feeling of the council, without any sense of how people feel about it…I think when you start to sanitize history you do your future generations a disservice.”
Jim Love said he was “shocked” by Brosche’s announcement and wanted to discuss the idea with his colleagues and the community before making a decision. “I want to hear all the arguments…I think I understand both sides. I may not. There may be some nuances that I haven’t heard. Right now I’m in the learning stages. Let’s see what the cost is. There could be damage involved…I’m open, and I want to hear good ideas…This is something that needs to be dealt with, but I just hope we can do it in a civilized manner.”
John Crescimbeni said he supports discussing the idea, but that he has concerns about consistency. “I support having a conversation about it. I think that’s important…I just want to be sure that whatever policy we migrate towards is comprehensive and not selective to certain periods of history. This country is riddled with a history of bad behavior towards a number of social groups, and I would rather develop a policy that didn’t tolerate any of that rather than singling out recognition of a period of history.”
Tommy Hazouri said in a written statement that he supports relocating the statues. “I support the statements of Council President Brosche. These monuments are part of our history but make many feel unsafe and uncomfortable. But I believe we, as a council, owe it to the City for a safe, public forum to discuss this.”
Greg Anderson said he wants to listen to the debate before making a decision. “Earlier this afternoon, Council President Brosche issued a directive. There will be time to debate that legislation. I’ll listen to both sides with an open mind, and at the conclusion, any decision made will be with the best interests of Jacksonville in mind…Our history as a community is important. So that’s sort of my back drop, but I understand that it is a very difficult issue for a part of our community. It’s an issue that reminds some people of a very troubled issue that this country dealt with in a very violent way. I understand both sides, and I think it’s important that the community have an opportunity to hear each other.”
Sam Newby didn’t respond.