On March 9, 2021, four members of the Ramsey City Council voted in support of a Resolution of not enforcing the mask mandate. Since then, COVID rates in this area have risen rapidly.
The Minnesota Department of Health keeps track of the COVID rate by zip code across the State of Minnesota. The COVID rate for the zip code covering the city of Ramsey rose from 4,988 the week of March 18, 2021, to 5,741 the week of April 22, 2021. Such action taken against the advice of the city attorney, the mayor, other council members and health officials begs the question of the motives of these elected officials. The arguments presented appeared to be mostly political in nature and focused primarily on the governor’s executive order being unconstitutional. None of the supporting council members or the public who spoke in favor of passage of the resolution provided any substantive court decisions supporting their legal claim. On the other hand, the city attorney affirmatively stated that every decision in Minnesota has affirmed the legality of Gov. Walz’s executive order. Other arguments used in supporting the resolution included the high cost of enforcement or the inability to fully breathe and were challenged by the police chief and a city employee who said they were spending more staff time interpreting the effects of the resolution. Others pointed out that the executive order superseded any City Council resolution on the matter and the passage was superfluous.
The four council members in favor of the resolution were Ryan Heineman, Chelsee Howell, Debra Musgrove and Dan Specht. They should be reminded that approximately 10 years ago was the last time the city of Ramsey received such substantial negative press; all of the incumbents in the next election were voted out.
I would strongly urge these council members, instead of pandering to their base, follow the advice of the legal and health professionals and focus on important issues of the city over which they do have control.
Tom Gamec is a former mayor of Ramsey.