'Their home is a sanctuary the governor has no right ... to violate'; Rep. Breese Iverson also urges governor to reconsider
PRINEVILLE, Ore. KTVZ) – Crook County Sheriff John Gautney has written a letter to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, sympathizing with her “predicament” over how to curb COVID-19’s spread but also critical of the two-week freeze and refusing to have deputies issue citations for not wearing a mask or having too large a Thanksgiving gathering.
In the letter sent Thursday and posted on the sheriff’s office Facebook page, Gautney said Brown’s comment that Oregon State Police would work with local law enforcement to enforce the mandates “has created serious erosion between the governor’s office and law enforcement, in my opinion.”
Gautney said Oregon's sheriffs “made it clear from the beginning that our role in this mandate will be that of education to the public and by asking for voluntary compliance. I will not change from that direction from which we have been from the start.”
Noting that he’s not speaking for the state sheriff’s association or any counterparts, Gautney wrote, “As the sheriff of Crook County, I will not have my deputies issuing citations for not wearing a mask or based on who they have for Thanksgiving at their home.”
“Their home is a sanctuary that the governor has no right under law, or the Constitution, to be able to violate,” he wrote.
The precautions called for by the state are "common sense," Gautney said, but he added, "It is not something that can be forced upon the citizens by a government mandate."
Gautney said rural counties such as Crook County "cannot be placed in the same category" as the Portland area in such matters.
"The one-size-fits-all plan does not work on the rural side of the state," he wrote. "The business owners and citizens have reached a point that they are fed up with losing their livelihood due to the state-ordered shutdown, without any real justification or evidence that they are the cause of increased cases."
"People have to be allowed to have the ability to use their common sense and get on with their lives," Gautney said.
Gautney asked Brown “to lift the mandates and allow our economy to survive, if that is possible at this point.”
“The people need to have facts, and not statements from the government that is designed to create fear,” Gautney wrote, noting that in Crook County, “We have only 12 active cases in our county, with a population of roughly 23,000 people. That is an extremely low percentage and in no way does it justify the extreme violation of the rights of the people.”
Gautney said his “heart goes out” to those who have lost loved ones, but added, “I fear that we are going to lose a great many more to suicide and our mental health population is going to increase beyond our ability to provide care for.”
“Governor Brown, you need to open our counties for business, allow churches to hold services and schools to open, or I fear we will see something far worse than we have ever seen before,” the sheriff wrote. “We are able to continue to have reasonable restrictions in place and still be open for business. You have the power to change for the betterment of our state and still be able to protect those who are the most vulnerable to this virus.”
There was no word from Gautney or the governor's office of any response or statement by the governor.
State Rep. Vikki Breese Iverson sounded a similar note in her news release on Friday, repeated below in full:
Representative Vikki Breese Iverson believes families need Thanksgiving this year.
Prineville, OR. - Representative Vikki Breese Iverson, House District 55, calls on Governor Brown to immediately reconsider the multi-layered hits to Oregonians this week. At a time when we should be giving thanks for our abundance, Oregonians are struggling to hold onto their businesses, keep their families intact and not lose their mental health in the midst of scare tactics and skyrocketing unemployment insurance.
Representative Breese Iverson stated, “We need to trust Oregonians to act responsibly for themselves. I believe in the good spirit of our people and have faith that everyone will make the right decision when it comes to their health and those around them.”
Breese Iverson continued, “My challenge to the Governor is be real about the definition of her own term ‘Most Vulnerable.’ I believe our most vulnerable encompasses our at-risk elderly, as much as our kids struggling with no peer connection; our small businesses struggling with continuous Executive Orders; our agricultural community struggling with numerous and expensive new OSHA regulations; the list goes on but the result is the same – thousands of Oregonians feeling displaced, alone and unheard.”
Suicide rates and other mental health illnesses are on the raise in Oregon and across the United States. We can trust Oregonians to be personally responsible, which needs to start now.
“I am disappointed Governor Brown continues to roll out Executive Orders. I hope that she will fulfill her oath of office to protect our most vulnerable citizens - all of them.” - Representative Breese Iverson concluded.