A Republican mayor in western Kansas announced in a letter to city officials and on social media Tuesday that she is resigning, effective immediately, because of threats she has received after she publicly supported a mask mandate.
Mayor Joyce Warshaw of Dodge City said she was concerned about her safety after being met with aggression, including threats via phone and email, after she was quoted in a USA Today article on Friday supporting the mandate, The Dodge City Globe reported. The city commission voted 4-1 on Nov. 16 to impose a mask mandate, with several exceptions.
But Warshaw told NBC News on Tuesday that "threats, accusations and actions" toward her and her family from those in the community forced her to step down.
"[It was a] very very tough, difficult decision to make because I have no regrets about any of my actions or decisions I made as mayor but I think it’s best to move on," Warshaw said. "Particularly my husband said 'you’re done, you’re done.' Maybe the city can just move on."
The city commission said in a statement Tuesday that Warshaw tendered her resignation in a letter in the morning.
"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 said in the letter.
Ford County, where Dodge City is located, 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.
Warshaw said despite the threats, she doesn’t regret voting in favor of the mask mandate and still loves the city.
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"[I] still love Dodge City with all of my heart and believe in it," she said.
Some of the threatening emails have been turned over to police. Specific details of the threats were not provided.
Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis said the department is looking into the communications to determine its response.