It was a full house at the Klamath County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, during which several members of the public spoke in opposition to statewide mask and vaccine mandates imposed by Gov. Kate Brown.
Many asked Klamath County Commissioners to oppose those mandates, but commissioners said the rules were made by state officials and remain out of their hands.
”There was no decision making by this body on the mandate, as I know everyone in here is well versed and understands,” Kelley Minty Morris, chair of the board of commissioners said. “This is a state mandate, not a county mandate...therefore these aren’t mandates that are actionable by the board of commissioners.”
“But I certainly appreciate hearing the feedback, we are all a community, and it’s great to hear from you,” Minty Morris said.
On August 13, Brown reinstated statewide mask mandates in all indoor public settings, and mandated that state executive branch employees, health care workers, teachers and more must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.
County Commissioner Derrick Degroot said he met with and gave his support to Matt Chavarria, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3340. The union, which represents 29 firefighters stationed at Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base, recently joined with the Fraternal Order of Police and nine Oregon State Police troopers in a lawsuit against Gov. Kate Brown.
The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, hopes to stop the state’s enforcement of the vaccine mandate.
“I met with (Chavarria), last week, let him know that he had my support and that that’s the right way in order to do that,” Degroot said. “This needs to be litigated in the courts and see where that goes.”
Minty Morris added that she agrees with Degroot in that the mandate situation should be left to the courts.
She encouraged people to reach out to their state representatives in Salem, as it is there — not in Klamath County — where these sorts of decisions are being made, she said.
“Ultimately these things do get decided in court,” Minty Morris added.