Gov. Tate Reeves answers questions during a press conference concerning the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Tate Reeves late Friday announced his three appointments to the commission tasked with coming up with a new state flag design to put before voters — a week after the deadline to make the appointments per a bill he signed into law.

The new commission this week held its first meeting without the appointments of Reeves, who had opposed the Legislature removing the 1894 state flag with its divisive Confederate emblem, saying voters should have decided whether to remove it.

The commission has another meeting scheduled for next week, and plans to approve a new flag design by Sept. 2. That design will go before voters on Nov. 3, for an up-or-down vote. If voters reject it, the commission will work on a new design to put before voters in 2021.

Reeves for the last two weeks had offered little explanation why he hadn’t made his appointments, other than he was busy with the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues.

Although he had signed the flag commission legislation into law without raising such issues, he questioned on Wednesday whether lawmakers have the “constitutional authority to call a meeting of an executive branch entity” or to make appointments to such a commission.

Reeves, as the law stipulated, named his three appointees to the nine-member commission from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Mississippi Arts Commission and Mississippi Economic Council. Reeves had expressed displeasure that the Legislature restricted his appointments to these groups and placed no restrictions on House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who chose the other six members.

Reeves appointments to the flag commission are:

Mississippi Department of Archives and History: Betsey Hamilton.

Hamilton is a retired public school teacher, real estate broker and appraiser.  Hamilton serves on the board of the Union County Heritage Museum and as a member of the Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi. She has previously served as a founding member of the b of the Union County Historical Society and the Tanglefoot Trail. She was a trustee for the New Albany Public School District and a member of the Advisory Council for the New Albany Boys and Girls Club.

Mississippi Economic Council: Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben.

Ben is the fifth democratically elected chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. He took office in 2019, making history as the youngest chief. Ben is actively involved in mentoring youth in his community, is a life-long resident of Neshoba County and lives in the Pearl River community.

Mississippi Arts Commission: Frank Bordeaux.

Bordeaux serves as vice president of property and casualty for BXS Insurance. He has been involved with numerous civic and nonprofit organizations over the years, including serving on the Gulfport Youth Sports Association, as a past board member of Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen, and as a past board member of Lynn Meadows Discovery Center.

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Geoff Pender

Geoff Pender

Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.