Confederate activist nearly named to Hillsborough County's diversity panel
TAMPA — A well-known local activist for Confederate causes nearly won a spot Wednesday on a citizen council to promote diversity in Hillsborough County.
David McAllister, leader of the Tampa chapter of Sons of Confederate Veterans, came one vote short of the requisite four needed to join the county’s Diversity Advisory Council. McAllister applied for an at-large seat and was the preferred choice of three Republican commissioners: Victor Crist, Stacy White and Ken Hagan.
He initially tied with another individual, Lynette Stine, until Commissioner Kevin Beckner changed his pick to ensure Stine received the four votes needed for appointment.
The diversity council includes representatives from various ethnic groups as well as the LGBT community. Its job is to “facilitate communication between county government and its diverse populations, addressing matters related to diversity that are important to everyone.”
McAllister speaks during public comment of nearly every county commission meeting, always in a red tie with the rebel stars and bars, often arguing for more county appreciation of Confederate history and the reinstatement of Southern Heritage Month, which ended here in 2007.
He was a vocal opponent of the removal of a version of the Confederate Flag from the Hillsborough County Government Center lobby last year. Commissioners voted unanimously to take down the divisive symbol in the wake of the racially motivated shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church that left nine black men and women dead. The shooting suspect has been photographed holding the Confederate flag.
McAllister had also previously co-chaired a committee to build in Hillsborough a Civil War memorial (which he calls “The War Between the States”) but the panel was dissolved amid concerns about the design’s prominent confederate themes.
He often, though, also supports the causes of other groups at commission meetings in hopes that promoting them will eventually lead to Confederate recognition, too. For example, last month he backed an effort from Beckner to designate each June as LGBT Pride Awareness Month in anticipation it could lead to the return of Southern Heritage Month.
“I think that you have seen that I have been collegial and have been cooperative and I understand the mechanisms of the council,” McAllister said Wednesday during his typical three-minute soliloquy before the meeting. “If you want to make this council work, you want me on it.”
Had he been selected, McAllister wouldn’t have been the only controversial member of the diversity council. It also includes Terry Kemple, a Christian activist who has lobbied against LGBT causes.
McAllister also submitted his name for a seat on the council reserved for Northern and Southern Europeans, but only received one vote, from Hagan.