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Kerr County commissioners vote 3-1 to allow the courthouse to be lit to support Ukraine

Judge Rob Kelly abstains from the vote, Commissioner Belew votes against the plan.

The Kerr County Commissioner's Court voted 3-1, with Judge Rob Kelly abstaining, to allow the courthouse to be lighted blue and yellow in support of Ukraine.

The request, made by Irene Van Winkle, led to a broader discussion about the appropriateness of using the court or the courthouse for political conversations.

Kelly was careful to say it wasn't because of his lack of empathy for Ukraine, but he wanted to draw a line on political statements. A longtime Kerr County journalist, Van Winkle told the court she could raise the money to pay for the lights.

"I have a lot of community support," Van Winkle said.

The commissioners balked at committing county resources against the plan, and Harley Belew, the Precinct 1 commissioner, made it clear he didn't like it.

"I don't like the virtue signaling, and who knows what is going to happen with this, how long it's going to go on," Belew said. "We're going to support it for a week, and then we're not going to care about it anymore.

"I know you have a good heart," Belew told Van Winkle. "Putting lights on this building won't do a damn thing about it."

In recent months, citizens have asked the court to support a wide range of initiatives, including one recently that backed private education. Kelly said he received feedback from area superintendents that it felt like an attack on public education.

"Everybody knows this abominable, and everyone knows this is a travesty," Kell said of Russia's assault on Ukraine. "We're on the brink of world war over a man's vanity and pride. My concern is that I share with Commissioner Belew is not the cause. I support the cause completely. I'm concerned what this is it continues the invitation to bring their personal agendas, oftentimes political agendas, to the court for some sort of gratification."

In the end, Commissioners Don Harris, Jonathan Letz and Beck Gibson voted to approve the idea. Belew voted against it.


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