Some city leaders defy governor’s mask mandate

Local News

President Trump would have been proud of some Winnebago city leaders recently.

A notice with a red stop sign is posted on the inside door of City Hall and beneath is written Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order issued July 25.

The governor’s mandate requires people to wear a face covering in all public indoor spaces or businesses.

However, council members Jean Anderson and Rick Johnson, Mayor Jeremiah Schutt and Deputy City Clerk Jessi Sturtz chose not wear a face mask during a City Council meeting held Aug. 10.

Councilman Calvin Howard and Paul Eisenmenger were absent.

“I am just tired of laws being made and shoved down our throats,” says Johnson. “We’re all adults. Let us be adults and make our own decisions.”

City Administrator Jake Skluzacek, City Attorney David Frundt and police officer Emily Bonin all donned face coverings.

A member of the press and a person in the audience wore a mask, but six other people chose not to.

Skluzacek admitted to the council that enforcing the order, which fines violators $100, would be difficult. Businesses are supposed to be subjected to criminal charges, civil fines up to $25,000 and government action to regulate the business.

Meanwhile, all Blue Earth City Council members seem to be complying with wearing a mask during their meetings.

Councilman John Huisman says that no more than 10 people are allowed to attend their meetings, which amounts to the council, city administrator, city attorney and two members of the press.

“I am going to comply with the governor’s order. I am a citizen of the state and believe what our government thinks is best for me,” says Huisman.

Winnebago Police Chief Eric Olson says rather than issuing citations, officers will suggest and encourage people not wearing a mask to do so. He says if the department receives report of a violation it will be turned over to the proper health organization to be investigated.

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