Union City mayor posed maskless in a photo with 25 people also not wearing masks

Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci, center, posing with a large group of supporters in a photo taken last September. Of the 26 people, it appears about six were wearing a mask. Dutra-Vernaci was not.

Union City Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci and the City Council kicked off a intensive outreach effort last month to stop the spread of the coronavirus by encouraging residents to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.

But Dutra-Vernaci, who is facing a re-election challenge from a council colleague and a member of the New Haven school board, had not been heeding her own advice prior to the city’s effort.

Dutra-Vernaci appeared in a photo last August that showed her maskless, and in close proximity with 25 of her supporters, a vast majority who were also not wearing masks.

Union City mayoral candidates: Councilmember Jaime Patino, Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci, and New Haven school boardmember Sarabjit Cheema.

Dutra-Vernaci’s appearance in the photo is a violation of the Alameda County public health order that recommends residents outdoor gatherings of groups no larger than 12 people. In addition, those individuals should be part of your personal “social bubble.”

During a heated candidate forum last month, one of Dutra-Vernaci’s opponents, Councilmember Jaime Patino, made an effort to link her with President Trump’s infamous aversion to wearing masks. Patino attempted to display the photo of Dutra-Vernaci not wearing a mask in a large gathering, but the image was blurred during the Zoom conference call. “It makes me wonder if she believes in science,” Patino repeatedly said.

Days later Dutra-Vernaci told a group of residents that, in fact, Patino “was exhibiting characteristics of our president.” New Haven school boardmember Sarabjit Cheema is also the race to unseat Dutra-Vernaci, who is seeking her third and final four-year term in office.