For the record: The candidates on whether to mask or not–UPDATED

07-11-20 Mask tantrum 5Dan Maples lashes out in a Fort Myers Costco when videoed without a mask.   (Image: Twitter)

July 12, 2020 by David Silverberg.

Updated at 5:30 pm with David Holden comment.

Mask madness has reached Southwest Florida.

Whether or not to wear a mask is no longer a question of a medical and hygienic precaution but a political statement, thanks to President Donald Trump’s politicization of the issue and stubborn refusal to set an example—before yesterday.

Of course, in Southwest Florida, a coronavirus hotspot, mask wearing has become a raw, emotional issue. It was in a Fort Myers Costco that Dan Maples had an anti-mask tantrum that went viral and cost him his job. Local towns and counties are debating mask mandates in meetings ringing with rage. Individual businesses have to decide whether to require customers to wear masks.

Where do the people who are seeking to represent Southwest Florida stand on masks and mandates?

The Paradise Progressive surveyed the tweets, websites, Facebook posts, news reports and statements of local congressional candidates regarding masks and compiled the following list of their positions—in addition to sending questions in direct messages. The results are presented here, for the record, along with some context. All names are listed by alphabetical order.


Cindy Banyai: “Masks slow the spread of COVID19 and everyone should wear one when while they’re out and can’t social distance. With cases across Florida spiking and Lee Health system nearing 100% staff capacity we should all care about one another and wear a mask. It’s the most patriotic thing you could do right now–care about your fellow Americans.”

David Holden: “Since the vigorous resurgence of the virus around June 24th, I’ve been calling for a state-wide mask mandate. I believe that mandate should not be criminalized, as those penalties will only dig regular folks further in the hole–but I do know we need universal mask wearing and clear leadership. As ironic as it may seem, individual mask wearing will increase freedom as it will slow the spread and help us return to normal more quickly and safely.”


Darren Aquino: Asked by NBC2’s Political Reporter Dave Elias in an interview broadcast on July 10, if the President should wear a mask, Aquino differed from Trump’s longstanding refusal and stated: “Different times, he should be, yeah. I would say he should put one on when it’s necessary.”

Casey Askar:  NBC2’s Dave Elias, reported on July 9 that Askar told him that Askar does not believe in wearing a mask in public and he doesn’t expect people to be forced to do so.

State Rep. Byron Donalds (R-80-Immokalee): Donalds told the Cape Coral City Council during its debate on a mask mandate: “Do not issue such an order when it is not clear you have the power to do so,” according to the News-Press.

State Rep. Dane Eagle (R-77-Cape Coral): Approvingly retweeted a July 7 tweet from Gov. Ron DeSantis (R): “I urge all Floridians to continue social distancing to help protect our state’s most vulnerable and slow the spread of #COVID19. Avoid the ‘Three Cs’ and high-risk environments. Wearing a facial covering when you can’t social distance may also help reduce transmission.”

Dr. William Figlesthaler: The only medical doctor among the candidates, Figlesthaler has not commented on mask-wearing on any of his platforms. Questions on the need for individuals to wear masks and mask mandates by local governments have been sent to his campaign e-mail address. As of this writing, no response has been received.

Mayor Randy Henderson: On July 9, following a vote of the Fort Myers City Council, Mayor Randy Henderson tweeted: “Today I proudly voted against a #MandatoryMasks policy for the @cityftmyers. Look, I agree with @realDonaldTrump – it is not feasible and a gross overreach of government. The individual must take responsibility for their health and respect others decision when they do the same.”

Daniel Kowal: No postings or positions on masks on his media platforms. As of this posting, no response to a direct question.

Christy McLaughlin: On July 7, at a Cape Coral City Council meeting on a mask mandate as reported by Fox4 News, where she went to oppose a mask mandate: “We do have the personal responsibility and ability to make our own choices with the autonomy of our own bodies.”

Daniel Severson: No postings or positions on masks on his media platforms. As of this posting, no response to a direct question.


Antonio Dumornay: In a July 8 Facebook post: “So people are happy about mandated mask 😷 to breathe in your own toxins (that you exhale called carbon dioxide) when only sick people need them! Like what are we doing!? Yes people get sick but your not sick.” As of this posting, no response has been received to a direct question for clarification of the post.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg


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