A western Kansas mayor announced her immediate resignation Tuesday because of threats she has received after publicly supporting a mask mandate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw said she was concerned about her safety after encountering aggression, including threats via phone and email, after she was quoted in a USA Today article Friday supporting a mask mandate, The Dodge City Globe reported.
“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,” Warshaw wrote in her resignation letter.
The commission voted 4-1 on November 16 to impose a mask mandate, with several exceptions.
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.
Public health officials have called for universal mask wearing to help slow the spread of the pandemic, which has killed more than 300,000 Americans.
Warshaw said despite the threats, she doesn’t regret voting in favor of the mask mandate.
“This is harder for me than people realize,” Warshaw said as she began to cry. “I really love this city with all my heart. I still believe in this city, and I believe in their ability to not harm one another.”
Warshaw told MSNBC on Wednesday that she has relocated out of Dodge City. She also said she changed her political registration from Republican to unaffiliated, “simply because the Republican Party isn’t the Republican Party that I know.”
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.