People of Fargo out in full force for mask mandate debate

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 10:20 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Both sides came out in full force as Fargo considered a mask mandate.

While city leaders didn’t make a final decision, they did narrowly agree to draft a proposal that will be considered at a later date.

“People are coming to North Dakota to get their hair done, they are coming to North Dakota to get their oil changed, they are coming to North Dakota to get their groceries,” Vicki Bailie said. “They are coming to North Dakota to do an awful lot of things and Minnesota is losing an awful lot of money because they have a mask mandate.”

“I have to be honest that I am a bit hesitant with a mandate but if it ends up saving a single life, I am all for it,” Wess Philome said.

In asking the city attorney to draft an ordinance, Commissioner John Strand asked that it be modeled after ones in New York and Arkansas, but without any penalties for violators.

“Let’s bring everyone’s viewpoints into this, but let’s do some action on the local level that will show a result that will save some lives or help some people or get us through this pandemic sooner than not,” Commissioner Strand said.

Just as divided as the crowd was, commissioners decided on a narrow 3-2 vote to move forward.

Mayor Tim Mahoney voted yes, but citing issues with enforcement and the emotional response people have to a “mandate”.

“I do not feel safe in environments where people don’t wear masks, even being here is a huge risk,” JJ Daniels said.

“An eight-year-old in Grand Forks completed suicide due to the effects of COVID-19,” Loretta Smith said.

With the vote, there’s still plenty of time for the public to weigh in. Once written, it will be back before commissioners with residents getting another chance to share their feelings.

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