Emergency Mask Mandate Fails to Pass with Unanimous Vote By Duluth City Council

The Council voted 7-2 on the mandate, with Councilors Roz Randorf and Derek Medved voting against it. 

DULUTH, Minn.- There will be no indoor mask mandate in the City of Duluth, as the emergency ordinance failed to garner the unanimous vote needed by City Council Monday night. The discussion about a mask mandate turned into a discussion about the council’s powers and whether or not it is their job to manage how the city navigates the pandemic.

The Council voted 7-2 on the mandate, with Councilors Roz Randorf and Derek Medved voting against it.

However the Council agreed, it is up to Mayor Emily Larson to make large-scale public health ordinances and mandates — such as one requiring face coverings indoors when the health situation requires it.

It was a complicated discussion with multiple resolutions and ordinances.

Primarily, Councilors Roz Randorf and Derek Medved put forth a resolution affirming that decisions like this really belong to the Mayor and the City Administration.

According to Randorf, they are the ones who can take the quick definite action needed in a crisis, not the council — that point passed unanimously.

“This is just the beginning we don’t know what the rest of this public health crisis is going to be we don’t know what tomorrow brings,” Third District Councilor Randorf said. “And if we look at what Minneapolis, did Mayor Jacob Frey signed the resolution mandating masks. The Mayor led that one.”

“We are part-time councilors we all have full-time jobs,” she said. “There’s no way we can be expected to manage a public health crisis Monday through Friday after 5-9 and weekends.”

After Minneapolis and Saint Paul issued a new indoor mask mandate last Thursday the discussion has now been brought to the forefront in Duluth with Councilor Terese Tomanek the prime leader wanting it passed.

She argued the council has passed a similar mandate in the past and there’s no time to wait with the delta and omicron variants surging across the region and nation.

“When we see a need in our community in this case an incredibly urgent need then we need to propose the legislation to address that crucial need,” said Councilor Tomanek.

“This is an incredibly unusual time and we need to move quickly to protect the public,” the Councilor-At-Large said. “If we lose more time we’re going to have more illness we’re going to have more hospitalizations and this can possibly save lives.”

Also failed to pass was a proposed city code change to add the COVID pandemic to Mayor Emily Larson’s executive powers.

However, newly appointed City Council President Arik Forsman told FOX 21 the Mayor has always had those powers.

According to Forsman, the council still has to vote to affirm any emergency actions the Mayor would take within 3 days.

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