Following backlash, Tucker adds Juneteenth as paid city holiday

City of Tucker

Credit: City of Tucker

Combined ShapeCaption
City of Tucker

Credit: City of Tucker

Months after a vote failed to add Juneteenth as a paid city holiday in Tucker, city leaders reconsidered and unanimously decided to close City Hall for the holiday this year.

Two councilwomen added an item to the city’s Monday meeting agenda that would add Juneteenth, the celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S., to the city’s holiday calendar. Given that it passed, the city will have 12 paid holidays in 2022.

The vote was preceded by discussion from nearly every city leader, with some happy that Juneteenth was getting more recognition in Tucker while others begrudged the community pushback they received for voting against it previously.

“I’m fine with it, except that I think it’s been a bad process,” Mayor Frank Auman said roughly four hours into the meeting. “And there’s going to be a cost in the future for having done it in pieces and reacting instead of responding.”

Auman and several councilmembers received community backlash after they approved an 11-holiday calendar on Feb. 15 without adding Juneteenth. Councilwoman Alexis Weaver tried to add Juneteenth to the calendar at the last minute, but her motion was voted down 5-2. Councilwoman Noelle Monferdini was the other vote in favor of adding Juneteenth.

ExploreMetro Atlanta governments grapple with Juneteenth’s new holiday status

Weaver later told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she was frustrated Tucker wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of the federal, state and county governments in adding Juneteenth as a paid city holiday.

“If the state can do it, if the federal government can do it, I just think that there’s something to be said for acknowledging and closing down (the city) and saying this has a very particular meaning that we should formally acknowledge,” Weaver told the AJC last month.

Monday’s resolution was proposed by two Tucker councilmembers who previously voted against adding Juneteenth: Virginia Rece and Cara Schroeder. They called Juneteenth an “important holiday,” mentioning the months of community conversation sparked by February’s vote.

“Even if you think the process may have been late, I don’t think we’re too late,” Rece said.

Juneteenth became a controversial topic in Tucker, mirroring similar contentions in Marietta. The Cobb County city unanimously voted to add Juneteenth and Veterans Day to its paid holiday calendar in late April — roughly two weeks after the city’s mayor vetoed making Juneteenth a city holiday.

ExploreMarietta makes Juneteenth, Veterans Day paid city holidays

On Monday, Auman reiterated that he’s been disappointed by the discourse and process surrounding Juneteenth’s holiday status in Tucker.

“At some point, there’s a limit to what we can take off. We have to serve our public. There are all kind of things that figure into it more than just, ‘Is this a worthy holiday,” Auman said.

Councilman Roger Orlando agreed with Auman, adding that there are multiple factors to consider when closing City Hall. He mentioned that each paid holiday costs the city between $25,000 and $30,000.

He also emphasized that his changed vote wasn’t due to the backlash he and others received, instead saying Juneteenth’s holiday status is deserved on its own merits.

“After that (February) vote, I’ll also note that a number of us, but for some reason especially me, took withering criticism on social media and in online, so-called news media,” Orlando said. “My vote tonight... will not be based upon the loudest voice, pressure or bullying put on by certain members of the public.”

Juneteenth, which is celebrated on June 19, falls on a Sunday this year, so the holiday would be observed on June 20.