At the Nov. 2 meeting of the Dyersville City Council, councilmembers unanimously agreed it was time for the city to take an official stance by encouraging citizens to wear masks and follow other guidelines issued by the CDC, stopping just short of issuing a mandate, but a lot has changed since then.
With the Dubuque County Supervisors passing a mask mandate that goes into effect Nov. 18 and news of Governor Kim Reynolds’ mandate breaking during the Nov. 16 meeting, the council decided to call an audible and amend the resolution before them rather than tabling it for revision and revote at its Dec. 7 meeting.
If the Dyersville City Council would have passed a resolution that only encouraged mask usage when the Dubuque County Supervisors and the Governor are mandating it, two councilmembers thought that could send a mixed message to the populace.
“I wouldn’t want people to think that ‘Dyersville doesn’t agree (with Reynolds and the Supervisors) so we can go to Dyersville where they recommend mask-wearing but don’t necessarily feel like you should have to,’” Councilman Tom Westhoff said. “That’s just my concern. I’d rather be on the same page as those entities than look like we have our own approach.”
Councilwoman Jenny Ostwinkle Silva initially said she was fine with tabling the matter but was later swayed by Westhoff’s sentiment, agreeing that clarifying the council’s stance and passing the resolution Monday was the right move.
On the topic of Dyersville issuing its own mandate, Mayor Jim Heavens said from his perspective as an elected city official, there are two major issues: first, he doesn’t believe Dyersville has the authority to issue a mask mandate because unlike the county, the state or even larger municipalities, Dyersville doesn’t have a Public Health Board, and second, and perhaps more pressing, is the matter of enforcement.
Councilman Mike English asked if Dyersville had any authority under the home rule amendment of the Iowa Constitution, but City Administrator Mick Michel said he doesn’t believe it does.
“The State Attorney General ruled that we don’t,” Michel said. “But I think the governor does, and the county has that jurisdiction and authority that they have exercised. Ultimately, we do know that the governor has that authority and she issued (a mandate) tonight.”
Following the discussion, the council unanimously passed the resolution, instructing Michel to amend the language to state it “concurs” with the actions of the governor and Dubuque County Supervisors and encourages the public to follow the mandates.