Before the July 20 Baldwin County Commissioners meeting, a public hearing was held to discuss the potential renaming of the Baldwin County Governmental Annex. Citizens attended the meeting in support of three different nominations, but questions about the overall process created tension.
Before the public hearing, three nominations were presented, all with their respective ties to the Baldwin County Community.
The NAACP Branch nominated former County Commissioner Oscar Davis Sr. of Baldwin County. One of the most notable supporters to speak on behalf of the building being renamed after Davis was former mayor Floyd L. Griffin Jr.
While Griffin made it clear that he supported the renaming of the governmental building after Davis, he took time to question the policy in place for naming the building.
“What I want to talk about is the process,” he said. “Any governmental facility such as this, the county, should be named after a person who has worked with, or a commissioner, who has worked at the facility.”
Davis was the only nomination that was once a Commissioner for Baldwin County. Davis was the first black man elected to the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners in 1984.
In March 2021, the NAACP presented a formal request to consider naming the building after Davis. During Tuesday’s public hearing, Cynthia Ward-Edwards, president of the local NAACP branch, shared that the group has also produced a petition supporting the naming after Davis.
Another petition was brought before the County Commissioner, this one to name the building after former Georgia Legislator Rusty Kidd.
Jimmy Ivey of Ivey-Weaver Road spoke on behalf of the petition in support of Kidd.
“If you ever asked him to do something for you, he either did it, or he tried to do it,” he said. “If he didn’t do it, it was because he would try his best, no matter who you were or where you’re from.”
Kidd represented the Milledgeville area as a state representative for eight years before deciding not to run for re-election in 2016.
The third nomination was to name the building after William J. Usery Jr. The nomination was presented by Mike Couch. He admits many may not be familiar with the name Usery.
“Most in the room have probably never met Usery,” he said.
The Hardwick native served under two presidential administrations. Usery is also an alumnus of Georgia Military College.
In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed Usery as the assistant secretary of labor for labor-management relations. Usery was responsible for settling a wide range of labor disputes under the Nixon and Ford administrations.
Once someone spoke on behalf of the three nominations at hand, the motion was moved to close the meeting and move to the regular session but not before one question caused increased concern in the room.
“We know that the NAACP voted for Mr. Davis, but for my record and the public record, who were the two people that sent their names for Rusty Kidd and Secretary of Labor William Usery?” asked Commissioner Kendrick Butts.
At that moment, many were unclear as to whether or not Kidd had a formal nomination or not.
“Where did the petition come from?” questioned Commissioner Butts before a series of questions about the validity of the nomination arose.
County Manager Carlos Tobar said all of the nominations were formally made.
“The county attorney and I reviewed the documentation, and it met the requirement,” he said.
Tobar is now responsible for creating a report for the commissioner on the nominations. Once he completes his report, commissioners will hold another public meeting where at least three commissioners must vote in support of one of the nominations. The board will then have a formal vote at a later time.