Mayor defends emergency orders

Masks in Yukon are for food servers, cooks and bartenders

Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby

Yukon’s Mayor Shelli Selby defended the city’s emergency proclamation that requires restaurant food servers, cooks and bartenders to wear masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, commenting on the contentious issue at the end of a city council meeting.

During the Tuesday, Aug. 4 Yukon City Council meeting, Vice Mayor Jeff Wootton proposed a repeal of the possible $700 fine for violators of the emergency proclamation, but the council voted 3-2 to uphold the fine. Wootton echoed other recent complaints by area politicians about mask mandates and said he thought the Mayor’s authority was “over-reaching.”

State Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, has said the mask mandate for restaurant and bar workers is unconstitutional.

State Rep. Jay Steagall

Selby filed a police report against Steagall claiming she has been harassed by the legislator.

Selby referenced a commentary by Conrad Dudderar in the Aug. 1 edition of The Yukon Progress with her closing remarks at the Tuesday meeting. Selby took the Mayor’s seat in May after Mike McEachern’s term ended. McEachern had signed the first Yukon emergency proclamation in March at the beginning of the pandemic.

“This has been a hard start, as Conrad wrote in the paper,” Selby said. “But I don’t take lightly what I do. Do I have the power to mandate? Yes. Did I make it more like Mayor McEachern did when he shut down the city? I could. Do I want to? No. I don’t feel right now currently that is the need for our city. But we look at those numbers daily. And I look at the people. And we have another death in Yukon.”

“ The difference here is that I want you to know I am not looking for political power I am not looking to become a career politician like some. I listen to the people around me. I listen to the city.”

She said two weeks ago in a study session the council discussed the proclamation. And three out of two on the council agreed with the proclamation as written.

Councilman Aric Gilliland, Ward IV, and Vice Mayor Wootton opposed the emergency proclamation and asked the city ordinance change to require a vote of the council on any such action by the Mayor.

The Yukon City Council in 1968 voted to give the Mayor the authority to enact emergency orders in the event of a natural or other type of disaster.

Selby asked City Attorney Gary Miller at the Tuesday meeting if a pandemic falls under the category of an emergency, and he said it does.

“But as Aric and Jeff have been asking all along with their input for a vote for an official ordinance rather than a proclamation if that, and only the council, if it is council and only the council that requests that from us then we will take it to a vote. It will not be due to Rep. Steagall, it will not be due to the anti-maskers, the Facebook people who have become politicians, doctors, lawyer wannabes. It will not even be because the city manager asks that we take that to a vote, because this week I want to hear from the city council and if they want to make an official masks for servers, cooks and bartenders ordinance then we will do that. But it will be because this city council who you have elected to represent this city and look out for the well-being of everybody, there is a group here but there is also a big group here and we want to protect everybody. But if that is the council’s wishes then that is what we will do at our next city council meeting but only if it is the council’s wishes.”