UPDATED: City councilors declare Woodland ‘sanctuary city’ from Governor’s orders and phased reopening

Council majority approved a resolution in defiance of the state, Mayor declined to enact

**UPDATE 06/05/2020**

Woodland Mayor, Will Finn, chose not to enact this council resolution. He said the city is already well on its way to reopening, and would follow the governor’s phased plan. Finn also said he was concerned that the resolution would allow businesses to defy the governor’s orders, only to face fines from state agencies.


WOODLAND — In a 4-3 split, the members of the Woodland City Council voted to approve a resolution that declares Woodland a “sanctuary city’’ from Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home orders and phased reopening amid COVID-19.  

A sign welcoming people to Woodland on the edge of town. Photo by Mike Schultz
A sign welcoming people to Woodland on the edge of town. Photo by Mike Schultz

The resolution seeks mayoral approval and was initiated by Council Member Dave Plaza. In a lengthy statement during Monday’s meeting, Plaza shared his thoughts on how he thinks families and business owners are being hurt by the orders. 

“COVID isn’t the killer the initial models predicted,” Plaza said. “If liquor stores, pot stores, grocery stores and other places where a large number of people can be gathered can be open, there is no reason smaller businesses that see a fraction of the number of people per day the others do, can ‘t be open as well.”   

The resolution would continue to not require Woodland Police to directly enforce the restrictions from Olympia, but instead issue notifications and communicate best practices to business owners. 

The resolution would also eliminate any action on the part of the city to regulate or fine businesses that defy the state order. Fines and retribution from the state could still be sought, however.  

Plaza was joined by Council Member Benjamin Fredricks, who also shared his concern over the ongoing orders.

“I initially supported the governor’s ‘Stay at Home’ order, for a certain period of time,” Fredricks said. “But at some point it crossed over in my mind, to unacceptable. It is my opinion that the people of Washington are not being governed, they are being ruled. Make no mistake, these executive orders are not laws, they are royal decrees.”   

Woodland, which stands on the knife edge of Clark and Cowlitz counties, is technically in Phase 2 of the governor’s reopening plan. Clark County still remains on pause in Phase 1, after more cases of COVID-19 sprang up at the Firestone Pacific Foods fruit packing plant in Vancouver.

Plaza and Fredricks were joined by Council Members Janice Graham and Carol Rounds. Council Members Karl Chapman, Monte Smith and DeAnna Holland opposed the resolution.   

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to bring unnecessary attention to our city,” Holland said. “Anything that could possibly give businesses the opportunity to get themselves in trouble with outside agencies like labor and industries or employment security.” 

Both Graham and Rounds took several seconds to decide their votes, and said it was a tough decision.