There’s been a lot of debate about phases, masks, opening businesses, etc. I’ve been getting questions lately, and I want to clarify my intent behind a co-signed letter released yesterday.
I respect Governor Inslee and all that he is doing to try to navigate us through this. His approach has helped flatten the curve and saved lives. Sumner supports and will follow his phased Safe Start plan. We have sent regular communications to the State about adjustments that could help local communities through this unprecedented situation.
The purpose of the latest letter was to ask the Governor to consider additional steps that could give local businesses equal shots at surviving. When I see the State designate some of our gift shops and antique stores as “essential” while telling others to keep their doors closed, we have an equity problem. I saw similar sentiments expressed this week by my colleague in Gig Harbor through The News Tribune. I think the State has taken us to a place where we have the tools to do business safely, so all businesses need to be able to reopen carefully. If you can order a burger safely, you can order a book safely. If one can’t be done safely, then neither should the other.
In other words, safety remains the ultimate priority. While I want businesses to be able to function, there’s some big changes all of us need to make in order for that to be possible. I would like to see all people in Sumner wearing face masks when in a store or public building, not because there’s an unenforceable rule in place from the City or the State, but because it’s the right thing to do to protect our most vulnerable populations. We are in a pandemic, so if we want to reopen some things and save our businesses, we’ve got to individually take steps to make that possible and safe at the same time.
This is a time for pulling together. Our businesses and non-profits in Sumner have been working together as a coalition to help launch a program called Open in Sumner. It’s about cross-promoting how we can support our local organizations safely through online sales, social media and in-person if appropriate. This is great work, and I’m proud of the City staff for their leadership with this.
We need this kind of partnership on a regional level. I’d like to work with my fellow mayors in Pierce County as well as the Executive so that we can provide insight, opinion and hopefully helpful advice to our Governor. I think we’ve each expressed suggestions and even frustrations individually, but I’d like to see us working more cohesively to ask the difficult questions and find some common ground to support Governor Inslee and help our businesses and our residents survive.
Mayor Bill Pugh