JONESBORO — Craighead County Judge Marvin Day defended his two choices to serve on the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library’s board of directors on Monday, saying they reflect the community.
Day nominated Michael Watkins and Whitney Hicks to serve on the board.
The Craighead County justices of the peace were to vote on the nominations Monday night at the quorum court meeting.
A display in the children’s library in June promoting Gay Pride Month has some in the community upset with the library.
“I’ve tried looking at people tied to the community,” Day said of his two nominees. “We need to have a variety of people.”
Day said he wasn’t happy with the Gay Pride display and said Hicks and Watkins would make the board more inclusive.
Those who applied for the board included Valerie Carroll, the Rev. Annie Jones, Daniel Parker, Jennifer Clack and Roseann Askeland.
In August, Hicks posted on Facebook:
“Here’s to being a voice for our Christian families! A voice for our children, to give them the freedom to explore books of their choosing, while not being smothered with worldly propaganda or the LGBTQ+ agenda. It is the parents choice to decide how their children are introduced to this community, not the Public Library’s.”
Hicks’ father is state Rep. Brandt Smith.
Day said both sides of the issue have turned up the heat about the display.
“We need to take an honest look and calm down,” he said.
In August, Mayor Harold Copenhaver’s nomination of Shalon Tate, principal of the Jonesboro Health, Wellness and Environmental Studies Magnet School, to a five-year term on the board was met with opposition. Tate’s appointment was approved by the city council.
David Eckert, director of the Craighead County Public Library, previously told The Sun it is the first time he can remember the library having problems with any displays.
“I have had 35 emails in favor of the Pride displays, and really only three people who are against it,” Eckert said in June.
“Those three people showed up in person to complain; I had two other people who called complaining,” he said.
Eckert said the library always puts out materials for Pride months.
“We put displays out for every event,” he said, noting this is a custom the library has had as long as he could remember.
The library’s board was scheduled to have a meeting Monday at 5 p.m. with 17 people on the agenda to address the board about the display issue.