Oswego County Legislature approves resolution opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Local News

OSWEGO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – In a roll call vote, the Oswego County Legislature approved a resolution that opposes any COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed by federal, state, or local government.

The resolution comes as COVID-19 positivity rates continue to climb in Oswego County. Over the past week, there have been more than 500 new cases reported with a positivity rate of 10.89%. A spokesperson for the county also said there continue to be more hospitalizations and deaths in those who are unvaccinated.

Despite the resolution opposing vaccine mandates, it notes Oswego County “remains committed to encouraging all citizens who make the individual choice to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus to do so.”

Following a debate at the county legislative meeting, a majority of the legislators voted in favor of the resolution, including Chairman James Weatherup and Majority Leader Terry Wilbur.

In total, 20 legislators voted “yes”, 3 opposed the resolution and 2 legislators were excused due to being absent.

The resolution, GC-5, was proposed by Legislator David Holst, of District 4, who represents portions of Amboy, Hastings, Parish, Williamstown, and West Monroe.

Holst referenced New York State’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers as well as President Joe Biden’s legislation which requires businesses with 100 or more employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing.

The three legislators who voted against the resolution are Legislator James Karasek (R), who represents District 22 and serves as Chairman of the Health Committee, Oswego County Legislature Minority Leader Marie Scahdt (D), and Legislator Thomas Drumm (D) of District 16.

Drumm called for the roll call vote and was first on the floor to speak.

“I’m incredibly disappointed but not surprised to see the resolution before the Legislature this afternoon. It seems this body has made the decision to ignore common sense,” Drumm said. “It’s my opinion everyone should get vaccinated. Plain and simple.”

As it pertains to the Legislature, I’m disappointed to see us play into this political football. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: during these contentious political times nationally, local government should sift through the politics and stick to the facts and science. 700,000 dead nationally. 100 of our neighbors in Oswego County lost. 500+ new COVID positives in the last week, which completely bucks the national trend of decline, and we’re deciding that this is the resolution we’re focusing on today. Shame on us. Shame on us.

Legislator Thomas Drumm, (D) District 16

The three legislators who spoke in favor of the resolution opposing the mandate were Legislator Edward Gilson (R) of District 3, Legislator Nathan Emmons (R) who represents District 15 and serves on both the Public Safety and Health Committees, and Oswego County Legislature Majority Leader (R) Terry Wilbur.

Legislator Gilson was the first in favor of the resolution to speak before the Legislature, focusing on personal choice.

 “Our very liberties to make personal choices are being trampled on.”

LEGISLATOR EDWARD GILSON, (r) district 3

Legislator Gilson said during his remarks he made the decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine but wanted to show support for those who have chosen and are choosing not to get the shot.

“It was my right, as it is the right of everyone in Oswego and in our nation,” Gilson explained. “I’m proud to be here today to support our citizens in maintaining those rights and those liberties, and I think if we vote today to pass this resolution opposing vaccine mandates, we can all go away proud knowing that we’ve done our job for our citizens.”

Following Gilson, Legislator Nathan Emmons began his remarks by reading the Declaration of Independence.

We have not a responsibility, we have an obligation as this body to say “no” to any mandate that violates this very declaration and our constitution. We have an absolute right, as our forefathers said to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Mandates are a violation of that liberty.

Legilsator Nathan Emmons, (R) District 15

Oswego County Legislature’s Majority Leader Terry Wilbur was the last to take the floor before the roll call vote.

Wilbur cited the strain on our hospitals and how the state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers is impacting the entire community.

 “I stand for that U.S. Constitution. I stand for the flag, and I’ll be supporting this resolution, opposing this mandate because I think it’s wrong.”

MAJORITY LEADER TERRY WILBUR, (R) DISTRICT 21

In a statement sent to NewsChannel 9, a spokesperson for Oswego County wants to clear up any confusion involving the county’s stance on vaccines and vaccine mandates:

The legislative intent behind this resolution was simply to state that they believe vaccinations should be a personal choice and that no one should be forced to get one against their will.  Our support for personal protective measures, including vaccines,  in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is clear.  Oswego County urges everyone eligible to get vaccinated in every weekly COVID update that we post and in each of the Chairman’s video statements addressing this matter.  The Resolution was an action to officially add legislators’ collective voices to that of others who believe vaccination to be a matter of personal choice.

David Turner, Director of Community Development, Tourism & Planning, Oswego County

It’s important to note: Oswego County nor any other local municipality can not overrule vaccine mandates that are already in place by the state and federal government.

You can watch the Oswego County Legislature’s meeting in full by clicking here.

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