The mayor of a county southwest of Nashville will not issue a mandate to require masks, and is joined by a handful of other county executives who refuse to be swept into the CV-19 panic that afflicts officials in the Chattanooga area.
“I choose not to infringe on your liberty but rather to stand in the gap,” says Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, a Republican. “I took an oath to defend our constitution and intend to do so…there will be no mask mandate in Maury County.”
Mr. Ogles joins Buddy Bradshaw in Loudon County and at least four other mayors in holding up his high regard for the common people.
Mr. Ogles says he encourages residents to consult doctors and encourages “social distancing.” He says “masks are not a perfect solution, but they can help in containing virus particles that you may shed by talking or sneezing.”
“If a business asks you to wear a mask then wear a mask or go somewhere else because you have a choice,” Ogles said. “If you’re in an environment where social distancing cannot be maintained then consider wearing a mask.”
‘Determine our own personal responsibility’
In Cheatham County, Mayor Kerry McCarver refuses to be panicked by CV-19, citing extremes already suffered by thousands in his west-of-Nashville county.
“Governor Lee has not outlined who would enforce his executive mandates or what the penalties would be. *** Each of us has the responsibility to protect himself or herself. I stay more than six feet away from everyone — especially from those who choose not to wear a mask. Either extreme of keeping everyone shuttered in his home or ignoring all cautions and warnings is wrong.”
Mayor McCarver recognizes widespread noncompliance. “A mandate could not be enforced or have any penalties or citations, so those who are calling for the mandate would be frustrated more when they find out there would be no punishment for those who choose not to wear a mask.”
The mayor highlights the goodwill and “good old Cheatham County Common sense” among the people he serves. “We work every day to keep our county safe and to unite our citizens to move ahead together. One of the good results of the pandemic is that we all have to determine our own personal responsibility to ourselves and each other. We also have to decide what level of government do we need and willing to tolerate or accept to live truly free.”
‘Should not be law enforcement issue’
In Anderson County, Mayor Terry Frank says the compulsory mask rules turn people against each other, which cannot be good policy. ““The people of Anderson County have been doing a wonderful job following the governor’s guidance, and I often express how proud I am of the job they’ve been doing throughout this COVID-19 pandemic,” Frank said. “I trust and respect the people of Anderson County, and I believe it is through encouraging healthy behaviors, promoting prevention, and praising each other that we achieve the greatest health outcomes.”
Anderson County is just northwest of Knoxville. “Policy — in whatever community crisis — that pits neighbor against neighbor is not good policy,” Mrs. Frank says.
“COVID-19 should not be a law enforcement issue, but like other public health issues is best served by continuing to create a community of prevention, healthy behavior, and constant analysis of our health systems to ensure people are able to get the medical care they need.”
Others favor liberty
Other Tennessee mayors reject the clamor that had such an effect on Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger.
➤ In Bradley County, Mayor Gary Davis will require people in county building to wear chin diapers, but refuses to impose a general rule. “Believe me, I heard the argument both ways, but I believe we need to err on the side of doing what little bit we can that helps just a little bit. *** But we do strongly encourage it, but we aren’t mandating it.”
➤ Claiborne County, Mayor Joe Brooks cites the fact that all the city mayors in his part of northeast Tennessee agree that freedom is best. “We are a free society and as such should be able to make our own decisions and I do not believe it is the role of any government within a free society to dictate the actions of its citizens.”
“Cheatham County mayor will not enforce mask mandate,” WKRN.com, July 6, 2020. https://www.wkrn.com/news/local-news/cheatham-county-mayor-will-not-enforce-mask-mandate/
John Huotari, “Anderson County will not require face masks,” Oak Ridge Today, July 7, 2020. https://oakridgetoday.com/2020/07/07/anderson-county-will-not-require-face-masks/
“Bradley County Mayor decides against mask mandate for now,” Newschannel9, July 6, 2020. https://newschannel9.com/news/local/bradley-county-mayor-decides-against-mask-mandate-for-now