First reading of Rapid City mask mandate passed by split City Council

Mask mandate passes by a 6-5 vote
Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 10:55 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The three-hour-long meeting had the deciding vote on whether to approve the mask mandate cast by Mayor Steve Allender, who voted in favor of the mandate.

Many community members spoke out against the mandate at the meeting, but council member Darla Drew said the nearly 600 email responses were a near split between whether it should be passed or not.

The mask mandate received Yes votes from Ritchie Nordstrom, Bill Evans, Greg Strommen, and Laura Armstong and Darla Drew. Those who voted no were Ron Wifenbach, Jason Salamun, Pat Jones, John Roberts, and Lance Lehman.

Armstrong feels the mandate is necessary because while some in the community wear masks, others don’t.

“Some people are living their best life, not caring, and not taking any responsibility with that. And that is sad for our community because that has dire consequences,” Laura Armstrong, Ward 5, says.

A substitute motion was voted on just before the mandate that would strongly encourage those in Rapid City to wear a mask but not require it and would not have any fines as a consequence.

That motion failed with voting going by the same lines in which the mandate passed.

Salamun, who helped bring the motion forward, felt it was a better way to unite the city.

“The reason I proposed the resolution was for unity around a message that included wearing a mask, out of respect instead, I knew the mandate would create division,” Jason Salamun, Ward 3, says.

The mandate still needs a second reading at a city council meeting before it becomes official.

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