BAKER CITY — Baker City Manager Jon Cannon has been busy over the past week carrying out the City Council’s order to look into a possible lawsuit challenging Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s mandate that health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Councilors voted unanimously during their Aug. 24 meeting to have Cannon investigate the city’s possible options.
Councilors heard during that meeting from residents who object to both the vaccine mandate, which also applies to teachers and other school workers, and to the requirement that students wear face masks while indoors at school.
Councilors discussed options including filing a lawsuit, or joining a lawsuit filed by another city or county.
Cannon said on Tuesday, Sept. 7 that he has been speaking with attorneys.
“I have a couple potentials for them to think about, but I haven’t gotten anything that the council has wanted to call a meeting for and talk about,” Cannon said.
He said he is gathering information to present to councilors at a future meeting.
Cannon said he has also received many phone calls from city, county and school district officials from across the state who are also interested in possible legal avenues to challenge the governor’s executive orders.
“From east to west, north to south, from a lot of different entities,” Cannon said.
Before and during the Council’s Aug. 24 meeting, a group of residents gathered outside City Hall to protest the vaccine and mask mandates.
Mayor Kerry McQuisten said the vaccine requirement, which applies to the city’s firefighter/paramedics, could result in employees resigning, leaving the fire department without critical staff.
Affected employees must either be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, or receive an exception on either medical or religious grounds.