By CHARLES BOOTHE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. — Tazewell County voters have recommended leaving a Confederate statue where it is in front of the county courthouse.
An “advisory referendum” was on the ballot asking residents to either answer yes or no to the question of whether the statue should be relocated.
In on overwhelming decision, residents by a margin of 17,258 to 2,480 want to leave it where it is.
The referendum is not binding, however, and the final decision will be up to the board of supervisors after a public hearing is held.
But supervisors have said they will do what the majority of voters want.
“Whatever citizens say is where I am going,” said Southern District Supervisor Mike Hymes.
Western District Supervisor Travis Hackworth said he was concerned about where the push to remove statues and anything else that may offend will stop.
“We as a board want to hear the citizens,” he said. “We can hear and see what the will of the constituents is.”
“Let the people vote,” said Northern District Supervisor Maggie Asbury said.
Board Chair Charlie Stacy, Eastern District supervisor, said he was “delighted” when the General Assembly changed the law and gave authority back to the local level so the board can turn to residents for guidance and take action.
“As a lawyer, I could argue both sides (of the statue issue) passionately and effectively,” he said. “The best thing to do is place on the ballot as a referendum so each vote can count.”
“We will do what our people want us to do,” he said.
The issue surfaced earlier this year in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Confederate statues were placed around the southern states, including those in Tazewell, Bland and Giles counties, in the early 1900s.
Contact Charles Boothe at email@example.com.