The Baker City Council’s passage of a resolution blaming Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s COVID-19 restrictions for creating an “economic, mental health and criminal activity crisis” in the city has recently led to Mayor Kerry McQuisten giving interviews on radio, podcasts and television.
McQuisten was slated to appear on Fox News’ Primetime news program Monday evening, May 3.
“This is an excellent chance to be able to speak out about what we did here in the city,” McQuisten said on Monday morning.
Although the City Council approved Resolution 3881 by a 5-2 vote on March 23, the action has drawn widespread interest in just the past week or so, McQuisten said.
McQuisten, who was elected to the City Council in November 2020, took office in January 2021 and was elected mayor by a vote of the council.
She drafted Resolution 3881 in consultation with City Manager Jon Cannon and the city’s attorney.
“I want this to pass so that we can stand together with you guys and make a very loud statement that will hopefully spread across the state,” McQuisten said during the March 23 council meeting. “If we can get the media and other cities and other counties to listen to this and do something similar, that’s our only shot as far as I can see of getting the state and Salem to listen to us.”
The resolution blames Brown’s executive orders during the pandemic for pushing “businesses to the brink of permanent closure, creating a fiscal emergency and a devastated local economy.”
The resolution also contends that the governor’s orders, including face mask mandates, “are actively creating division and unrest with the increased potential of physical violence within our community as those of one opinion are encouraged by it to impose their opinions over the free will of those of another in a physical way ...”
McQuisten said she’s hearing from people across Oregon, including other mayors and elected officials, that Baker City is being seen as an epicenter of freedom.
On Monday, May 3, Stan Pulliam, mayor of Sandy, Oregon, announced that a lawsuit would be filed in federal court on behalf of several businesses and individuals, the Heart of Main Street and Oregon Moms Union, challenging Brown’s authority to issue executive orders related to the pandemic.
She said she has lost count of how many people she has spoken with about the resolution.
“Between the messages, the calls, and the emails, I am just about physically unable to respond to them all at this point,” McQuisten said. “It has been overwhelming. I have heard from people, citizens, county commissioners, other mayors, it’s been all over the state. And it’s not just on the east side of the state, it’s primarily on the west side I’m hearing from people.”
McQuisten said response to the resolution was relatively slow for the first few weeks after councilors approved it.
But on April 28, PJ Media published an online story about the resolution, including comments from McQuisten.
The momentum grew rapidly after that, she said.
“There were posts on some very large online groups such as Timber in Unity with 65,000 members, Open Oregon posted it, and from there it just went crazy,” McQuisten said.
McQuisten was interviewed on the Lars Larson radio program on Thursday, April 29.
She said The Blaze, an online media source started by conservative commentator Glenn Beck, also published a story last week about Baker City’s resolution, and that accelerated national interest in the topic.
“From the Blaze article, that’s where Fox host Pete Hegseth — he’s going to be moving from Fox and Friends to hosting Fox News Primetime this whole coming week — and Pete actually saw the Blaze article and it had a link to my mayor’s Facebook Page,” McQuisten said. “So, he checked all of that out and then he asked the Fox booking manager if he could get in touch with me if I would like to interview with him.”
Although the city’s resolution acknowledges that the city can neither legally ignore state mandates nor protect from state sanctions any businesses that flout the rules, McQuisten said she hopes the recent attention to the resolution will lead to changes in state restrictions.
“That was the intent of the resolution,” she said. “The first purpose was to give our citizens a voice. And the second purpose was to hopefully trigger a snowball effect across the state because right now we’re not being heard. If you ask a question of the governor that doesn’t fit in with the lockdown, it’s ignored. I mean, flat out ignored. Correspondence that people are sending, ignored. Requests for data are ignored. We just had a historic letter signed by 27 of our 36 counties, 80 county commissioners, and instead of listening to that feedback from all of these counties, she said ‘no, you’re wrong and I’m right’ and we weren’t even considered. So hopefully this resolution continues to put the pressure on so she has to hear us.”