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Jackson County voters again to decide whether to remove Andrew Jackson statues from courthouses

Although Jackson County voters in 2020 defeated a proposal to remove two statues of Andrew Jackson from in front of the Kansas City and Independence courthouses, county legislators refuse to take no for an answer.

The move has led many Jackson County residents to say the legislature is out of touch as homeowners experience skyrocketing property tax increases. Some home property taxes are doubling under new assessments.

Yet, say many, the county legislature seems obsessed with removing statues of a man for whom the county is actually named.

In a 7-1 vote, the county Legislature last week approved a resolution to start the process of removing and storing the statues of the county’s namesake and installing a statue of Harry S. Truman at the courthouse in downtown Kansas City. Some say the move is illegal in light of the 2020 referendum where 72% of residents voted to keep the statues.

Democrat Manuel Abarca IV introduced a resolution that would authorize the awarding of contracts to remove the statues. The resolution said it is in the “moral interest” of Jackson County, which is named after the former president, to remove the statues “so as to not accidentally bestow honor on individuals who were engaged in the genocide of indigenous groups or proponents of slavery.”

The resolution notes that Jackson, who was president from 1829 to 1837, owned slaves. It also mentions that more than 430 confederate monuments and memorials have been removed across the nation as of May. The resolution authorizes County Executive Frank White to award contracts for the removal and storage of the statues as well as for site repairs of damage created by the removals.

Several procedural steps remain before the statues can actually be removed, said Caleb Clifford, chief of staff for the Jackson County executive’s office. The resolution calls for the issue to be placed before voters on the November 2024 ballot. To do that, the Legislature will need to pass an ordinance placing the issue on the ballot, he said. There’s ample time — more than a year — for the necessary legislation to be crafted and ratified, Clifford said.

“As we approach the election, the administration will work with the Legislature to develop estimates concerning the removal and storage of the existing statues, costs for the new statue, as well as create renderings of the sites,” he said. “This information is designed to equip voters with a comprehensive understanding for making their decision.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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