Fort Myers’ new mayor, council members sworn in, touch on mask mandate

Kevin Anderson is sworn in Monday as Fort Myers mayor. (Credit: Rich Kolko/WINK News)

The new mayor of Fort Myers was sworn in Monday as were two new council members, and they shared their thoughts on the rising number of COVID-19 cases and a mask mandate.

The numbers certainly have their attention, and if you walk through downtown, you’ll see a lot of stores and restaurants with signs asking customers to wear masks. When it comes to imposing a citywide mask mandate, chances are slim that’s going to happen.

“As far as mandating masks goes at the city level, I’m not for that. If the county was to do a mask mandate or the state was to do it, obviously, I would support it wholeheartedly,” said Kevin Anderson.

The newly-elected mayor said he wants people to wear masks and practice social distancing because the virus is taking a toll on the city.

“This has not been good for people, this has not been good for the community, it’s not been good on the economy, so it’s not something we should take lightly,” he said.

Newly-elected Councilman Lin Bochette now represents Anderson’s district and said he’ll look to Lee Health for guidance on face coverings.

“I like to call it a personal mandate, and we’re seeing more and more people adopt it voluntarily,” Bochette said.

“They have the experts. As politicians, we need to listen to them and see what they recommend, so this will be the first day on the job tomorrow and I’ll be in touch with the hospital and see what their guidelines are.”

Long-time neighbor and first-time Councilwoman Darla Betzer Bonk isn’t against a mask mandate – under the right circumstances.

“I would consider if it comes before our council, but wanting to do that in conjunction with the county as well as the state.”

Anderson said he’s getting ready to appoint task forces to address three main issues in the city: homeless, affordable housing, and unity.

He hopes to have solid solutions from these teams in the next six months.

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