KINGMAN — A number of elected officials in northwest Arizona are upset with Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision to extend his stay-at-home executive directives to mid-May.
“I am disappointed that he essentially pushed this out another two weeks and I’m concerned that our folks will go another two weeks without being able to make a living,” said member Ron Gould during Thursday’s special Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting. “Americans are not going to tolerate a lockdown that’s not tight enough to stop the spread of the virus.”
Sup. Hildy Angius announced that she and the three local lawmakers have signed a letter mostly drafted by District 5 Rep. Leo Biasiucci. One excerpt asserts that some coronavirus restrictions in place in Arizona discriminates within the business community.
“How do we justify allowing hundreds of people to be in Walmart but a salon with three customers must be closed. Explain to me why someone can buy jewelry at Sam’s Club or Target but a small jewelry store is not deemed essential and must be closed,” the letter stated. “The stay-at-home order had flaws from the beginning because it allowed for government to pick winners and losers and the biggest loser has been the small businesses.”
Angius and Gould have expressed their view that Mohave County should prepare a roadmap of restrictions and guidelines for operation once businesses are allowed to reopen.
Sheriff Doug Schuster also expressed disappointment with extension of the governor’s order. While urging all citizens and businesses to accept personal responsibility to comply with personal hygiene and social distance advice, Schuster said citizens need not worry about overzealous enforcement from his department.
“It is my job to ensure that their freedoms and liberties are safeguarded. I am not going to make criminals out of law-abiding citizens that are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table,” Schuster said. “We at the sheriff’s office are not going to be the social distancing police.”
Schuster said his deputies will not be citing or arresting people for being non-compliant with social distance, group assembly and restaurant activity.
The sheriff’s stance drew praie from Gould and Angius.
“Thank you so much for erring on the side of the Constitution and liberty,” Angius said. “That’s what Mohave County is. It’s who we are. It’s in our DNA.”
Sup. Gary Watson repeated his concern that area lakes and rivers are inundated with visitors, he said many of them likely COVID-19 infected, while county residents are asked to stay home. Both he and Sup. Buster Johnson also expressed support for following the governor’s directives as much as possible.
Johnson, in particular, expressed concern that defiance could have state shared-revenue repercussions for Mohave County.
The board directed staff to use the Biasiucci letter as a template to prepare another letter that Mohave County would use as a position paper to send to the governor and state lawmakers. The letter will be reviewed, and possibly amended, before possibly being adopted for distribution during Monday’s board meeting.