Several cities and school districts throughout Idaho are passing mask mandates once again.
Boise was one of the first to reimplement a mask mandate. The city of Victor passed a mask mandate, but the Teton School District is refusing to comply.
Last night, the city of Lewiston voted 3 to 2 against reimplementing its mask mandate after a protest against the mandate and an unusual agenda change that divided the city council.
Before the meeting beginning, a protest took place outside.
Wilson Boots, a candidate for Mayor of Lewiston, organized the protest. Wilson told Idaho Dispatch his estimates of the crowd size was approximately 150 people.
Idaho Dispatch asked Boots what he thought about the council’s decision not to reimplement the mask mandate. Wilson said,
Tonight’s mask mandate being defeated just goes to show you the power that the public has if we will just show up and say ‘NO!’ I’m proud of everyone that came tonight and made a real difference.
During the meeting, the vast majority of testimony was against the mandate, according to Wilson.
After lengthy testimony, City Councilmember John Bradbury made a motion to reimplement the mandate. However, no “Second” was ever announced, and the motion apparently failed.
Sometime after the crowd left, Councilmember Kathy Schroeder, who was watching on Zoom, announced that she couldn’t hear Bradbury’s motion and would have supported it.
With the crowd gone, a discussion ensued between councilmembers on whether to vote on the mask mandate or push it to the next meeting.
Councilmember John Pernsteiner said he was adamantly opposed to holding a vote because the citizens had gone home, believing the item was closed. Pernsteiner noted that even if the law allowed the meeting to continue, it was not right to do it without citizens present who had shown up for the mask mandate debate.
Pernsteiner motioned to push the mask mandate discussion to the next meeting, but the motion failed.
Bradbury then motioned to vote on the mask mandate itself, effective immediately for six months as the mandate was previously implemented. Schroeder supported the motion, and debate about the mask mandate was open.
Bradbury told the council that he wished the citizens were still in the meeting. He said,
The reason that I really am upset about it being handled at this meeting instead of the next meeting is because I wanted to address the people who were here who were complaining about the mask mandate and I won’t be able to respond, and they won’t be able to hear my views so I think I am being denied that right, and I think they’re being denied that right that the open meeting’s law contemplates occur. But I will say first of all to them, and I’m sorry they aren’t here to hear me say it, because I want to say it to their face, and I’m not given that opportunity. But to say that we have a constitutional right to not have a mask mandate is simply not right.
Additionally, Bradbury said he believed the mask mandate was needed and cited the increase in deaths and infections as part of his debate in favor of the mask mandate. He told the council, in part,
When we had the mandate for four and a half months, we had one death and we had an average infection of one a day. Since we have taken off the mandate, we’ve had almost 30 deaths, I think it’s 28 deaths, and we have an average incidence of infection of 10 or 11 a day.
Councilmember Kevin Kelly told the council that while he believes masks would be an excellent way to slow Covid-19 and pleaded with people to get vaccinated, he thought that a mandate would further divide the community.
After Kelly’s comment, the council voted on the mandate with the following results:
John Pernsteiner – No
Michael Collins – No
Kevin Kelly – No
John Bradbury – Yes
Kathy Schroeder – Yes
City Councilmembers Bob Blakey and Cari Miller were not present for the meeting.
Do you think cities should implement mask mandates? Let us know in the comments below!
Tags: Bob Blakey, Cary Miller, John Bradbury, John Pernsteiner, Kathy Schroeder, Kevin Kelly, Lewiston, Mask Mandate, Michael Collins, Wilson Boots