Washington state’s most populous county, King, also uses a flag with a face on it: a stylized portrait of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The flag was adopted in 2009 after over 20 years of efforts, lead by African American politicians and civil rights activists Ron Sims and Larry Gossett, to re-affiliate King County with Rev. King rather than its original namesake, US Vice President William Rufus Devane King.
Imperial County (California) Supervisor Ryan E. Kelley would like to redesign the little-known flag adopted by the county in 1996 but subsequently forgotten. But this is not another Roman Mars-inspired effort focused on applying principles of good flag design to improve a bad one. Rather, Kelley wants to use not just a new flag itself but the process he has put in place to select one as a means to build community and find a unifying symbol:
Imperial County has some of the most beautiful landscapes and treasures in California and the United States. From the Colorado River to the Laguna Mountains, the Imperial Sand Dunes, the Salton Sea and Imperial Valley’s emerald farm fields, there are many highlights of this county’s natural beauty. That being said, “COMMUNITY” is the greatest treasure of Imperial County and we need a symbol of our community and the people who live within it. In furtherance of this, the County of Imperial is holding an Imperial County Flag Design Contest. This is an opportunity to create a lasting symbol for the county that captures the history, beauty and uniqueness of our community.
Accordingly, the process consists of two separate flag design competitions, one for school children and one for adults, restricted to residents of Imperial County and featuring cash prizes to drum up interest and participation. For each grade from K through 12 a winning design will be selected, the winning designer receiving a $100 prize. From these 13 winners, first-, second-, and third-place prizes will be rewarded consisting of an additional $400, $200, and $100, respectively. For the adult competition, a first-, second-, and third-place winner will be selected and awarded $1000, $500, and $250 respectively. Out of all 16 winning designs across both competition, the county will decide if there is one that it would like to replace the existing flag.
Contest rules explicitly allow for the inclusion (or not) of the county seal as part of the flag design, and they leave it up to each contest participant to seek out (or not) flag design recommendations. So we would say to any Imperialist considering entering this competition: we recommend you take a look at the design advice in Good Flag, Bad Flag, and we think you’ll find it helpful.
In 1955, a contest was held by the high schools of Cape May County to design an official county flag. The entries were submitted to the Board of Chosen Freeholders and the County Librarian and the top three winning designs were given to a commercial artist. Under the direction of the Board of Chosen Freeholders and the County Librarian, the present county flag was designed and finally completed.
The flag is made up of a holly tree, adopted by resolution as the official tree of Cape May County, at the base of the County Seal; a gull perched above and on top of the seal; and the county incorporation date of 1692. Colors of the flag are red, navy blue; gull and holly tree background white; with the rest being done in gold and contrasting colors.
The Minutes reflect that on October 1, 1957, the flag had been purchased and was now on display at the front of the Freeholders’ meeting room. As reported in 1969, the county flag had been loaned on occasion to various civic organizations and schools for display.
Today, the flag is flown along with the national flag at most county buildings and is on display in the Freeholders’ offices, meeting rooms and the offices of the county department heads.