State Rep. Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, said he thinks his split vote on the state flag issue took all of his constituency into consideration.
Turner, who represents part of Union County, voted against a resolution that allowed the flag change bill to be introduced. But the resolution to introduce the bill passed with a super-majority vote.
Once the actual bill to change the flag was put up to a vote, Turner voted in favor of changing the flag.
Turner, who has been in the Legislature for 17 years, said he has heard from constituents over the years that they should be allowed to vote on the state flag. He said he was “often reminded” that the people voted to keep the flag in 2001.
He said he was “encouraged” by constituents to not take their vote away from them.
“They felt like that belonged to them,” Turner said.
Voters felt like it was their “privilege” and not the Legislature’s to decide whether to change the flag, said Turner.
That is why he voted against the resolution that allowed the state flag bill to be introduced.
“That was the only avenue we had to maintain the grip of the public on changing the flag,” Turner said.
He said he was acting on behalf of his constituency.
When the actual bill to change the flag came up, he voted in favor of changing the flag. At that point, it was time to “unite behind what we had,” Turner said. That was the right thing for a “statesman” to do, he said, adding, “now it’s time to unite.”
He thinks a new flag, which cannot contain the Confederate battle emblem, can help unite the state.
“It’s going to do away with one divisive issue that we have at the point,” he said.
He said he likes the fact that the new state flag must say, “In God We Trust” and that the new design must be approved by the voters.
“I think my vote speaks for itself, and I think it’s a logical vote,” Turner said. “I think it’s one that took all my constituency into consideration. The two votes together considered all my constituency.”