WCTV: Gadsden County Commission Chairman reacts to judge’s ruling that upholds mask mandate

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – On Monday, a judge ruled in favor of Gadsden County after a lawsuit was filed to repeal the county-wide mask mandate

The chairman of the Gadsden County Commission, Anthony Viegbesie, says he is pleased with Monday’s ruling. 

“It’s a very good judgment because it protects the well-being, the safety, and the health of the citizens of Gadsden County as a whole,” said Anthony Viegbesie, the chairman for Gadsden County Board of County Commissioners. 

The plaintiff on this case, Gerald Carroll, a Gadsden County business owner, filed the lawsuit on July 27. 

Carroll claims that the mandate infringes on his freedoms and violates the Florida Constitution. 

In the ruling, Judge David Frank says, in part, county commissioners “Considered the devastating effect of COVID” and “They are performing their solemn responsibility to enact laws that promote the safety and well-being of their constituents.” 

“In order to avoid the spread of this disease in a county where we do not have the hospital, we do not have any kind of health services where the citizens are disproportionately affected with health disparities so we need to increase the chances for them not to be exposed to the disease,” said Viegbesie. 

In Leon County, a similar lawsuit is now moving to an appellate court. 

Leon County Republican Party Chair, Evan Power, says there should be guardrails when it comes to local governments implementing emergency orders. 

“I think the government’s role, in this case, is to educate people on the dangers of the virus but not to pass ordinances forcing basically businesses to enforce the law on behalf of the government,” said Power. 

So what’s next after the Gadsden County ruling? 

The attorney representing Gerald Carroll tells WCTV they have filed a notice to appeal the judge’s ruling. 

“If there’s an appeal let the judiciary branch decide that,” said Viegbesie.