Council to discuss stance on governor's COVID-19 response
Mayor Stan Pulliam has been a vocal opponent of COVID-19 restrictions, which he deems "discriminatory" and harmful to small businesses since Gov. Kate Brown's first executive order was implemented nearly a year ago. Most recently, Pulliam was at the forefront of the "Open Oregon" movement calling on businesses to open under "high risk" restrictions, rather than the currently mandated "extreme risk" guidelines, starting Jan. 1.
Over the past 10 months, Pulliam's commentary has gained him a number of supporters as well as critics, including among his fellow councilors. In May 2020, the past council was divided on how to address reopening and on Pulliam's very public advocacy for pushing back against the governor's guidance and restrictions. Some councilors felt the mayor's comments opposing the executive orders reflected poorly on the council. Pulliam has, on multiple occasions, stated that his comments were made by himself, as an individual, and not meant to speak for the council or city of Sandy.
Now, even with three new councilors on the virtual dais, opinions on the council still differ. So much so that new Councilor Kathleen Walker requested council have a discussion in the next meeting to determine if the council wants to assert a stance or non-stance on the "Open Oregon" movement and/or the Governor's mandates.
"The concern that I have is things are moving really fast and our reputation is being talked about and not in a positive manner to some extent (though) some people think it is positive," Walker said, to which Pulliam interrupted with a comment that "many do think (that commentary) is positive."
"We just took an oath to uphold the state's laws and orders and so I feel like it's kind of surprising that we should discuss whether we're actually going to come out on a position to do that," Walker explained. "My concern is really for our reputation with all those state and county partners that we have to work with. They have a tremendous amount of power and authority over us and we look to them for a lot of support both financially and professionally. I am concerned that there's this perception by those partners that Sandy is kind of poking a bear or challenging authority."
This request did lead to a somewhat heated back-and-forth between Walker and Pulliam, who argued that his position as mayor of Sandy does not extinguish his First Amendment right and that the current executive orders do not constitute an ORS made law by the legislature. The same night of the last meeting, Pulliam took to social media to call on the public to send in comments to the councilors before the discussion.
"Shortly after being sworn in at her first city council meeting tonight, Kathleen Walker asked that the Sandy City Council take a position supporting Gov. Kate Brown's devastating mandates that are destroying local small businesses in our community," Pulliam wrote. "This agenda item will be the topic of our next city council work session. Please reach out and let Councilor Walker and the rest of the Sandy City Council know where you stand on this important issue."
Further discussion will be facilitated among the councilors in a virtual work session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19. Comments can be emailed to the councilors. To attend the meeting, visit sandy.civicweb.net/Portal.
Contact your councilors
• Mayor Stan Pulliam
• Council President Jeremy Pietzold, Position No. 1
• Councilor Laurie Smallwood, Position No. 2
• Councilor Rich Sheldon, Position No. 3
• Councilor Kathleen Walker, Position No. 4
• Councilor Carl Exner, Position No. 5
• Councilor Don Hokanson, Position No. 6
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