KAUFMAN, Texas — The Kaufman County Commissioners' Court unanimously approved the formation of a 15-member Monument Citizens Commission to gather citizen input on the future of the Confederate monument at the entrance to the Kaufman County Courthouse.
In their action Tuesday, the commissioners' court unanimously approved the formation of the commission to which they will each make three appointments. The committee will be tasked with gathering information, citizen input, and ultimately making a recommendation to the court.
A majority of the citizens and elected officials who spoke during the meeting were in favor of forming the commission. Some asked for the committee appointees to be representative of the community's demographics and others calling for diverse appointments as some of the rural Kaufman County communities may not be as diverse as others.
A point made by several speakers was that the Confederate statue stood front and center of the courthouse — that those who entered may feel as though the sentiments the statue represent were embodied by those employed within or was a representation of the community at large.
The most important point, said Kaufman County Judge Hal Richards, is that those who want to express their opinion on the monument should feel like they are being heard.
The Confederate monument had sparked protests and counter-protests the past several weeks.
According to the East Texas Historical Commission, the monument was erected and dedicated in 1911 in front of the original courthouse that was built in 1887, inForney.com previously reported.
"The Confederate monument, constructed in 1911, was moved to a safe place during the demolition of the 1887 courthouse and restored to its current location once the 1956 courthouse was completed," a Texas Historical Commission paper reads.
If the commissioners' court ultimately takes action to remove the monument, they would need to notify the Texas Historical Commission in writing 180 days prior to its removal.
Because the board will be a publicly appointed body, they will be required to conduct open and public meetings which will allow additional opportunity for public comment. Each board member will also be given an email address to facilitate additional communication and comment from community members.
Commissioners are also awaiting additional legal counsel on whether there is statutory authority to allow a citizen petition to place the fate of the monument before the voters on a future ballot.
We'll continue to follow the latest on the commission as appointments are made and additional information is made available.