Get ready to go mask free in Branson.
After swearing in former alderman Larry Milton as the city’s new mayor, and the swearing in of three new aldermen who ran with getting rid of the mask mandate as major parts of their campaigns, the newly constituted board of aldermen voted to remove the mask mandate.
The mandate will be officially removed at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, April 16 on a unanimous vote.
The vote came during the first in-person meeting at Branson City Hall since December 2020.
Mayor Milton defeated incumbent Mayor Edd Akers on April 6 by a significant margin. He took the oath of office Tuesday along with new alderman Clay Cooper, Cody Fenton, and Ruth Denham. The last time three aldermen and the mayor were replaced in the same election was 2007.
The new Mayor and aldermen spoke in the meeting about the community coming back together after a divisive issue.
“While we will not all agree on some things, I will encourage respect for each other,” Mayor Milton said. “This Board of Aldermen is in one boat and when we can all row in the same direction, we can do good thing. When we add the community into our boat, and we all row in the same direction, we can do great things. I am so excited to be your mayor and to help take Branson to the next level.”
Cooper directly addressed the issue of the mask mandate and his choosing to run for office in his closing comments for the meeting.
“I was told I was a one issue candidate,” Cooper said. “All I cared about was the mask mandate and that is the furthest thing from the truth. Is that what got me fired up and inspired me to run? Absolutely, but like I said, I’ve been living here 35 years, I’ve raised my kids, they’re in public school here, my wife and I own a business on the strip and we have 90 employees. That might have been the first annexation I’ve ever voted on, but I’m here to learn. I can see numbers, and see if you’re bringing in more money than you’re spending, that’s a good thing.”
Mayor Milton also saluted the voters who turned out for the election, with Branson’s total percentage of voters coming to the polls far ahead of neighboring communities.
“The voter turnout in the city of Branson, I take my hat off, 25 percent voter turnout,” Mayor Milton said.