It was 1974 and Nancy Trauer was voted in as the first female city commissioner, later becoming the first female mayor in 1975.
This year Trauer, along with her husband Rex, will be leaving Dodge City, leaving behind a lasting legacy.
"It was a time in the community when some of the younger folks in town were interested in becoming more involved in city politics for one reason or another and wanted to support a candidate for the city commission," Trauer said. "Among my supporters, there was the belief a female candidate had a good chance to win the upcoming local city election. Because among this group I was a native Dodge City girl, it was suggested I be that candidate.
"Thanks to a strong campaign team led by Dave Tarter, I won the most votes. The second year of my term I was appointed Mayor.
"With our city commission/city manager form of government, the mayor is chosen among the other city commissioners and serves as chairman of the commission meetings and has a general ceremonial role in the community."
Despite the pioneering election, Trauer didn't dwell on the accolade for very long.
"At the time, I didn’t spend much time contemplating the fact I was the Dodge City’s first female city commissioner and later mayor, because I was busy working at being an effective member of the city commission," she said. "In fact, most folks make more of this than I do. I was fortunate the other city commissioners with whom I served, appeared to view me just as another city commissioner. I certainly did.
"I did not experience discrimination from them because I was a woman."
During her time as commissioner, Trauer along with local attorney Jim Williams, co-authored the first landmark preservation city ordinance.
According to Trauer it was only the second ordinance in the state of Kansas.
"Historic preservation in communities became a popular interest nationwide due to a reaction from many urban renewal projects happening in cities," Trauer said. "Urban Renewal was effective in many ways but also destroyed quite a number of historic structures in these communities.
"That’s one of the reasons cities were developing ordinances such as this. Historic preservation in Dodge City — and the history of our town — became a life long interest of mine and consequently, I’ve spent decades serving on the local Landmark Commission."
Trauer added that she is still currently a member of the Landmark Commission.
"As with all community projects, I haven’t done this alone," she said. "Support for all of this in recent years comes from Melissa McCoy, Dodge City project development coordinator, who effectively leads our community in continuing historic preservation efforts in town.
"Nathan Littrell, planning and zoning administrator, also has a role in this effort.
"Others on the Landmark Commission are Terry Lee, Chairman; Doug Austen, Kathie Bell, Charlie Mead, Darlene Smith and Tim Wenzl.
"Other endeavors that supported my life long interest in promoting Dodge City include: 20 years as a Boot Hill Museum board member; author of several local National Register of Historic Places nominations; presently secretary of the Ford County Historical Society, a member of the Dodge City Library Foundation Board, a member of the City of Dodge City tourism committee and the First United Methodist Church church historian."
In 1988, Trauer became the director of the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"Again, this was a wonderful experience and gave me a chance to have a part in my beloved city government operation plus support any and all historic endeavors in town," she said. "It’s pretty easy to promote Dodge City to other folks interested in old west history.
"Our present director, Jan Stevens, and her staff take promotion of Dodge City to a higher level and do an excellent job.
"During my time there, we built the visitor center building and started the trolley service.
"Jan replaced the old Trolley, continued the visitor information service but has expanded promotions of Dodge City in an extremely effective way."
Looking towards the future for Trauer and Dodge City, she said, "It’s easy to be a naysayer about what’s lacking in a community. But when you’ve worked as long as I have in Dodge City, you learn there are many sides to any issue and usually there is someone, or group whether is a governmental entities or not, working to improve that issue.
"So many changes to Dodge City has happened, it’s difficult to list them. Most of them good ones. We have a progressive community with great leaders in all areas. What fortunate citizens we are."
"My husband, Rex (a former Dodge City Community College biological science professor and coach and Farmland Industries feed mill manager) and I led a good life in our town. We’re leaving Dodge City with many wonderful memories having made great friends along the way.
"I have an aversion to sounding like the stuff I’ve done was only by me because I’ve always emphasized that one does not do community projects alone
"It takes all of us to make anything happen."
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