‘I do not feel safe in this position anymore’: Dodge City mayor resigns over mask mandate threats

By Kaisha Batman, KSN, original article link

The mayor of Dodge City has submitted a letter of resignation to the City Commission, effective immediately.

In her resignation letter, Joyce Warshaw refers to people behaving inappropriately with anger, accusations and abuse she has received after she publicly supported a mask mandate.

“Life has dealt out many challenges in our world that have perhaps caused many people to act inappropriately but I do not feel safe in this position anymore and am hopeful in removing myself this anger, accusations and abuse will not fall on anyone else and will calm down,” she wrote.

She said she began receiving threatening emails in early to mid-November when the initial mask mandate was put forth for discussion.

Currently, Ford County has recorded 4,914 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the state health department. The county has about 33,600 residents.

The commission voted 4-1 on Nov. 16 to impose a mask mandate, with several exceptions.

“The people that were against the mask mandate were very aggressive in their verbiage,” Warshaw said in an interview with KSN.

But it was not until being quoted in a USA Today story published Friday, in which the threats became more concerning, putting her safety in question.

“I understand people are under a lot of pressure from various things that are happening around society like the pandemic, the politics, the economy, so on and so forth, but I also believe that during these times people are acting not as they normally would,” Warshaw said.

Warshaw said she along with other commissioners faced threatening calls and emails. Many specifically targeted at Warshaw.

“I see this as a product of the times, so to speak, that we have allowed people to think it’s okay to be aggressive, accusatory, and just plain bullies. Maybe if I am the target, if I remove myself, maybe they can calm down,” she said.

Many community members were also angered over Warshaw’s living situation claiming she did not live in Dodge City, but rather in a separate part of the state.

In response, Warshaw said, “My husband and I lived in the family home in Dodge City. We decided we were going to size down and maybe relocate but we didn’t know. The house sold practically overnight and we weren’t aware that it would sell that fast.”

Warshaw said while her husband permanently moved to the family’s other residence, one they had owned since 2016, she leased a home in Dodge City where she continued to live throughout her time as mayor.

She said although she did visit her husband periodically she wanted to carry out her duties for the city.

“I leased a place. I was there for every meeting. I was in Dodge City, ” she said. “I wanted to fulfill my commitment to Dodge City. I would never do anything to my beloved Dodge City that would be negative.”

Warshaw said she began to feel attacked as the threats turned more aggressive and after voicing her concern to her city manager, the threats were then passed on to the Dodge City Police Department for further investigation.

“I know they’re only words, but in this day in age and what we’re seeing across the nation and the condoning of being a bully and lying so on and so forth, who’s to say those words wouldn’t become action. I felt they were threatening me. I truly did feel that,” she said.

Warshaw said although she stepped down as mayor, she stands by the decisions she made in the role.

“Wearing masks and distancing and trying to limit our crowd size, that is the least we can do for the good of our society. So I don’t regret my vote,” she said.

She went on to say that she did not hold any animosity toward the community and that she will forever call Dodge City her true home.

“It is my home. I love it with all of my heart. I will always be an advocate for Dodge City,” she said. “In normal times, and I say normal times because I don’t feel like these are normal times, I saw a community that was there for the good of all.”

The investigation into the threats against Warshaw was set to conclude Wednesday evening.

As for her replacement, the City of Dodge City released a statement after getting her resignation letter. It says it will follow Kansas statutes in appointing a new mayor.

The commissioners have 60 days from getting the resignation to appoint, by majority vote, a person to fill the vacancy. If they do not, then there can be a resolution passed for a special election.

The commissioners will discuss the process at their Dec. 21 meeting.

Full resignation letter from Mayor Joyce Warshaw

December 15, 2020

Nick Hernandez and fellow Commissioners;

It is with a heavy heart that I am submitting this letter of resignation from the commission and
the mayorship effective immediately today, December 15, 2020. Life has dealt out many
challenges in our world that have perhaps caused many people to act inappropriately but I do
not feel safe in this position anymore and am hopeful in removing myself this anger,
accusations and abuse will not fall on anyone else and will calm down.

I will always call Dodge City home and hold the town and community in high esteem. It has
been an honor and a privilege to serve this city and has given me some of the best memories
of my life. Dodge City is a wonderful place to live, work, play and raise a family. I look forward
to watching fellow commissioners continue to move this great community to even higher levels
of success.

I want to thank all of the city employees for their help and support while I served. You all are
amazing and are absolutely the heart of our city. I can’t begin to thank each and everyone of
you enough for all you do…but know you are appreciated.

I want to thank my fellow commissioners who have educated me, worked with me, and been
there as a team for the best interest of our beloved community. You are incredible people and
Dodge City is very fortunate to have voted you to the commission. Kent and Rick, you are the
rocks that we have learned from and you are both absolutely amazing and it gives me peace
know you will be there for at least two more years.

Thank you to you, Nick Hernandez. It has been a pleasure working with you and it gives me so
much pride to know that I was a part of bringing you and your lovely family to Dodge City. I
feel the city is absolutely in the right hands with your knowledge base and professionalism.
Thank you!

Thank you to the citizens of Dodge City that have been there and supported me appropriately.
We may not always agree and that is understandable but alway know that I have no regrets
with any of my decisions as a commissioner and/or mayor. I truly made every decision for the
best interest of all of you and Dodge City.

Joyce Warshaw

This article was republished here with the permission of: KSNW-TV