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Thank you for voting to require face masks

By Staff | Jul 7, 2020

To the editor:

The Sanibel City Council recently voted 3-1 to require face masks in public spaces on Sanibel. Vice Mayor Mick Denham and Councilmembers Holly Smith and Richard Johnson were courageous to vote in favor of the measure. At a time when COVID-19 is spiking in Florida and Sanibel has recently had four new cases, this is the smartest move in the interests of public health.

It seems telling that Mayor Kevin Ruane, who has resigned as of November because he is running for the Lee County Commission, was absent “due to a family emergency.” While that is an excused absence, it allows him to avoid going on the record one way or the other at a time when the pandemic on Sanibel needs his leadership.

Councilman Jason Maughan, who is running for the seat now held by State Rep. Ray Rodrigues and faces a primary race later this summer, was the lone vote against mandating face masks. His reasons included that he didn’t want to go against Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Lee County commissioners. But, DeSantis has deferred to the judgment of local leaders on the issue of face masks and, even when Lee County earlier instituted beach restrictions, the city of Sanibel kept our beaches open throughout this pandemic. So Maughan’s arguments seem faulty.

We are all in this pandemic together and need to look out for each other. That’s why wearing face masks in public spaces is so critical until the virus is contained. We owe thanks to all who sent letters and e-mails to the city council in favor of a mandate on face masks. We especially owe thanks to Denham, Smith and Johnson, who put Sanibelians’ health ahead of politics.

Alison Ward