Kerr County says no to Juneteenth as county holiday

A 2-2 tie kills the proposal to add the holiday to the county's calendar.

The Kerr County Commissioner's Court failed to enact Juneteenth as a holiday for county workers when the motion to approve it ended in a 2-2 deadlock.

With Precinct 2 Commissioner Beck Gibson absent, the motion failed when Precinct 4 Commissioner Don Harris and Precinct 3 Commissioner Jonathan Letz voted against it. Precinct 1 Commissioner Harley Belew and Judge Rob Kelly voted for it.

The holiday marks the June 19, 1865, announcement by federal troops to enslaved Blacks of Texas that they were free and the Civil War was at an end. By the time of the order, Texas was home to more than 250,000 enslaved Blacks, including about 50 in Kerr County. Other Confederate states moved thousands of enslaved people to Texas during the war.


Texas made June 19 a state holiday in 1980. Other states slowly followed suit, and the day garnered federal recognition last year.

The most straightforward decision was that there are already too many holidays, at least that's what Letz said. The longtime commissioner said he thought one should be removed and was satisfied with keeping the county's current schedule.

During the debate about Juneteenth in the U.S. Senate, some Republican senators proposed dropping Columbus Day to accommodate the new holiday. After Juneteenth was adopted, some cities and counties did precisely that — dropping Columbus Day.

Harris asked County Attorney Heather Stebbins if they had to accept another "federal holiday being shoved down their throats."

Kelly answered that question by saying, "we decide our own holidays."

As a federal holiday, Juneteenth observances mean banks, the post office and federal offices are closed. Dawn Lantz, Kerr County's clerk of district courts, reminded the commissioners that the county does considerable financial transactions and other duties, including U.S. passports, when others will be closed.

The county will maintain honoring the fiercely debated Columbus Day Holiday, which marks the discovery of the New World by Italian-born Christopher Columbus. However, Native Americans fiercely oppose this holiday as a tribute to colonization and genocide. In some parts of the U.S. Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated on the same day as Columbus Day.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top