City of Newberry decides to align with the governor’s order


The Newberry City Commission held an emergency meeting tonight to discuss “how to protect residents from the constant barrage of chaos and confusion” from changing Alachua County Emergency Orders.

Mayor Jordan Marlowe told the commission that he thought the Gainesville City Commission had bullied the Alachua County Commission into changing their earlier vote to remove the mask mandate. He said the City of Gainesville could have put in their own mask order, but instead they pressured the County to do it. Marlowe said five municipalities had asked the County to remove the mask mandate, and he questioned why one municipality (Gainesville) had more power than the others.

Commissioner Rick Coleman asked whether Newberry could just follow the governor’s orders. City Attorney Scott Walker said that, politically, Newberry could ask the governor and the Division of Emergency Management to allow them to opt out of the County’s orders. 

Commissioner Tim Marden said the citizens of Newberry deserve stability and clarity, and he was “perfectly ok” with passing their own order to align with the governor and that the County could take it up with Newberry if they objected.

Commissioner Rocky McKinley said, “I’ve never been more disappointed with our county commission… It’s not fair to our citizens… I trust our [data] sources more than I trust the circus I watched yesterday.” 

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Commissioner Paul Norfleet said that pledging to mirror the governor’s orders would give more stability to businesses.

Several commissioners were in favor of taking the vote right away instead of instructing staff to draft a resolution to be considered at their May 26 meeting. Marden argued that the County could change the rules at any time, and having their own order would provide needed stability.

McKinley agreed, “This is not about face masks to me; this is about stability.” Marlowe said the “face mask debacle” yesterday allowed them to see “behind the curtain” to the structure of local government. 

Marden made a motion that staff should draft an emergency order that mirrors the governor’s order for Mayor Marlowe to sign tomorrow. Staff estimated that the draft order would be available some time tomorrow, but Marlowe said that “for all intents and purposes,” it would be effective immediately.

The motion passed unanimously.