The mayor of New Carlisle asked the three candidates who applied for a vacant council seat how they felt about elected officials kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance.
New Carlisle Mayor Ethan Reynolds, a Republican who’s said repeatedly that he is a proud conservative, asked New Carlisle council applicants Amy Hopkins, Becky McKenzie and Kathy Wright about kneeling during their interviews held Monday.
“I asked everyone the same question,” Reynolds said. “If it is going to happen, and it is happening in other places, I want to know their opinion. I would never support anyone who would feel that it would be OK to kneel during the Pledge of Allegiance and I asked the question.”
The New Carlisle City Council will try to select a new member tonight to replace Aaron Leighty. Leighty resigned after moving out of the city. A majority vote by the council is needed to make a selection.
Reynolds said news reports of council members across the country kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance prompted him to ask the question. Last month, a Haddam, Connecticut councilwoman took a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance further sparking a nationwide debate.
Some Ann Arbor, Mich. council members took a knee in 2017 during the pledge. Also in 2017, some New York City Council members took a knee.
Taking a knee during the national anthem was made popular by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as a way to protestinjustice against minorities in America. Many people support the action as a right protected by free speech, while many others feel it is disrespectful to the military.
No one has knelt during New Carlisle’s recitation of the pledge before council meetings.
“I think it has everything to do with our city,” Reynolds said. “Because if it can happen there it can happen here. This is a proud veteran-based community. Our community is a Purple Heart city and we have the absolute respect for our country and our flag.”
McKenzie said she applied because she’s attended meetings regularly over the last 18 months.
“I want to get the voices of the younger generation in town,” she said. “I feel like we aren’t being heard. And the only way we are going to be heard is if we have someone up there.”
She said during her interview, she expected Reynolds to ask her about issues facing New Carlisle and instead was surprised at the question about the pledge.
“I just don’t understand why that was the question he decided to ask,” McKenzie said. “I just didn’t understand how that had to do with this process.”
She said she respects the troops and the flag but doesn’t believe the question was relevant.
“I think he was trying to get me to answer a controversial question and I don’t think that question had any place in the interview,” she said.
If someone did kneel, she said she would want to open up a dialog with them to find out their concerns.
The New Carlisle city council will face a number of important decisions for residents, she said and that should be the focus when selecting a new candidate.
“It is important for us to move forward and work together,” she said. “The biggest issue is we are having a lack of communication and a lack of professionalism. I just feel like we don’t have enough informed citizens and I hope that we are able to get people more informed. I feel like it’s a problem that when we have issues going on in the city, we are not reaching out to all kinds of individuals that live here.”
Wright said she found the question random but said she wouldn’t want any kneeling during the pledge during council meetings.
There is a lot of fighting during council meetings she said, and if selected she will try to mediate and stop the bickering.
“We need somebody who is calm and steady and that is how I see myself,” she said. “I see myself as a people person and I think that is what the council needs. Able to listen to a variety of opinions. I am very open. You get what you see with me.”
Amy Hopkins was unable to be reached Wednesday.