Front Royal’s mayor says the town doesn’t plan on naming any of its streets after former President Donald J. Trump any time soon.
Mayor Christopher W. Holloway stated in a media release issued Friday evening that he and a majority of the Town Council members do not support the idea brought up earlier in the week by Councilman E. Scott Lloyd, a former appointee under the Trump administration.
Holloway further explained in the release the agenda for the council’s Monday night work session did not include Lloyd’s suggestion. Rather, the councilman brought up the idea during the open discussion period at the end of the meeting.
“Councilman Lloyd is open to share his views; however, the majority of Council, especially me, do not support naming a street after President Trump,” Holloway states in the release. “Nor do we consider bringing it up in the future.”
Town Code allows two council members to add any item for a work session discussion topic. Councilmen Joseph McFadden and Lloyd have asked that the subject appear on the Feb. 1 work session agenda, according to the release.
“While it may be on the upcoming work session, I, as well as my colleagues, will not support or vote for the renaming of a street for President Trump,” Holloway states. “All the leaders in our community are working day and night to move our community forward and overcome our challenging past.
“Front Royal is a wonderful place and will continue to be a place for people to live, work, visit, and play,” the release goes on to state. “As the newly elected Mayor, I am 100% committed to showing the world how wonderful our people, our businesses and (our) community are in these trying times. I’m proud to call Front Royal my home. “
Lloyd broached the idea to the council at its work session Tuesday – on the eve of President Joseph T. Biden Jr.’s inauguration. Lloyd, who won a council seat in the November town election, had worked under the Trump administration in the Department of Health and Human Services as the appointed director of the Office of Refugee Settlement. He worked in that job for a year and a half and then moved to another position in the department. Lloyd left the Trump administration in June 2019.
After hearing concerns raised by some fellow council members, Lloyd said he was aware that such a move could open the door for more street-name changes.
“My general thinking, however, is that, you know, (Trump) received 67% of the vote in this county in this past election which, if it were Congress, would be enough to change the Constitution,” Lloyd said. “It’s a super-majority.
“And of course there (are) many aspects of his tenure that are historical,” Lloyd goes on to say about his former employer.
Lloyd said that Trump supporters he knows are now being “tarred and feathered and harassed” by other people in the community who accuse them of being racists or bigots.
“We have a system of institution after institution, family people, and I just thought that this could be an opportunity for one institution to respond by saying ‘we understand you, we have your back,” Lloyd said. “It could look gimmicky and I’m really trying not to be gimmicky. I really have people’s interest at heart.
“I think they feel just bludgeoned by the past several months and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna let up ... and for many people it’s going to be getting worse,” Lloyd added.
Councilman Gary Gillispie expressed concern about Lloyd’s suggestion.
“I’ve got some very severe reservations about this, just from a cost perspective to our businesses, our residents that live there, having their address changed,” Gillispie said. “No. 2: I don’t think it’s ever happened but one time in our town that a street name was changed and also we’re gonna open up the door, I mean, and I’ve lived in this town for 48 years, maybe I want to get a street named after me.”
Councilwoman Lori A. Cockrell and Mayor Christopher W. Holloway said they agreed with Gillispie.
But, if a developer wanted to build a site and name a street for Trump, the residents would know, Gillispie said.
“It’s not that I don’t - I think (Trump) was great, don’t get me wrong,” Gillispie said. “But I think we’re gonna be opening up a can of worms that I don’t think we’re prepared for by doing that.”
Cockrell recalled that the town changed 2nd Street to Academy Drive for Randolph Macon Academy years ago. Two residents on the street opposed the name change, Cockrell said.
“My only thought was, like Councilman Gillispie said, I was just thinking of money,” Cockrell said.
The councilwoman pointed out that Front Royal has streets named for former presidents.