KINGSBURG — It took over four hours of testimony May 19 before the Kingsburg City Council to decide whether to place a rainbow flag up at City Hall.
The proposal died, without a second.
Dozens of residents, mostly from Kingsburg, spoke on the issue in person and via phone, while a crowd of hundreds waited peacefully outside.
It was a hectic week for the five council members after it was announced that Councilmember Jewel Hurtado, who has come out as a member of the LGBT+ community, announced her flag request and proposed proclamation.
The mental health of the community was a key item of discussion throughout the evening.
Flying the rainbow flag shows acceptance, said Leslie Nelson of Selma, who is organizing a Pride Month in the city.
"I don't think this is appropriate city business," Councilmember Brandon Purcell said, adding that he respects the crusade but that doesn't make it city business. He said he disagrees with the flag and proclamation.
Mayor Laura North said the decision should not be made based on personal beliefs.
"Clearly we have a lot of work to do in this town. A proclamation and a flag are not going to solve a systemic problem. The problem is that we have a lot of people in this community who feel like they don't belong," she said.
North agreed with Purcell, however, that the issue is not one for the government.
"Kingsburg is not perfect, no city is," said Councilmember Vince Palomar. "I want our citizens to know that you are all welcome in Kingsburg, no matter what race, religion or sexual orientation. I feel for the young kids who feel like they don't belong here."
Resolute, Hurtado said she was committed to the cause.
"It will happen, no matter what. I didn't lose," she said.