Tootie Smith, who was elected as Clackamas County Chair in May, has stirred controversy over a Facebook post she made early Saturday, Nov. 14.
In a response to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's mandated two-week halt to social gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Republican said, "My family will celebrate Thanksgiving with as many family and friends as I can find. Gov. Brown is WRONG to order otherwise."
The potential standoff has national implications. Brown's chief of staff, Nik Blossor, has resigned to join President-elect Joe Biden's transition team. Biden has promised a stronger response to the pandemic.
KOIN 6 reached out to Smith for comment Sunday and the commissioner-elect doubled down on her post.
"Well, as for my family, it's always their choice to celebrate Thanksgiving or any holiday," said Smith, who will take office in January. "My family makes their own decisions. My family understands hygiene. They understand that if they're sick they'll stay home. They understand to wear masks in public. They understand to wash their hands. And, they understand to cover their mouth if they have a cough. We don't need government telling us that."
Brown announced her new restrictions, including a limit of six people during home gatherings, on Friday, Nov. 13. She said law enforcement officers may charge people with misdemeanor crimes for violating her restrictions. The limit lasts until at least Dec. 2, well past the Nov. 26 Thanksgiving holiday.
Smith stressed that Brown's restrictions violate the rights of her constituents. She also insisted Brown was picking and choosing specific coronavirus-related problems to deal with and ignoring other issues in Clackamas County Smith sees as crucial.
"I'd like to know what she's doing about the collateral damage of the shutdowns," Smith said. "For instance, what is she doing about child abuse, domestic violence and suicides? [All this] depression is coming from job loss and being stuck at home and not being able to take advantage of the programs that are out there to help these types of people."
Brown's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Smith won the Clackamas County Chair race with 52% of the vote, defeating incumbent James Bernard.
A previous Portland Tribune story on Brown's new COVID-19 order can be found here.
KOIN News 6 is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Reporter Jim Redden contributed to this story. Their story can be found here.
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