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Hancock debates social distancing, rental ordinance

HANCOCK — At Hancock’s regular City Council meeting on Wednesday night, one citizen asked the council to make a statement about COVID-19 precautions, particularly masking.

The council discussed making a resolution.

Councilor Will Lytle pointed out that new strains of the virus, and not knowing if those who have been vaccinated can still transmit coronavirus, could mean masking “would be recommended for a long time into the future…”. He also reminded everyone that earlier in the meeting they honored two former city managers who had both died of COVID-19.

Mayor Paul LaBine reminded people that masks are not the only thing that is recommended to slow the spread of the illness.

“I don’t like the term social distancing,” he said. “I prefer physical distancing.”

He also said traditional “common sense” actions like washing hands and staying home when sick and said he’d be willing to support such a resolution.

Councilor John Haeussler said while he didn’t have a strong opinion on whether the council should make a statement as a group, he planned to make a personal statement.

“I don’t want the council to have a very mixed message about it,” he said. “And it’s obviously a hot-button topic.”

LaBine said that was probably the best way to approach it. During the council’s comment time, Haeussler made his statement.

“I’m going to use a lot of generalities,” he started, “and even in generalities, I’m probably going to offend some people.”

Haeussler called the coronavirus situation a public health crisis, not a political one, despite posturing by state and national officials.

“I’ve heard a lot about freedoms, and I heard a lot about rights,” he said. “But I’ve heard very little about people speaking to responsibilities.”

He said he and the community have been witness to “political zeal.”

“I would characterize it as selfishness and actions of irresponsibility that are not in the best interest of the community,” he said.

He said it takes more than shouting the loudest or being the snarkiest to find solutions and be a leader.

“Not everyone that holds a leadership position has exuded the qualities of leadership in my opinion,” Haeussler said. “And I just want to end by encouraging everyone, not just the elected officials, but everyone to reflect on what our personal responsibilities are…”

Councilor Whitney Warstler concurred with Haeussler’s statement. No other councilors spoke on the matter.

The council also voted 6-1 to approve the amendment to the rental ordinance considered at the public hearing earlier in the evening. Coverage of the discussion will be in a following issue of the Gazette.

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