The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly on Monday approved an amended resolution regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.
There were two separate COVID-19 resolutions up for consideration. The first, proposed by Borough Mayor Rodney Dial, asked businesses not to deny services based on a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status or refusal to provide that information. That resolution failed Monday night due to lack of motion.
The second, proposed by assembly members Judith McQuerry and Austin Otos, encourages citizens to get the COVID-19 vaccine. They argued vaccinating the Ketchikan community would help the economy reopen, while also recognizing an individual’s right to choose.
Over the course of more than two hours of discussion, three amendments were brought forward for discussion.
The first, proposed by Assembly Member David Landis added wording similar to that in Mayor Dial’s proposal, urging businesses not to discriminate against people who aren’t vaccinated. The amendment passed 5-2 with McQuerry and Assembly Member Felix Wong voting against.
The second amendment, proposed by Assembly Member A.J. Pierce, added a recital recognizing the different issues and circumstances each member of the community faces and acknowledging, especially in a time of crisis, every citizen deserves to be treated with kindness and good will. That amendment passed unanimously.
The third amendment was added to a section encouraging citizens to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but stating that each community member needs to make an educated decision in deciding if getting the vaccine is right for them. The amendment passed 5-2 with McQuerry and Wong voting against.
Assembly Member Jeremy Bynum noted in some sections, the resolution recognized the vaccine is not mandatory, but in others indicated people could “opt out.” He felt these were contradictions. He proposed an amendment to remove the phrase “opt out.” The amendment failed due to lack of a second.
After considering delaying action, the Assembly chose to vote on the amended resolution that combined language from Mayor Dial’s original non-discrimination initiative. It passed 6-1 with Bynum voting against.
The resolution is non-binding.