Commissioners Face a Frustrated Public

  • 2021-08-29, 08:22 AM
  • Rachel Dahl
Commissioners Face a Frustrated Public Photo by Rachel Dahl
State mask mandate has many locals looking to the county commission to uphold constitutional rights

County Commissioners heard from several residents during public comment at the regular commission meeting last week, asking them to take a stand against the mask mandate as well as establish a Constitutional County, a movement by two Nevada counties to join with the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Members of the association believe that elected Sheriffs are the first line of defense in preserving the Constitutional rights of a citizen and that the Sheriff stands as the upholder, defender, protector, and servant to the liberties of the people within the county.

A push on social media leading up to the meeting urged residents to attend the meeting and speak in favor of these issues.

Steven Duarte thanked the Commissioners for their service and the tough decisions they’ve had to make the past year and a half. He asked the commissioners to take a stand on the mask mandate. “Your decision so far not to, I can only assume is a desire to not lose state funding. If that is true, it’s the only motive I can think of, it’s better to not say anything and wait out the mandate so we don’t lose finances that can benefit Churchill County,” he said. “However, by not saying anything you are saying something. You are communicating to the state government that they have the right and ability to abuse emergency powers in order to circumvent the typical checks on power on the governor.” He said that as a local government authority the commissioners have the responsibility to protect the community from abuse of power by higher authorities. “I don’t think you have the luxury of not communicating anything on this position, part of being a leader is taking a stand.”

Local business owner Brooke Allen has requested that commissioners address the mask mandate and the possibility of mandatory vaccines, expressing concern that the issue has not made it on to the agenda. She told commissioners it is the mandates that bother her. “Please take a stand. I don’t care if that means that we lose funding. I don’t care if that means that civic center stands unfinished. You guys are our last line of defense. We will stand behind you when you do it.”

Allen has submitted requests for two agenda items for the September 2 commission meeting, one asking the commissioners for a resolution that they will not enforce any mask mandates, and the second declaring Churchill County a “sanctuary county” free from vaccine mandates in order to enter public establishments.

Linda Thompson, state lead with Battle Born Patriots Taking Nevada Back, the group that brought the recall effort against Governor Sisolak, requested commissioners establish a Constitutional County with a firearm ordinance. “It is past time for you to stop ignoring those who put you in your seats or we will be forced to remove you like Esmeralda County is doing to their commissioners. You took an oath which you are not upholding, to protect the Constitution.”

Robert Johnson, a 30-year resident has attended the commission meetings three times asking for a constitutional second amendment county designation.

Andy Allen, small business owner, said he is concerned about the government overreach. “We are being lied to, and the result is mass panic, fear, depression, and hate. Suicide rates are up. Counties in Arizona, Tennessee, and Northern California have all reported more deaths from suicide than COVID. There is hatred and division everywhere. Now is the time for our true leaders to stand up and tell the public that this is wrong, and we won’t pretend that it’s right.” 

Jim Falk said he thinks it is a bad idea for the county to incentivize people to receive the vaccines, referring to the incentive as a “bribe” and saying the vaccine has not been studied enough. On the matter of the Constitutional County issue, he said he doesn’t know what the problem would be. “Is somebody worried about showing too much loyalty to the Constitution?”

Kevin Smith said the citizens of Churchill County are requesting a “U.S. Constitutional adherence declaration county-wide,” similar to what he says Elko, White Pine, Lander, and other counties have done.

Tanya Freeman threatened commissioners with invocation of Nevada Revised Statute 306 which provides for the recall of an elected official.

Brennan Behimer spoke of the contractual relationship between the electors and the elected. “We who do the electing are to follow the lawful leadership of those in authority, and those elected are obligated to govern within the law. What we are saying here is those who have been elected, Governor Sisolak, is breaking that contract. I’m happy to submit to lawful authority, but those who have been elected are breaking the contract. You, representing our county, have a much stronger voice and we are asking you to step in and bring that authority back into line. Our silent non-compliance equals consent and approval and equals complicity. You are in those chairs at this time to provide leadership.”

Rupert Wyble said commissioners are sitting on the fence and it is confusing to people. “You gotta remember in Nevada, most of the fences are barbed wire.”  

Linda Hartweg said there is so much complacency. “People don’t seem to care, they don’t want to fight. They just want to hold their hand out to the federal government. We need to do all we can to protect the county from obvious overreach that is coming down on us and we need to become a Constitutional County.”

Chairman Pete Olsen said he sits in frustration at the politicizing of these issues. “We want to hear from you, we are the government that is closest to you, and you can come talk to us. Churchill County is a good government on the whole. We are hearing the political frustration, I have it too.” He referenced times when dealing with federal agencies when citizens have packed public meetings and not been heard. “You don’t have that here, we hear you.”

He addressed the constitution issue, referencing the oath that he took to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the State of Nevada. “There’s no need for any of us to take a Constitutional litmus test. I stood up before God and everybody and swore that I would uphold it. That hasn’t changed.”

Olsen said he knows people are frustrated. “We are frustrated as heck too. This has been a horrible blight on our land. It’s pitted people against each other. People have gotten common sense and political messed up, science and politics messed up. People have played politics with this and played with our lives.

 “As far as what we do here, we take the responsibility very seriously and have not backed down one minute in doing what we thought was right. I know there are people in this room who think what we are doing is not right – go ahead and run for election and then you get to make these decisions. The folks in this community made the choice to put us here and we are doing the best we can with the information we have and I’m going to continue to do that. I’ve worked very hard to be very knowledgeable about this matter and a hundred other matters that are pertinent to this county, and I’ll continue to do that until my last day in office.”

Local street preacher Geof Knell urged commissioners to rebel against the state and federal government. “The Declaration says we can remove you in any fashion we can,” he said during his remarks.

Commissioner Greg Koenig asked him if that was a threat. “You’ve threatened to remove us by any means possible, is that a threat? A physical threat? We have the sheriff here.”

“The preamble of the Declaration of Independence, read it,” replied Knell.

“Is that a threat,” Koenig said.

Knell relied, “No.”



Rachel Dahl



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Perplexed 2021-08-29, 04:53 PM
The mask mandate does not violate Constitutional rights and Churchill County should discuss this with a Constitutional law expert who may be able to provide an easy-to-understand explanation of the rulings applicable. Do not listen to Joey Gilbert because he does not know what he is talking about. Also, any business on private property still can require masks regardless of county actions. Nobody in the photo is wearing a mask inside the County meeting, so obviously you aren’t following the mask mandate anyway. Federal requirements about masks on public transportation and in airports will stand, too. So, seems like something not to waste any more time on, except getting an explanation out to the small group who doesn’t understand that the mask mandate is not a violation of Constitutional rights.