Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson cast a vote against a mask mandate because individuals must take personal responsibility, he said.
The Fort Myers City Council shot down a mandate at a special meeting on Thursday, NBC-2 reports. Instead, city officials encouraged private businesses to encourage the use of face coverings indoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommend the use of masks in public spaces when social distancing is not possible in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Henderson quickly took to social media to explain his vote. A candidate for Congress, he tied his justification to President Donald Trump.
“Today I proudly voted against a mandatory mask policy for the City of Fort Myers,” Henderson wrote on Facebook. “Look, I agree with Donald J. Trump —a mandatory mask policy is not feasible and is a gross overreach of government. It is up to the individual to take responsibility for their own health and respect their fellow citizen’s decision when they do the same.”
He shared a meme with the words “No mandatory masks” and the logo for his Congressional campaign.
Henderson is one of nine Republicans vying to succeed Rep. Francis Rooney in Congress. A recent poll commissioned by Florida Politics pegged him at fifth place in the field.
Masks have erupted as a hot political debate.
Henderson is the second municipal official seeking higher office in the region who touted a vote against requiring masks. Sanibel City Councilman Jason Maughan, a candidate for state House in District 76, cast the lone vote against a Sanibel mask requirement.
Lee County has not taken up the issue of requiring masks. Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach now require masks in indoor businesses and public places. Fort Myers joins Cape Coral in shooting a proposed order down.
More than 50 Florida municipalities now have some kind of face covering mandate in place.
Notably, both Maughan and Henderson earlier this year spoke in favor of a Lee County lockdown ahead of Gov. Ron DeSantis issuing a statewide order. Lee County Commissioners never put such an order in place, instead endorsed Surgeon General recommendations on social distancing.