Commissioners approve resolution asking that new flag, seal decision be rescinded

Published 6:41 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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Commissioners ask that decision be opened up for more public input

The Mower County Board of Commissioners, during their meeting Tuesday morning, unanimously approved a resolution asking Gov. Tim Walz, as well as Mower’s legislative delegation to reject the new Minnesota flag and seal  through the work of the State Emblems Redesign Commission.

Commissioners took issue with the way the process of determining the flag was carried out, as well as citing in the resolution negative feedback of the public and that elected legislative officials should have been overseeing the process.

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Mower County Administrator Trish Harren Gjersik said that the county was never notified of how exactly the process would be carried out and that Mower County had already established its budget for the year.

“Statewide, this is a huge unfunded mandate,” she said and went on to say that there was a lack of communication to go along with the lack of public input.

Photos courtesy of the State Emblems Redesign Commission.

The resolution states that the county asks Walz to reject the process in order to allow more public and local government input and to address the cost implications that will be placed on governmental bodies in the replacement of flags and seals.

The resolution goes on to request that if the decision is made to continue forward with the new design, that local units of government be given additional time to comply and be given funding to implement the replacements.

Harren Gjersik said that it could cost the county an estimated $15,000 to replace all of the flags and seals in Mower County.

The commission settled on the new flag design, featuring a white star on a dark and light blue background, in December of last year, however since then there has been a steady flow of backlash.

In the months that have followed, Crow Wing, Douglas, Houston, McLeod and Nobles counties have come out against the process, while Fillmore Central has sent a letter indicating their own concerns to the state.

There is also a connection to Minnesota’s past that opponents refer to, indicating that the current flag hearkens back to the heritage in farming as well as Native American history, however, supporters of replacing the flag also argue that the flag, which depicts a Native American riding away in the background while a settler settles the land in the foreground, has racist components and should be changed.

Some Republicans in the Minnesota State Legislature have indicated that they will put a bill forward this session that would put the new design up for a vote in November, which would allow for more public input.

In an interview with WCCO CBS News, Walz pushed back saying he continued to stand behind the flag and that it resembles 19 other flags across the country.

Unless the legislature takes action on the issue, the current flag will be effective through May 11, 2024.