November 22, 2021 6:00am

Jacksonville Power Poll: Many power players want Confederate monuments removed from city property

Movers and shaker say Confederate statues are offensive

Photo of Drew Dixon
By Drew Dixon
Jacksonville, FL Correspondent

This month’s Jacksonville Power Poll focused on the thorny issue of Confederate monuments and statues in the city. It appears the majority of the civic and business leaders in Jacksonville want all public markers for the Confederate States of America to be removed from public places.

Out of the movers and shakers who took part in November’s Power Poll, they want Jacksonville to move beyond Confederate monuments and statues and get rid of them. This month, the Jacksonville City Council voted to table action on taking down a statue in Springfield Park (formerly Confederate Park) that honors women of the Confederacy.

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Critics have been calling for removal of the statue for years. The bronze work ”Women of the Southland’ was erected in the park in 1915. Mayor Lenny Curry proposed spending $1.3 million to remove the statue and relocate it to an area not on public property.

But the council balked at the action and tabled the issue indefinitely in a vote at their Nov. 9 meeting.

The majority of Power Poll participants say they’re ready to move beyond the controversy and get rid of the statute.

When asked for their perspective on the Confederate statue in Springfield Park, 54% of those taking part in the poll say remove it already. The statue is offensive and has already caused enough controversy. Another 35% say the statue represents history and sometimes that comes with uncomfortable realities so leave it there. Another 12% said they had no opinion or weren’t sure.

Poll participants were also critical of the City Council’s decision to delay action. Some 50% said blowing the issue off just makes the situation worse and prompts more negative publicity for the city. Another 31% said it’s good the council is taking its time before a drastic move. Another 15% said the city shouldn’t waste any more time or money on the issue and leave the statue there while 4% said they’re not sure or had no opinion on the issue.

In terms of the perception of Confederate monuments or statues on city property, 46% of the poll participants say the monuments are an insult to everyone and glorify racism. Another 35% say they’re not personally offended, but understand why the monuments would upset many residents. Some 12% said the whole controversy is just more woke culture and the city needs to get over it while 8% said they’re not sure or have no opinion.

Many City Council members appear to be sensative to the nature of delaying any action on Confederate icons in Jacksonvlle. On Thursday, Nov. 18, many council members agreed in a workshop to set a timeline to grapple with the polarizing statues and monuments.

Council members concluded in the workshop to wrap up a plan to handle the Confederate icons by the summer of 2022 after reviewing options, according to a report in the Florida Times-Union. Council Member Aaron Bowman acknowledged, "We have to take it on... [and] put this all behind us."

November’s Power Poll was conducted between Nov. 15 and Nov. 18. We sent out 263 surveys to power brokers in Jacksonville through email. There were 26 people who took part in the survey, or a 9.89% response rate.

Thanks for taking part in November’s Power Poll and keep a look out for December’s questionnaire.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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