Cedar Rapids mayor candidates want local control on COVID-19 response, but split on mask mandates

Forum also addressed emergency preparedness, equity.

Hart’s election challengers — Amara Andrews, a TrueNorth executive and Advocates for Social Justice vice president, and Women Lead Change Chief Executive Officer Tiffany O’Donnell — also participated in the forum, which was hosted by the Professional Women’s Network of Eastern Iowa.

The three candidates are all vaccinated and said they support local control to make decisions about handling the pandemic. However, Andrews was more in line with Hart on her willingness to issue a mask mandate, while O’Donnell said she supported individual freedom to allow people to decide.

Andrews said she would let expert opinions guide her and told The Gazette she would have issued a mask mandate earlier than Hart had last fall, which she said came “late.” She said current case numbers may be high enough to warrant another mandate.

“When the governor or another elected official is posing things that I think aren’t best for our community, I would advocate for what is best, and who I would look to for guidance in this situation would be the doctors and nurses and scientists who are actually taking care of the people who are dying every day from this awful virus,“ Andrews said during the forum.

Candidates also responded to questions from a moderator about issues including pay equity for women, addressing poverty, proactive emergency preparation, attracting and retaining young professionals and supporting diversity, equity and inclusion.

Andrews emphasized a need to break down barriers and make opportunities accessible and inclusive for all, and said listening would be the key to ensuring residents’ voices are heard to make the changes they desire.

You can read the full article posted by the Gazette here. 

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