MOUNT VERNON — Firefighters, a school district employee and an elected official were among those who took the stage Thursday afternoon at a rally against COVID-19 vaccine mandates recently announced by Gov. Jay Inslee.
About 100 people gathered at Skagit Riverwalk Park for the rally. While some in the crowd — including two wearing dinosaur costumes — held signs opposing the mandates, much of the attention was directed at the handful of speakers.
Bryan Luchi, the vice president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1983, was among the first to take the stage. He said while he’s vaccinated, he opposes measures mandating his colleagues to get vaccinated.
“I’m definitely here to support my co-workers who are not vaccinated,” Luchi said. “I support their rights to make their own medical decisions.”
Luchi expressed concern that if frontline responders lost their jobs because of the mandate covering health care workers, it may reduce the capacity of first responders to help others. The union has issued a statement opposing the mandate.
Sedro-Woolley City Council member JoEllen Kesti also spoke.
She said she wasn’t appearing as a council member but as a county resident concerned about those covered by the mandates.
“They have to get vaccinated or they will lose it all,” she said.
Earlier this month, Inslee said he was requiring state employees, health and long-term care providers, and school employees to get vaccinated by Oct. 18.
Regarding the requirement for employees working in education, Inslee said in a statement: “This virus is increasingly impacting young people, and those under the age of 12 still can’t get the vaccine for themselves. We won’t gamble with the health of our children, our educators and school staff, nor the health of the communities they serve.”