DRACUT, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Mark Pease, a Dracut man running for a seat on the town's Board of Selectmen, has drawn strong backlash for urging people to disregard public health safety orders and restrictions meant to keep them safe from COVID-19.
Pease currently chairs Dracut's planning board, and is one of five candidates running for two town selectmen seats. He's calling on town officials to "defy the Governor's directive," comments town officials have since called "completely irresponsible."
The candidate released a statement on his campaign's Facebook page Sunday, reacting strongly to state orders restricting some businesses in the wake of the disease's spread—including Gov. Charlie Baker's restaurant dine-in ban and suspension of gatherings of more than 25 people.
"As you all know the world has gone insane," Pease wrote. "Today the Governor of the Commonwealth saw fit to shutter restaurants and bars. Allowing no on premises service after Tuesday March 17th. Also, no gathering of more than 25 people?? Faith based events?? Does that mean a Church service, is Easter cancelled?? I didn’t think we lived in Cuba, but maybe I’m wrong. Is this in any way Constitutional?"
He then called on the Board of Selectmen "to instruct all Town departments to stand down and defy the Governor’s directive."
"I believe in the common sense of the residents of Dracut," he wrote. "Let the local businesses and religious groups operate as usual and decide if they want to serve the public."
Commenters on the post wrote that Pease was "ignorant and selfish," and at least one said Pease had lost their vote.
WBZ NewsRadio was unable to reach Pease for comment, but Dracut Board of Selectmen Chairman Jesse Forcier told WBZ NewsRadio's Shari Small the board was in strong opposition to Pease's sentiment.
"I was initially shocked," Forcier said. "I think there was a unanimous response from the board of just complete disapproval."
He called Pease's comments not just irresponsible, but also "irrational."
"It was just completely against everything we've heard from our state public officials, here in town, our board of health," he said. "I think he was looking to make some sort of radical statement or impact, but in my estimation, it completely backfired."
Pease will have to wait a little longer if he's hoping to get onto the board. The Lowell Sun reported town selectmen voted unanimously Thursday to declare a local state of emergency in Dracut, and to postpone the town's May 4 elections to June 29.
WBZ NewsRadio's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports