Sanibel City Councilman Jason Maughan cast the lone vote against a face covering mandate.
A candidate for House District 76, the Sanibel Republican questioned the enforceability of a mask requirement.
“I stand with Governor [Ron] DeSantis and the Lee County Board of County Commissioners in not forcing citizens to wear a mask against their will,” said Maughan in a statement released by his campaign.
“We should be advising citizens to wear a mask when they can’t social distance and allow them the personal responsibility to make the choice for themselves.”
Sanibel on Tuesday became the first Lee County jurisdiction to issue a proclamation mandating the use of face coverings. At least 45 Florida municipalities have passed mask mandates in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The City Council voted 3-1 in favor, with many local businesses supporting the move, WINK News reports.
“I don’t think we should not pass legislation because we have difficulty enforcing it,” said Vice Mayor Mick Denham at the meeting. “I think it needs to be enforced, but I think it needs to be enforced with some care.”
Maughan doesn’t believe that’s possible, and said City Hall shouldn’t be in the business of passing rules it can’t ensure get followed.
“As it stands, I believe that the Mask Ordinance is unenforceable and will merely turn one Citizen against another, which breeds contempt for the law,” Maughan said. “There are not enough Code Officers to enforce this and Police Forces are under enough stress without them chasing down families or causing negative interactions with citizens.
“If citizens have concerns about COVID19 exposure, they should take it upon themselves to limit their interactions in public. They are free to wear a mask or make appropriate decisions to protect their health.”
Notably, Maughan was the only member of the Sanibel Council calling for a stricter response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before Gov. DeSantis issued a statewide lockdown order, Maughan proposed a stay-at-home order in the municipality. That was voted down by a 4-1 vote.
Maughan faces Bonita Springs businessman Adam Botana in a Republican primary. Democrat Anselm Weber will face the Republican nominee in November. Incumbent Ray Rodrigues did not seek another term because of term limits and is running for Senate.