MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County lawmakers are slated to vote on two motions that support constitutional rights and ask for alternatives to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
According to the agenda from the Clerk of the Legislature, the motions call on state and federal leaders to keep their legislative and executive powers within the bounds of their “constitutional authority” and call on New York to consider alternatives to vaccination mandates for healthcare workers.
Residents first took a stand against New York State’s COVID-19 Vaccine mandate for healthcare workers and called for a “Constitutional Sanctuary” during last month’s Legislature meeting.
During the county executive debate between incumbent Republican PJ Wendel and Democratic challenger Norm Green the two were asked about the idea.
Green warned against it, saying the motions might scare developers away from the area.
“This is just an absurd idea, the only companies we are going to be attracting are companies that produce pillows, or companies that produce confederate flags,” explained Green.
Wendel, meanwhile, defended the concept.
“Insulting the people that want to protect rights is backwards thinking, what we are doing is protecting all New Yorkers, this is not going to be a haven for those who want to avoid the mandates, this is going to be our counties commitment, as was Cattaraugus Counties, to uphold the constitution,” countered Wendel.
Nevertheless, Green, along with a few other county lawmakers, feel this is a bad move because it discourages the science.
“He’s giving cover to people that will not get vaccinated, and maybe they would have gotten vaccinated if he wasn’t giving cover to them, he’s telling these people, it’s okay, it’s a constitutional county, you don’t have to do this,” said Green. “It’s my health that we are talking about, it is our health we are taking about, and again, we went to 200 dead yesterday.”
In the end, Wendel explains it comes down to person choice.
“The vaccine is a choice, the same people that say, ‘my body, my choice,’ are the ones demanding a vaccine,” said Wendel. “The Governor has heard my voice very loud, along with the 18 other county executives in New York State, the mandate for healthcare workers is overburdening, it’s creating another healthcare crisis that is getting more and more difficult. Lakewood Fire Department waited two hours, two hours to drop off a patient, because we can’t get enough staff because of this.”
Since the original call for a sanctuary, a federal judge ruled there needs to be a religious exemption added to part of New York’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. The state plans to challenge the ruling, however.
The group ‘WNY Freedom Seekers’ are expected to gather outside of the county building in Mayville ahead of the meeting at 6 p.m. supporting the motion.