St. Charles alderman questions need to extend state of emergency for pandemic

Second Ward Alderman Rita Payleitner voted against ordinance extending emergency

At a recent St. Charles City Council meeting, 2nd Ward Alderman Rita Payleitner questioned whether the city is still in a state of emergency because of the pandemic.

At the City Council’s Oct. 18 meeting, Payleitner was the sole alderman to vote against an ordinance confirming and extending a declared state of emergency within the city of St. Charles because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m asking again why this is necessary,” she said during the meeting. “I contacted my representatives in Springfield, repeatedly I might add, about the need for the governor to lift his executive order, which I know this is contingent on. And now I don’t know if I can, in good conscience, vote for one locally if I’m demanding it be lifted in Springfield. There’s no closures. There’s no occupancy limitations. [There’s] pretty much no disaster, really. And I don’t see a need for a declared state of emergency.”

On March 9, 2020, Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared a state of emergency throughout Illinois because of the pandemic and issued a stay-at-home order. The St. Charles City Council on March 18 declared its own state of emergency in the city and granted emergency powers to then Mayor Ray Rogina in order to prevent disruption to the city’s operations.

Pritzker lifted the stay-at-home order in May 2020 and this June, the state entered phase 5 of the Restore Illinois plan. As a result, all sectors of the economy were able to resume at regular capacity.

While two aldermen voiced support for Payleitner’s stance, they were concerned the city might not have access to certain funds because it did not declare a state of emergency. In response, Payleitner said she wasn’t voting against the ordinance because she was worried about some speculative funding.

“It’s because I don’t think we’re in a state of emergency, nor do I think we’re in the midst of a disaster right now in the city of St. Charles,” she said.

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.