Rapid City one step closer to a mask mandate
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Rapid City took a giant step towards a mask mandate, as city council voted on the first reading of the ordinance.
The council was divided on the issue, five-to-five with Mayor Steve Allender breaking the tie by voting in favor of the mandate. The discussion surrounding the mandate was heated. As most concerned residents opted to watch the council meeting from the safety of their homes, there was a heavy presence of those in opposition, including a group protesting the mandate. Arguments ranged from masks being ineffective to a mandate being the first step in stripping American rights. Among those not in favor, were a handful of families new to South Dakota, who credit their moves to the personal freedom they believe the state allows.
Political commentator Tomi Lahren’s mother, Trudy Lahren, was also in attendance, and read a statement from her daughter discouraging a mandate, saying “Once you open the door to tyranny and control, that is how your city will be defined.”
Half of the council agreed that at the very least, a mandate was not necessary. The reasoning being that cooperation over compliance is a better solution.
“With a mandate, you have people rebelling against that in a sense, or repelling against that, sometimes for good reason depending on the situation,” said council member Jason Salamun. “So you have less compliance and that’s a less successful outcome. My position is that we mask by choice, not by force.”
With no representation from those in favor, council members addressed concerns they’d read in over 600 comments and emails sent over the past 2 days.
Those in favor of the stressed a mask mandate, like many other safety laws, would be put in place to protect those around us. Although many opposed to the mandate argued people should be trusted to make good decisions, Councilwoman Laura Armstrong called into question the decisions to hold several large events in the state this summer.
“We’ve tried the personal responsibility route, and bless those that have been taking this seriously,” said Armstrong. “Sometimes to the extreme, but thank you for doing that. With that being said, you look at the opposite side of the pendulum and there are some people living their best lives, not caring, and really not taking any responsibility with that.”
To counter the ordinance, Councilman Salamun did propose a resolution that would encourage following the three W’s; washing hands, watching distance, and if necessary, wearing a mask, but not requiring it. As the tie breaker, Mayor Allender voted against the resolution, but passed the ordinance. Members in favor say it would only be enforced temporarily, and results would likely not be immediate.
“There will be a timed expiration on the ordinance,” said Armstrong. “We must take into consideration that if everybody, or the majority of people mask up, realistically we will not see the numbers go down for probably two or three weeks.”
There will be a second ordinance reading at a later date before action is taken and the mandate becomes city law. In the meantime, Salamun and council members in opposition plan to continue working on a resolution.