Salina elections pass controversial ordinance


Austin Hanson, Editor

On November 2nd, the city of Salina held elections for local government positions. In this election, residents not only voted politicians into office, but they also voted on an ordinance that caused quite a stir headed by the civilian group known as Salina Freedom. This ordinance aimed to limit the City Commission’s power to act in response to any public emergency in a way that restricts businesses or citizens. Some have said that this sort of public ordinance is extremely dangerous, as they believe it is necessary for the city government to be able to react to these sorts of things for the purpose of public safety. On the other hand, the ones opposing city powers have acted under the idea that they are limiting the city’s ability to infringe upon personal freedoms. In the end, the ordinance passed by more than 1 thousand votes; Here’s what it could mean for Salina. 


First off, it’s best to fully understand the context behind the ordinance, and why it was proposed. The bill was originally introduced to limit the actions that can be taken by the city during the COVID-19 pandemic. “This ordinance prevents the City of Salina from enacting any ordinance in response to a public emergency that imposes restrictions on businesses or citizens, leaving that responsibility to the county and subject to the Kansas Emergency Management Act.” A ballot in Salina has said. This means that the emergency powers are still present, however, it is left up to the discretion of the county instead of the city.


This has become a key point in part of the debate, as the opposition has said this will only leave it up to another higher power. Many have argued that giving these sorts of powers to the localized city government is the better of the two options, as they are closer to the people of Salina than any other power.


However, Salina Freedom says otherwise, as they believe that it’s best for there to be consistency where solely the county can decide when to enact orders in response to a public emergency. For the sake of consistency and to avoid confusion, we do not need too many different entities trying to do the same thing. It is solely the role of Saline County to respond to local emergencies and there are rules in the Kansas Emergency Management Act that they must follow when doing so”


As of right now, it’s hard to predict the effects of the ordinance, as acting in emergency conditions doesn’t come regularly. We’re currently exiting a period of emergency from COVID, and unless we experience another influx of cases within Salina, we won’t know the immediate results.