Residents of Nixa, Missouri, are voting on whether to recall their mayor over a mask mandate
On Tuesday, November 2, voters in Nixa will have the option to recall their mayor. The recall effort is led by residents who took issue with the mayor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The group, Concerned Citizens of Nixa, is behind the effort to recall Mayor Brian Steele. Skipp Phipps, who’s involved with the group, said they decided to move forward with the recall because the mayor issued a mask mandate last October without a vote of City Council.
“A lot of people get confused and think this is just about a mask mandate, but it’s actually about how it came about and how it was enforced. And I know, just speaking personally, when I first heard about it—how it was done—something about it just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like the normal routine for the way laws and ordinances are enacted in Nixa, and [I] began to do a little bit to research and then found out that there were many other concerned citizens that felt the same way—very sidestepped in the process—that their voice wasn’t being heard,” said Phipps.
Phipps claims Nixa City Council didn’t have the authority to grant legislative power to the mayor in an emergency.
But Steele, the mayor, said that’s incorrect.
“Under Nixa’s Home Rule Charter, we have—the council has all powers that are available to be granted by the State of Missouri. They are understanding it as a power giving document, and it is a power limiting document. So, things that are—they think it should be specifically presented within the document that you have the ability to do X, Y and Z. But what it says in plain language is that the city has all powers available through the Missouri State Constitution statutes or through the Home Rule Charter itself,” said Steele.
Steele believes what it comes down to is several people ultimately didn’t like the final decision.
“And I can understand that. But that’s why we have actual elections, so when we have the next election for mayor, people can voice that opinion and someone could run against me who had that opinion. But I think if people look at the other things that I’ve accomplished over my tenure as mayor, you know, our economy—an excellent economy—is booming. You know, we have a lot of great growth and great things happening in our community. And so I hope people will look at the totality of everything and not just a single decision that they may or may not agree with,” Steele said.
He said he’s heard from many Nixa residents who support him, including current council members and people who were on council at the time of the recall. He said if enough people turn out and make their voices heard he believes he’ll be allowed to stay in office.
The group behind the recall submitted its petition over the summer, just when the Delta variant of the coronavirus was wreaking havoc on Springfield hospitals.
Skipp Phipps said he hopes the recall will be successful, and ultimately wants it to send the message to elected officials that big decisions should be more transparent and involve everyone.
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