Tucson mayor defiant after Gov. Ducey warns about vaccine mandate
PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey warned Tucson on Wednesday that its new employee vaccine mandate was illegal, and the southern Arizona city’s Democratic mayor responded by calling the Republican’s COVID-19 management an “utter failure.”
“It is deeply unfortunate not just for Tucsonans, but all Arizonans that Gov. Ducey is more interested in playing politics with the vaccine than taking any action whatsoever to protect public health,” Mayor Regina Romero said in a statement responding to a letter from Ducey’s lawyer.
“This is just another politically motivated attempt to micromanage Tucson and deflect from his utter failure to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Ducey’s general counsel, Anni Foster, outlined the state’s objections in a letter to Tucson’s city attorney on Wednesday.
A day earlier, the Tucson City Council approved an ordinance saying city employees who haven’t received at least one shot of the vaccine and have not received an approved exception or accommodation by Dec. 1 will be subject to termination.
“It’s unfathomable that after a year as tough as last, the Tucson City Council voted to FIRE unvaccinated city employees,” Ducey tweeted. “The state Legislature has spoken on this issue — they want Arizonans and their sincerely held beliefs to be protected from overreaching mandates.”
It’s unfathomable that after a year as tough as last, the Tucson City Council voted to FIRE unvaccinated city employees. The state Legislature has spoken on this issue — they want Arizonans and their sincerely held beliefs to be protected from overreaching mandates. 1/ pic.twitter.com/EQMrLaN5Hm
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) October 20, 2021
Officials in Arizona’s second-largest city say their plan is legal after a Maricopa County judge struck down a state law banning vaccine mandates. But Foster says a different section of the law requires the city to accommodate any employee who requests a vaccination exemption for religious reasons and cannot deny the request.
She also said an executive order from earlier this month blocks the city’s plan, warning violating the order “carries a criminal penalty.”
As of last week, around 300 of Tucson’s 4,000 employees hadn’t been vaccinated or received an exemption.
Jobe Dickinson, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Arizona, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Wednesday that Tucson could lose about 50 police officers over the vaccine requirement.
“It’s going to devastate the service that the officers are able to provide to the citizens of Tucson if this goes forward,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.