RILEY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNT) – The Riley County Commission chairman compared local pushes for an area-wide mask mandate to Nazi Germany during Monday’s public meeting.

We’re getting real close to pre-World War II Germany, where you didn’t obey what the Führer wanted, you could be reported by your family, by your neighbor, by your friends because you are not participating like the government said you should. That’s what it’s getting close to. My opinion. This is just a small thing, but those develop into some bigger things if you’re not careful.

Riley County Commission Chair Marvin Rodriguez

The chairman made the comments as the group reviewed the governor’s statewide mask mandate, which Riley County Health Officer Julie Gibbs also adopted countywide on Monday. Neither Commissioner Ron Wells nor Vice Chair John Ford responded to Rodriguez’s comparison to Nazi Germany.

The group did not take any action on the mandate, but Commissioner Ron Wells also spoke in disapproval, referencing the City of Manhattan and K-State’s push for a mandate while K-State holds football games. He also said the city, which already requires masks in public, is where all of the county’s coronavirus cases are.

“I’m willing to go along with a mask mandate, it’s just a feel-good,” Wells said. “What’s upsetting is that we are an educated community. We have a higher education university right here and people cannot think. They’re educated in their field, they cannot think and look at where the problem is and there is a mask mandate where the problem is.”

While the Riley County Health Department moved to adopt a countywide mask requirement, the Pottawatomie County Commission voted unanimously Monday to opt out of Gov. Laura Kelly’s statewide mandate.