The city of Rexburg is just the latest in a string of Idaho cities to take on the issue of wearing masks in public.
And the citizens of Rexburg showed up in large numbers to listen and make their feelings known on the debate.
Representative-elect Karey Hanks (Republican – District 35) was at the meeting. She estimated that there were approximately 75 people in total in attendance.
Before we get to the meeting itself, we wanted to mention that a controversy has arisen after the council voted down the mask mandate.
One of the city councilmembers, Chris Mann, was one of two city council members that voted for a failed mask mandate on Thursday night.
After the meeting, a citizen who was in attendance at the meeting, snapped a picture of Mann sitting at a table with other people and his mask is not on. The setting for this picture is apparently a Planning and Zoning meeting that took place right after the city council meeting.
This image was sent to Idaho Dispatch.
It is unclear why Mr. Mann does not have his mask on at this time. From the picture, it does not appear as though he is six feet away from all the people he is near.
It is also unclear if the other people at the table are all masked. Two of the individuals appear to be masked but the female in red, it is inconclusive the image. There is also one person standing behind Mr. Mann who is not masked.
We reached out to Mr. Mann through the city council contact page and his personal profile on Facebook.
If he responds to our question on why he was unmasked during this picture, we’ll update the article accordingly.
What happened at the meeting itself?
From the video, it is difficult to see how many people in the crowd were wearing versus not wearing masks. Hanks told Idaho Dispatch that she counted less than ten people that were masked and that it seemed most of the crowd was opposed to a mandate from the city.
The meeting appeared to be heated at times with some in the crowd voicing their displeasure with the council and mayor.
Several outbursts from the crowd prompted a comment from the mayor that if order was not kept, they would adjourn the meeting.
Eventually, the crowd calmed enough and the meeting continued.
In the end, the council ended up voting down the mandate on a vote of 4-2.
Mann and city councilmember Bryanna Johnson both voted for the mandate. The mayor did not vote and only would have in the event of a tie.
After the mandate was voted down, the city council did pass a resolution supporting the wearing of masks.
Both Mann and Johnson voted against the resolution.
Rexburg is just the latest city to not vote for a mandate. Many of the cities that have not done a mandate, such as Pocatello, Idaho Falls, and Lewiston, have all cited concerns for putting law enforcement in a position where they are dealing with the fallout of a mandate.
We asked Representative-elect Karey Hanks what she thought of the meeting and she told Idaho Dispatch,
It was great to see so many people show up with signs. I counted about 75 in the room with less than 10 in face masks. The council members received numerous emails, which they acknowledged were helpful. The council voted on the mandate–only 2 supported it. Mayor Jerry Merrill presented a plan to educate people to encourage face mask wearing. This was the better alternative and was passed. I wonder how the vote would have gone if people hadn’t attended. It’s so important for “we the people” to be engaged in our local government issues. One more point: the BYUI students will be returning soon–will they be quarantined for 2 weeks?
Do you agree with the council’s decision to not enforce a mask mandate?
Let us know in the comments below.
Tags: Chris Mann, City Council, Coronavirus, Karey Hanks, Mask Mandate, Rexburg