By Alexander Lomax
Depending on your general views of governance as well as whether you agree with who is in charge at the moment, the separation of federal, state and local rules and regulations can be seen as both positive and negative. This has been pushed out to the forefront with the Covid pandemic: grumbling can be found across the political spectrum, about lackadaisical or overly constrictive state and local restrictions depending on your location, and concerns that federal guidance is both too lax and egregious overreach.
Meanwhile, reasonable folk just want a policy that allows us to move closer towards normalcy while following science, best practices, and common sense. And speaking as someone in this bucket, I feel compelled to give Scottsdale Mayor Dave Ortega credit where it is due for deftly walking the line of sanity and soundness in his Covid responses since his inauguration.
A day after he took office, he reinstated Scottsdale’s mask mandate at a time when the state was leading the country in new cases and deaths. While it seems common sense, common sense isn’t often so common in politics; previous attempts to do this had been thwarted and were only possible with new council members. However, bolstered by CDC guidance he reversed course recently, rescinding the mask mandate. With Scottsdale’s vaccination rates amongst the best in the country, it was a reasonable and prudent decision that balanced data with both our public health needs and our collective desire for normalcy.
Such reasonable leadership seems unfortunately rare in our polarized world. Bombastic declarations of opening up without restriction have almost certainly caused significant and unnecessary suffering and death in states like Texas and Florida, as their governors seem more interested in lining up for higher office than their current constituency. On the flip side of that coin, some blue states have continued with policies that are often arbitrary, nowhere near as adaptive as the virus itself, and are seemingly resistant to any attempts to regain normalcy. Governor Kate Brown in Oregon comes to mind; she recently balked at the Portland Trailblazers (NBA) petition to have 1,900 fully vaccinated and masked fans admitted to their games. She only reversed that decision after significantly public (and player) outcry. While prioritizing safety is important, our collective mental health and enjoyment should calculate into the equation as well.
Many, many places in America have not walked that line effectively. Sometimes they are caving to public opinion, lobbyist desire, or political ambition. Sometimes they don’t understand science and are beholden to external opinions with their own biases. Whatever the case may be, those leaders who consider the science along with the opinions of the constituency and find that balance deserve recognition. And Mayor Dave Ortega has just done that, and in my opinion deserves recognition. Scottsdale is positioning itself well to rebound stronger than ever.