The Leesburg Town Council has pumped the brakes on a vote to mandate vaccines for its more than 500 full- and part-time employees, along with town contractors and appointed members of its boards and commissions.
At the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting,when a vote on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate discussed at Monday’s work session and supported by a majority of the council was planned, Councilman Neil Steinberg put forward a motion to table the measure until the council’s Oct. 12 meeting. Mayor Kelly Burk indicated that Town Manager Kaj Dentler had been given some information late Tuesday afternoon that he needed to look into, without elaborating. Dentler could not be immediately reached for comment.
During the petitioners section of the meeting, several members of the Leesburg Police Department said the a vaccine mandate world cause police officers to leave the town.
“This decision has the potential to decimate the Leesburg Police Department. The town could lose a lot of amazing police officers,” said Josh Carter, a member of the police department and also a town resident. “If you decide to move forward with mandating this vaccine the loss of officers is on you. I’m going to come back to you [after the officers leave] to ask how you’re going to keep my family safe with little to no officers patrolling the streets or schools.”
Fellow Leesburg Police employee William Butterfield said the vaccine mandate will cause the police department to have an even harder time attracting and retaining good officers, at a time when police departments nationwide are having difficulties hiring employees. He noted what the town would be losing if he left town employ, and pointed to all the money Leesburg has invested in him as a member of the police department’s bike team and SWAT team, in addition to other certifications.
“I think we’re all big boys, grown adults, that can make decisions for ourselves,” he said.