Editorial: Proposal by Mathews, Henry simple, direct and fair

Considering the way we’ve worked ourselves into a frenzy over face masks, it’s nice to see that calm and reason prevailed in the push back against Cottonwood Mayor Tim Elinski’s mayoral mask mandate.

Tuesday, the Cottonwood City Council will consider the first reading of an ordinance that would, in effect, tie the hands of the mayor from trumping a council vote with a mayoral proclamation.

At the same time, the draft ordinance prepared by Vice Mayor Michael Mathews and Council Member Tosca Henry does not have the power to revoke the mayor’s June 19 emergency proclamation. Further, it does not take such power from the mayor.

It simply binds him to any and all votes of the full city council.

In all honesty, Mayor Elinski is getting what he deserves. Elinski is guilty of doing the right thing the wrong way. In hindsight, he probably will be the first to admit he played a bad political hand by calling for a vote on mandatory masks, and then playing his mayoral veto card.

As a point of comparison, it’s interesting to note that Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig and Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty have gone unscathed for their emergency decrees that mandate masks. The only difference is that they did it without first asking their council colleagues to vote on the matter.

A lesson learned for Mayor Elinski.

Also, kudos to Vice Mayor Mathews and Council Member Henry for using level heads and sound reasoning in how they chose to deal with Elinski’s blunder. They are doing nothing more than making him live with the vote of the full city council, whether he agrees with the outcome or not. Their proposed ordinance is simple, direct and fair. There is no harm in making it part of Cottonwood’s city code.

Going forward, Mayor Elinski’s 30-day mask mandate is set to expire in about two weeks. Because it was done in opposition to a full vote of the council, Elinski should let that proclamation expire.

For one day.

Then, the mayor should order a new emergency proclamation for the continued benefit of public health in Cottonwood. Don’t take it to council. Just do it. Mayor Elinski should consider an order that has more bite and less bark. He should consider consequences for individuals and businesses who blatantly ignore the order. He should make it last “until further notice” instead of 30 days.

Common sense and human kindness have not prevailed in our effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona, the Verde Valley or Cottonwood. Where common sense has failed us in this public health crisis, government intervention is necessary.

The mask mandate needs to continue.

Just don’t ask the city council to vote on it.

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