BAKER CITY, OR (KPTV) - The mayor of Baker City in eastern Oregon is making national headlines after criticizing Gov. Kate Brown for her pandemic restrictions.
Business owners and other people who live in Baker City proposed the idea of a ‘common sense sanctuary’ to city council, which passed the resolution, Resolution 3881, on Mar. 23 by a 5-2 vote.
Baker County, which Baker City resides in, is one of many counties that moved into extreme risk last week. Baker City Mayor Kerry McQuisten blamed Brown’s restrictions, saying her city has mental health, economic and crime crises not because of the virus, but because of state mandates instead.
“Our intent was to give our citizens a voice. They felt, for the past year, they have not had a voice and they're being hurt at this point, and someone needed to stand up and speak loudly on their behalf. And our hope was, also, that this would spread across the state and pick up steam and that other cities and counties would jump on board and say the same,” said McQuisten.
While the resolution acknowledges the city cannot legally ignore Brown’s restrictions, McQuisten said she would support businesses who do.
“That’s not my decision. That’s the decision of each individual business owner. I mean, if I were in their position and I were facing losing everything I’ve worked my entire life to build, I would go down fighting,” she said.
McQuisten told FOX 12 the state guidelines are not a one size fits all situation, describing them for her city as arbitrary and nonsensical.
“I would like the governor to either open up Oregon or to turn that decision back over locally, turn it back over to the county level,” she said. “Baker County is not the same as Portland, not the same as Salem. Our needs are different, our situation is different. No one knows better than us, locally, what’s happening here.”
FOX 12 reached out to the governor's office two days in a row for a response to McQuisten's criticism. As of Tuesday evening, they had not returned our questions.