Across the country, many left-leaning cities and states have declared themselves “sanctuary jurisdictions” — places where illegal aliens know that local authorities are kept from co-operating with immigration officials.
One city in the very blue state of Oregon, however, has bucked the trend and declared itself a sanctuary for common sense, particularly regarding the state’s COVID restrictions that have devastated small businesses, PJ Media reported.
Baker City’s first-term mayor, Kerry McQuisten, said the concept came about after she was approached by some business owners following her inauguration earlier this year. “After we were all sworn in back on January 12th, local businesses brought forth to [city] council an idea of a Common Sense Sanctuary City,” she told PJ Media.
Businesses speak out
McQuisten explained that after almost a year of stringent lockdown measures and other restrictions from the state, the city’s small businesses spoke up.
“They were asking for local businesses to be able to adhere, or not adhere to the mask mandates, the OSHA [Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division] restrictions, as they saw fit individually,” McQuisten explained.
Additional support came during a city council town hall event in which members of the public could come and express their feelings and ideas. “Business owners poured in to give testimony,” McQuisten recalled. “Some questioned whether the city could protect them from state OSHA regulations and targeting by these agencies.”
A letter was subsequently sent by the city to Gov. Kate Brown (D) that outlined the city’s grievances and complained that the community had been excluded from Oregon’s decision-making process on dealing with the pandemic.
Idea catching on
The mayor says that no response came from Brown, which prompted the city council to take more decisive action. On March 23, it voted 5-2 on an emergency resolution to declare that a crisis had been created by the state’s COVID rules.
“Our businesses in Oregon have completely suffered,” McQuisten said. “There are lots of businesses that are just gone and cannot survive, nor should they be asked to.” However, she said that in addition to business failure, the COVID mandates have caused a decrease in residents’ mental health and an increase in crime.
“Our jail is in such a diminished capacity situation right now,” McQuisten said. “We have 45 beds we normally can fill. Right now, it’s down to 15, 20 beds. So, when someone is arrested, unless it’s a severely violent crime, they are cited and released and turned back out onto the streets.”
The mayor said the city’s actions appear to be catching on as “several other mayors across the state are looking at the resolution.”
“We’re hoping … that we can get enough coverage with the media, with other mayors, other county commissioners, possibly different areas in the state will pick this up and enact something similar of their own,” she said.