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Republican mayor of Kansas town resigns, citing threats she received in instituting mask mandate

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Posted at 11:04 AM, Dec 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-16 12:04:56-05

The Republican mayor of a Kansas town resigned on Tuesday saying that she "no longer felt safe" in the position due to threats she received while attempting to institute a mask mandate.

Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw submitted a letter informing the city of her immediate resignation on Tuesday, according to the city's website.

According to the Washington Post, Warshaw was thrust into the national spotlight last Friday, when USA Today published a feature story on Dodge City's struggle to contain COVID-19. According to the article, 1 in 10 people in the town of 27,000 had contracted the virus by the time Warshaw instituted the mask mandate on Nov. 16.

Though at least a dozen people in the small town had died, USA Today reported that the local police department chose not to enforce the mandate and that few in the city were actually complying with the order.

But Warshaw says that Dodge City's defiance went beyond ignoring the rules. She told the Washington Post on Tuesday that threats toward her and her family prompted her resignation.

"They were loud, and they were aggressive, and they frightened me and my family," Warshaw told the Post. "There's a strong part of me that wants to say they are only words. But people are angry right now, and I don't know that for sure."

Warshaw said she received numerous anonymous voicemails from angry constituents.

"...the messages grew more frequent and aggressive," the Post reported. "Burn in hell. Get murdered. One person simply wrote, 'We're coming for you.'"

Warshaw, who was serving in her second stint as the town's mayor, said in her resignation letter that it was the threats that led to her stepping down.

"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.

Warshaw isn't the first public official to resign amid threats during the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton submitted her resignation after leading the state's fight against the virus for several months.

While Acton stated in her resignation letter that she was seeking to spend more time with her family, she regularly received threats from Ohioans angered by public health measures she took to prevent the spread of the virus. Protesters even accosted Acton at her home.

In September, hours after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine named Dr. Joan Duwve as Acton's replacement, Duwve removed herself from consideration for "personal reasons."