By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
The mayors of a dozen small Oregon cities held a virtual meeting Tuesday saying they planned to open up businesses in their towns despite state rules that are keeping them closed.
Among those who participated was the mayor-elect of Prineville.
Jason Beebe was the only participant from the tri-county area in Tuesday’s virtual meeting of the Main Street Mayors Coalition.
The coalition describes itself as a peaceful, non-partisan organization dedicated to supporting candidates and measures that stand up for small businesses threatened by government overreach.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to open businesses and let them thrive. We have a lot of businesses that are about ready to go and I don’t want to see that,” Beebe said.
The Main Street Mayors Coalition says it will support businesses that safely open on January 1 even if the state says businesses in “Extreme Risk” communities should remain closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties are all in the extreme risk category.
Redmond Mayor George Endicott, who did not participate in the Mayors Coalition meeting, says he understands the plight of small-town businesses.
But he disagrees with the idea of opening businesses in defiance of state health guidelines.
“Let’s just say I did tell the businesses ‘Go ahead, open up, defy the governor.’ What ends up happening is the state agencies, OLCC, OSHA come in and fine them or shut them down,” Endicott said. “Who are they going to blame? ‘The mayor said we could open…'”
Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam says allowing malls and grocery store chains to continue operating while locally owned main street businesses are forced to close will harm the economies of Oregon’s smaller cities.
Prineville Mayor-elect Beebe says there’s no harm in listening to what the Main Street Mayors Coalition has to say.
“Maybe this gives us a stronger voice. Maybe we can come together with ideas of how to safely open and up and let these businesses thrive again.”
Beebe will be sworn in on January 4th as Prineville’s next mayor after serving 10 years as a city councilor.
Here’s a full list of the mayors involved in the coalition.
Paul Aziz, Lebanon Mayor
Jason Beebe, Prineville Mayor-Elect
Brian Cooper, Fairview Mayor
Rod Cross, Toledo Mayor
Sean Drinkwine, Estacada Mayor
Kelly Grassman, Mt. Angel Mayor
Brian Hodson, Canby Mayor
Scott Keyser, Molalla Mayor-Elect
Randy Lauer, Troutdale Mayor-Elect
Rich Mays, The Dalles Mayor
Stan Pulliam, Sandy Mayor
Mary Schamehorn, Bandon Mayor
You can read their group’s press release below:Main Street Mayors release 12-23-20