Not even close: Confederate flag stays

Nathan Cobb | 315-4432 | @WaltonSunNate |
After Tuesday's midterm elections, around 65 percent of Walton County voters were in favor of letting the seven-star flag of the Confederacy continue to fly in front of the courthouse. [FILE PHOTO]

The voters of Walton County have spoken.

The seven-star Confederate flag will continue to fly on the grounds of the Walton County Courthouse.

A referendum on Tuesday's ballot asked if the Confederate flag should continue to fly on public property at the courthouse in DeFuniak Springs.

Nearly 65 percent voted that it should remain. The referendum required a simple majority to pass.

County officials have said the Confederate battle flag — the most well-known Confederate flag with the blue "X" with white stars and a red background — had flown at the courthouse before July 2015, but in an attempt to compromise with residents on both sides of the issue, that flag was replaced with the seven-star flag of the Confederacy.

As of Wednesday morning, Walton County spokesman Louis Svehla said that he hadn't received any calls on the matter or heard of any other county officials who had either.

Mike Bowden, the vice chair of the Democratic Executive Committee of Walton County, said Wednesday he couldn't understand why the county would want to keep the constant Confederate reminder.

"We were certainly disappointed," he said on behalf of the Committee on Justice, Equality and Fairness of Walton County. "The decision to support keeping the flag is an embarrassment to Walton County and certainly very bad for Walton County in the eyes of the rest of the country."

Others, like Danny Glidewell, a recently elected county commissioner, said he believed the reason 65 percent of voters were in favor of keeping the flag was because of its link to southern history.

"At the end of the day, it was the people's decision, the people made it, and it's time to move on," Glidewell said.

Regardless of the verdict, Svehla said he was pleased with Tuesday's voter turnout, which was above average.

"Countywide, having almost 61 percent of the people turn up to vote in a midterm election is fantastic," Svehla said. "It's a great reflection on Walton County to be able to have a populous that wants to come out and vote and have their voices heard."

Northwest Florida Daily News reporter Tony Judnich contributed to this report.