Willie Hudspeth plans to run for County Judge

On the Tuesday after the Charlottesville incident, Willie Hudspeth walked up to the Commissioner’s Court lectern wearing a bright blue shirt, work pants, and suspenders.

When he started talking, Hudspeth proved himself to be a man of conviction, a man who can clearly expound upon what can and needs to be done to improve the city of Denton. 

Hudspeth has been talking about what to do with the Confederate Monument on the Square for the past 17 years. He’s decided it’s time to run for the judgeship soon to be vacated by Mary Horn.

“You can only ignore the people for so long and then they will rise up and say, ‘You can’t keep ignoring us,’ and [now] I’ve decided to run for the judgeship,” Hudspeth said. “We are getting my message out and I'm running as an independent so I can say what I think and what I want to say. You’ve got to quit fighting with each other, Republicans and Democrats. We’ve got to get together somehow.”

When his requests first began, he proposed getting rid of the monument altogether.

Then, he moved to suggesting that more history and historical artifacts be brought into the area so that many parts of Denton’s history can be acknowledged and learned about.

Another suggestion from Hudspeth was to turn the water on to the drinking fountains built into the monument. 

Hudspeth said to the court, “To this day, you have done none of that. You haven’t compromised. You haven’t done anything. I think government working together, for the people, should at least entertain the compromise.”

Denton County Judge Mary Horn doesn’t even feign a response as she moves on to the next piece of business, a fantastic accomplishment wherein Denton is proclaimed a Purple Heart County for its dedication and support of men and women who have been wounded or killed in active duty while fighting an enemy of the United States. After a few words and pictures, Horn returns to her seat and reads from the plaque, showing its lovely words off to those in attendance. 

She then gets extremely serious, gripping the plaque and furrowing her brows to say, “I’d like to point out just one thing. That Confederate monument out there, if you read it, it says, 'For the soldiers.’ For the soldiers.”

Her eyes got wide and she ended with, “That’s all I’ll say about that.”

A few loud laughs punctuated the statement, and then it’s business as usual.

While the non-action regarding bringing more history to the courthouse area drives Hudspeth, his independent run for Denton County judge is more about action, helping people, and change.

With the recent tragedy in Charlottesville, people at a local level are realizing that things everywhere need to change, and that starts in large part, with their elected officials at home.

This issue is not one of removing something from history for Hudspeth. Again, he feels that the commissioner’s court and judge need to get out, talk to people, and make positive changes in the community.

Since 2000, his position on the monument has changed, as he has taken into account what he calls God’s perspective on the issue, and bringing love into his approach.

“Now the compromise for me—and it wasn’t a compromise of surrender or defeat, I just think it’s the right thing to do—is to put some more history on the square," Hudspeth said. "The compromise is, ‘Let us put some other history out there, some things that will make us feel good about ourselves.’ If you just incite everybody [by taking down the monument], they’re just going to be angrier.”

Hudspeth is at the square every Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m. and plans to be out from about 5 to 9 p.m. once it gets cooler.

He made note of the candlelight vigils that have recently occurred in town to honor the Charlottesville victims. He has also noticed an uptick in people discussing the same issues he brings forth at the commissioner’s court meetings every Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Hudspeth was told recently at commissioner’s court about Zach Rawlings. Rawlings was born around 1846 as a slave, and upon gaining his freedom at the age of 40, worked as a janitor at the courthouse until his death in 1911.

Hudspeth feels that doing things such as honoring Rawlings and others who contributed to the rich history of Denton could be added to the square. 

“The only way we can get anything done about adding things on that square is one of the commissioners or the judge puts it on the agenda, and they won’t,” Hudspeth said. “But now, Charlottesville has changed everything. People are saying, ‘I want to be identified with love. I do not want to be identified with hate. I’m not going to be a part of that. I’m joining the cause.’ Denton County will be a different place.”

Photo courtesy of Willie Hudspeth's Facebook page
Header image design by Christopher Rodgers