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Kansas mayor resigns after threats over coronavirus mask mandate

A mask hangs from a motorist's rearview mirror.
(Raul Roa / Los Angeles Times)

A mayor in western Kansas has resigned because of threats she received after publicly supporting a mask mandate.

Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw said Tuesday 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.

“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.

The Dodge City Commission, which Warshaw headed as mayor, voted 4-1 on Nov. 16 to impose a mask mandate amid the coronavirus, with several exceptions.

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Ford County, where Dodge City is, has recorded 4,914 cases of the virus infection since the pandemic began, according to the state health department. The county has about 33,600 residents.

Warshaw said that, despite the threats, she doesn’t regret voting in favor of the mask mandate.

Some governors have encouraged people to voluntarily wear masks but punt legal responsibility to local municipalities.

“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.”

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 threats to determine its response.


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