The resolution also would have strongly encouraged individuals to wear face covering in commercial or other buildings open to the public where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
Mayor Mattie Parker joined Council Members Cary Moon, Gyna Bivens, Michael D. Crain and Leonard Firestone in rejecting the proposal. Council members Carlos E. Flores, Jared Williams, Elizabeth Beck and Chris Nettles voted in favor of the mandate.
“This resolution has a few things that bother me,” Parker said, moments before the vote was taken. “Any time you say something is mandatory and, at the bottom of it, say it’s not enforceable, it’s incredibly confusing, and you are putting the onus on city staff in libraries—our marshals and our police officers.”
Parker did note her appreciation for Beck and Nettles, who worked on crafting the proposal, but suggested there was more the city might do before implementing such a mandate. She also noted the complications from Gov. Greg Abbott’s order in May that prohibited local governmental entities from imposing a mask mandate.
“I appreciate that there is a need here to take precautions,” Parker said. “I do not think we’ve done everything we can do before we put mandatory mandates in city buildings.”
Moon and Firestone, whose Districts 4 and 7 cover northeast Fort Worth, both voted against the proposal. Beforehand, Moon suggested that the city might be better off directing its resources to therapeutic treatments, specifically citing COVID-19 antibody infusion centers that have been implemented in other Texas municipalities.
“I”m not going to support this motion—I view it as political theater and trying to make a statement over local control,” Moon said.
Firestone did not reveal his intention before the vote, but used his speaking time to clarify with city manager David Cooke that individuals entering city facilities who wished to wear a mask could be accommodated, which Cooke confirmed.
Bivens, who represents District 5, in her comments before the vote noted she has lupus and that, given the challenges of her own immune system, she takes matters related to COVID-19 very seriously. However, Bivens said that she took issue that city staff and employees who would be made to try to enforce the mandate were not consulted beforehand about the matter, noting the backlash they might face in having to do so.
“We can legislate a lot of stuff from this dais, but I think it’s important that we go deeper and see what do our employees [think]—how do they feel about this?” Bivens said, before indicating her intention to vote down the proposal. “Communication is very important.”