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Councilors unanimously vote to send letter to Gov. Brown detailing toll of rules on businesses, families

After multiple conversations about the effects of COVID-19 on businesses, people and the local economy, the Sandy City Council has chosen to appeal directly to Gov. Kate Brown asking her to ease restrictions.

At the virtual meeting of the council on Monday, Feb. 1, staff presented the councilors with two drafts of possible letters addressed to the governor. They were contributed by councilors Laurie Smallwood, Kathleen Walker and Don Hokanson.

While in the past Smallwood and Walker have made opposing arguments regarding the COVID-19 restrictions and the council's role in supporting them, the two councilors were able to find compromise with the letter chosen on Monday night. Mayor Stan Pulliam stated he felt the language in parts could be stronger, but that he was also willing to compromise.

The letter essentially calls for the governor to ease restrictions on disproportionately affected businesses, such as restaurants and gyms, and on families, while acknowledging that some restrictions are necessary and the council recognizes "that the COVID-19 restrictions issued with the intent of saving lives have also created significant burdens on local communities."

The letter also lists steps the city of Sandy has taken on its own to support small businesses within city limits, saying: "During the past year, our City has taken multiple measures to alleviate the unintended negative consequences of the COVID-19 restrictions, including providing relief grants to local businesses, instituting a financing program for new outdoor seating structures, and providing additional WiFi hotspots through our municipal broadband utility, SandyNet."

"Our local businesses have also gone to great lengths and incurred significant expense to ensure the safety of their patrons," the letter added, highlighting councilors' argument as to how some closed businesses might safely reopen. "These measures are reflective of our community's desire to find innovative solutions to the challenges presented by this pandemic."

There were slight differences between the two drafts, with the chosen letter mentioning the effects of the restrictions not only on businesses, but on the emotional and mental health of residents.

That said, both conveyed the same message: a call for empathy.

"We believe it is possible for businesses to reopen in a safe manner using methods such as mask requirements, reduced occupancies, proper sanitation, and advanced air filtration/air exchange technology," councilors wrote. "We also believe that restrictions on family gatherings can be similarly eased while employing proper safety measures and precautions.

"Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, addressing this crisis with innovation and creativity, along with State-directed grants for struggling small businesses, would protect public health while ensuring that communities remain dynamic and vital now and when the pandemic concludes."

All seven members of the council agreed to send this letter and will sign it before it's sent to the governor.

A revised version of the letter is available to view online.

Contact your councilors

• Mayor Stan Pulliam

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• Council President Jeremy Pietzold, Position No. 1

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• Councilor Laurie Smallwood, Position No. 2

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• Councilor Rich Sheldon, Position No. 3

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• Councilor Kathleen Walker, Position No. 4

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• Councilor Carl Exner, Position No. 5

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• Councilor Don Hokanson, Position No. 6

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