Watertown City Council defeats mask mandate on 5-4 vote (Audio)

November 17, 2020
Mike Tanner

WATERTOWN, S.D.–As COVID-19 cases surge across South Dakota, individual cities are taking up the issue of mandating face masks.

The Watertown City Council had a lengthy debate on that topic Monday night, and in the end, voted 5-4 against it.

Councilman Don Roby preferred an ad campaign that would “encourage” but not “mandate” mask wearing. Roby tells KWAT News the resolution had some holes in it….

Councilman Ried Holien said government needs to be careful in mandating one’s behavior. He preferred contining to stress the importance of social distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home if you’re sick.

Dr. Dan Reiffenberger says that’s exactly what’s been encouraged for the last nine months, with little results.

When the dust settled, the mask mandate was defeated by a single vote. Favoring the mandate were councilmembers Michael Heuer, Beth Mantey, Bruce Buhler and Dan Albertsen.

Voting “no” were Holien, Roby, Adam Lalim, Glen Vilhauer and Jason Redemske.

Councilman Josh Weyh was absent.

Codington County has recorded 30 deaths from COVID-19, with more than 500 active cases currently.

The Mitchell City Council passed a mask mandate Monday night. The Sioux Falls City Council will take up a mandate again tonight after previously defeating one November 10th.