Lynne Hermanson
Special to The Gardner News
Gardner City Council met for the first time July 6 since Kansas State Governor Laura Kelly’s mask mandate. With the exception of council members Mark Baldwin and Rich Melton everyone wore a mask in compliance with the governor’s order.
The Kansas State Executive Order 20-52 went into effect July 3. The implementation of the mandate is left to the county level. Johnson County Board of Commissioners voted on July 2 to uphold the Governor’s mandate.
Steve Shute, mayor, said he asked each person individually to wear a mask, and a couple people said they would not wear one.
“That is that,” he said. “There is no enforcement, and no one is being dragged off by police out of here.”
The subject was brought up again at the end of the meeting during council updates by Randy Gregoryck, council member.
“I heard the statement at the beginning of the meeting, and I can’t wrap my head around Melton and Baldwin,” he said. “I don’t get why not wear a mask, but I’ll let the voters decide.”
Shute said the mandate is a civil not criminal matter, and Johnson County supported the governor’s mandate.
“Two thirds of counties didn’t follow,” he said. “There is no way to enforce, and it is the court of public opinion.”
Melton said he thinks everyone knows where he stands on the mask mandate.
Tory Roberts, council member, is the only council member who has worn a mask Since meeting at the beginning of June.

UPDATED: On The Gardner News Facebook page, Rich Melton, council member, commented that the final sentence “Tory Roberts, council member, is the only council member who has worn a mask since meeting at the beginning of June,” is incorrect and supplied a photo showing her without a mask.
He commented: “I would just like to point out that this statement is incorrect and I told the reporter as much on Tuesday morning. She clearly decided that part of the story was not important.”
Later in the social media thread, Tory Roberts, council member, replied: “I normally don’t comment on social media posts like this. However, I only started wearing the mask when the social distancing rules were less than the 6 feet. At the meeting in the picture (that Melton posted online), it was the special meeting on Friday 6/19 and there was appropriate social distance for that meeting.”
The complete thread is available on The Gardner News Facebook page.