Sapulpa passes mask mandate after heated deliberation at City Council meeting

Sapulpa City Council passed a mask mandate—6 in favor to 4 against—as the first item of new business at the regular City Council meeting on Monday, November 16th.

Chairs in each row were taped off to allow for social distancing, but also severely reducing chairs available. Every available seat was taken, and a crowd stood in the back. The list for public comments was long.

A full gathering at the City Council meeting on Monday to be heard on the topic of the mask mandate.

Kristy Glessner was one of the first to speak in the public comments section, and she pointed out that she believed creating a mask mandate would open the city up to lawsuits. She wouldn’t hold to Mayor Henderson’s one-minute time limit, and left after speaking for about three minutes, to loud clapping from members of the gallery.

Mayor Henderson banged his gavel and brought order, reiterating the need for residents to abide by the time limit. “It’s not fair to everyone else that wants to speak on both sides of this,” Henderson said.

Additional speakers kept their time at the podium reasonable, and their comments were varied, and their stance divided. There were many more residents against a mask mandate who spoke than those in favor of one.

Those who opposed a mandate listed personal and religious freedoms (“Just remember people, we got rights.”) to questioning the validity of a mask as a solution (“Face masks are just a bandaid.”) to asking about how the police would enforce such a mandate. Some asked the councilors not to make a decision based on what was happening in other cities. “We are not Tulsa, we are not [Broken Arrow], or Bixby, or anyone else. We are a special town,” one said.

I have a right to breathe. For your to require me to arbitrarily wear a mask, is no different you putting your hand over my face.

Susan Nolan

Several who spoke were in favor of mask mandates.

Teacher and coach Kip Shubert approached his reasoning for a mask mandate from the point of view of the students he teaches every day:
“In person learning is best for our kids, and we want to be there teaching them in person,” he said, asking the community “to partner with us so that we can continue to stay open when most other districts are going virtual.”

“If we are just taking sides in a dispute then all we are doing is wanting to be right,” Shubert said. “I don’t want to be right, I want to be a team.”

Every soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guard guy, when they set foot on military installations, in the United States of America, they have to wear a mask. If it’s good enough for the military, it’s good enough for the city of Sapulpa.

Scott Ryan

Representatives from the Creek County Health Department were invited to speak to the council, and they insisted that masks “do work.”

“More than a dozen cities in the state have implemented mask mandates in response to the rising case numbers,” they said. “We’ve seen progress made in these communities in mitigating the spread.” They also encouraged people to wear masks where socially distancing is not possible, “especially as we head into the holiday season, where small gatherings will be taking place.”

In the Study Session prior to the meeting, Police Chief Mike Reed addressed the issue of how it would be enforced, saying that it would be a “low-priority call” and that once the call is answered, the police will ask the person to leave if they don’t put a mask on.” Councilor Hugo Naifeh said the offender could be fined, but added that it would be “a last resort.”

The proclamation was amended as part of the vote to approve, with the inclusion of exemption from the mask mandate by “persons attending any indoor or outdoor religious service or ceremony as long as all persons who do not live in the same household are social distancing from one another, meaning not less than 6 feet apart.”

The term face coverings was also amended to include face shields.

Here is a copy of the proclamation, before the amendments. It also lists the situations in which an exemption to the mask mandate would be made.

The mask mandate goes into effect on November 18th at 12:01 a.m. and ends at midnight on January 4th, 2021.

Voted Yes:

  1. Gunn
  2. Henderson
  3. Naifeh
  4. Suggs
  5. Stephens
  6. Beyer.

Voted No:

  1. Cummins
  2. Hale
  3. Martin
  4. Bledsoe
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Micah Choquette

Micah Choquette

Micah is the owner/Editor-In-Chief of Sapulpa Times and passionate about telling the everyday stories in the town that we love. You can find him on Twitter at @meetmicah or email him at news@sapulpatimes.com.
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