Cookeville Vice-Mayor Laurin Wheaton said she feels more community dialogue needs to take place on the topic of race.
Wheaton said that although she is sympathetic to Councilman Mark Miller’s concerns over Confederate symbols on city property, she feels like more discussion is needed to help keep the community united.
“The way I want to do that is by coming together,” Wheaton said. “I want more than just a little action here or there. I want to sit down with other leaders in our community and have this discussion. I want to hear other people’s experiences from Cookeville because I’m not from Cookeville originally.”
Wheaton said she hopes to gain an understanding of other people’s experience in Cookeville.
“I don’t have the same experience as other people who have lived here,” Wheaton said. “And people with other ethnicities and races have different experiences in Cookeville than I do. I want to hear from them and see how we can come together as a community to make these decisions. Unfortunately, what I think is going to happen with this is that it is becoming more divisive. I don’t think that’s how you solve problems.”
The Cookeville City Council met in a work session Monday night. At that work session the city council decided not to consider resolutions about Confederate symbols on city property or monuments at Cookeville City Cemetery. It was decided the issues could likely be addressed through administrative means.
A few hours after the meeting Miller called for the removal of the Sons of Confederate Veteran’s monument at the city cemetery based on the memorial being in violation of the SVC’s contract with Cookeville City Cemetery for a cemetery plot.
Wheaton said she respects Miller’s position, but she would not have handled the response the way he did.
“I probably would have done it differently, for sure,” Wheaton said. “But that’s also the great thing about having five people on the city council. We have different viewpoints, we have different ways of thinking, and so, if someone does something differently, that’s up to them to do it that way.”
Miller said he plans to readdressing the Confederate monument issue at Thursday night’s Cookeville City Council Meeting.