A limited number of area citizens will have the opportunity to provide brief testimony by phone to the members of the Clark County Council
The efforts of dozens of volunteers and support of 11,505 Clark County citizens over the past few months will culminate Tuesday evening when members of the Clark County Council will preside over a public meeting to address a mini initiative petition to stop vaccine mandates in Clark County.
The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 1). County officials have indicated that “due to public health concerns, the public will not be able to provide in-person public testimony at council hearings.’’ Citizens have been invited to provide testimony for the record by submitting them through the Clark County Council website.
Verbal public comments over the phone will be limited to two minutes each, with a total of two hours of public testimony, meaning a maximum of 60 people will be allowed to speak to the councilors about the issue.
Area resident Rob Anderson began the effort last fall. He and many other citizens believed the forced vaccination mandates, as well as other mandates that aren’t equally applied, ultimately discriminate and should be challenged. The summary statement on the petition reads as follows:
AN ORDINANCE prohibiting all mandates within Clark County that discriminate against citizens regarding their health status and or that violates existing rights to health information privacy.
Volunteers quickly picked up mini initiative petitions, placing them at area businesses and collecting signatures from friends and neighbors. Hundreds of supporters attended an anti-mandate rally on Oct. 30 in Vancouver.
On Nov. 30, Anderson and Vancouver attorney Angus Lee presented 11,505 signed petitions to Cathie Garber, Clark County Elections supervisor. The proponents needed 8,311 signatures for the mini initiative to be valid. After a 30-day window to validate the signatures, the County Council then had 60 days to hold a public meeting, after which the councilors will have a 30-day time limit to make a decision.
“We call on the Clark County Council to ban all mandates within Clark County that discriminate against citizens regarding their health status and or that violate existing rights to health information privacy,” Anderson said as he welcomed the crowd at the Nov. 30 rally. “Citizens in Clark County have united together and said no more mandates,” he said. “We aren’t anti vax, or anti COVID. We’re anti discrimination in tyranny.”
Rep. Vicki Kraft (Republican, 17th District) has been an outspoken supporter of the mini initiative.
“The Washington and US Constitution guarantee and protect individual rights and freedoms,” Kraft said at the Nov. 30 rally. “We have seen for way too long now, almost two years, the governor and the majority party’s abuse of the emergency powers to push their agenda and their mandate on people who are not interested in that agenda, and certainly not in putting vaccines into their body.”
Anderson shared with Clark County Today that the volunteers had gotten signatures from people of all political persuasions. They included vaccinated people, unvaccinated people, and people who had recovered from COVID.
Anderson is very disappointed in the decision by councilors to limit public testimony to two minutes as well as limit his own testimony to five minutes. He cited examples of other public meetings held by the council that did not have similar constraints.
“The councilors voted last week 3-1 with (Gary) Medvigy, (Karen) Bowerman and Temple (Lentz) voting in favor of it and Eileen (Quiring O’Brien) voting against it,” Anderson said.
“They will reduce public comment to two minutes and cut off the mic at that point and they will only allow me five minutes to give an argument for the petition. That is really telling me that they do not appreciate and do not value the historic nature and the importance for people to petition and be heard. They don’t want us to be heard.’’
Anderson is also enraged by public comments Councilor Lentz made in a recent social media post, which she supported with a more extensive rebuttal of the actual petition in a social media post Sunday. Lentz summarized her opposition to the petition with this conclusion:
“The costs for multiple lawsuits that would also result from the county council’s passage of an ordinance that violates state and federal law and overreaches its authority into cities will also be borne by taxpayers,’’ Lentz wrote. “Clark County residents have already paid the costs for multiple lawsuits based on bad policy decisions.
“Which gets to the final, and simplest, point which supersedes everything,’’ Lentz added. “Counties are subdivisions of and thus subordinate to the state. State government is subordinate to the federal government. If Clark County passes a law that violates state and/or federal laws or orders, it will be unenforceable and it will harm Clark County and its people.’’
Anderson said he is dismayed by the fact that Lentz and the other councilors are receiving legal advice from Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik. Golik confirmed to Clark County Today that he has counseled the members of the County Council but that his instruction to them is privileged unless the privilege is waived by the councilors.
“Temple Lentz puts her followers on high alert and really misinforms the public about what the petition does,’’ Anderson said. “The most interesting part is that she reveals that in the midst of having an opportunity to end medical discrimination and to preserve individual medical freedoms that certain members of the council are taking their marching orders from Democratic lawyers to squash it. That’s who they are listening to. Does our government and elected leaders work for us or do they work for each other to keep us in check? That is what’s at stake here.’’
For more information on the mini initiative effort, including information about Tuesday’s public meeting, go to www.ClarkCountyGroup.com.