Blanca Soto becomes the first Hispanic woman to hold the position of Dodge City commissioner
After a night of questioning, the Dodge City Commission has named Blanca Soto as the newest city commissioner. According to city officials, Soto is the first Hispanic woman to be selected to the commission in Dodge City.
The selection came after former Mayor Joyce Warshaw resigned from the position in December 2020 after alleged threatening emails were sent to her over the city mask mandate that passed in November 2020.
The Dodge City Police Department later deemed the threats were opinions sent to Warshaw by a man from Kentucky.
The selection for the commissioner position came down to Soto and Jan Scoggins after 13 applicants applied for the position.
Both Soto and Scoggins were questioned by city commissioners on why they felt right for the position.
"I love Dodge City, this is my community," Soto said. "I want to be part of that change and work into making this community a great place to live and work and raise a family."
This marks the first time Soto has applied for public office.
Soto has been a member of the Kansas Appleseed organization, a nonprofit advocacy organization working toward laws and policies to build a more thriving, inclusive and just state, according to its website.
Soto was also part of the city's Cultural Relations Advisory Board.
She has lived in Dodge City for 20 years and had been a representative with the U.S. Census Bureau in southwest Kansas in 2020.
As a commissioner, the top three items of focus for Soto are to continue the current projects ongoing in Dodge City, maintain and attract younger talent, and boost the economy with recruitment of businesses to create more jobs.
Soto was asked if the commission did the right thing by passing the mask mandate in November.
"I think you did the right thing," Soto said. "By taking into consideration the medical professionals' opinion and working together, you came to the right decision and at the same time making that decision up to be evaluated later."
Soto also shared that as a commissioner, the needs of the community must be addressed as one of the primary goals of a commissioner.
Scoggins had previously been city commissioner from 2014 through 2019 and also ran for Kansas House of Representatives District 119.
"I feel honored to be one of the two final candidates," Scoggins said. "I was born and raised in Dodge City and am a third-generation Dodge City person. I have seen many changes in Dodge City but am very pleased with the direction we've taken with the new branding."
Scoggins also answered the mask mandate question: "I think definitely you did the right thing by putting the ordinance in and reviewing it every 30 days, so you did do the right thing. You as commissioners had figures in front of you and had information I do not have so I didn't feel I was in a position to judge your decision at this point."
The commissioners voted 4-0 for Soto to be the new city commissioner.
Soto said that as commissioner she would bring together the community and get people involved in local government.
Another question asked was did she have the time to commit to being a commissioner.
"I do," Soto said. "If I had signed up for this last year I wouldn't have because I was finishing school but now that I am done with that, I am a single mother and I am pretty used to taking the different responsibilities and really balancing everything. I feel pretty confident I will have the time, the energy and the commitment to be on the city commission."
On making the final decision, the nominations were opened to the commissioners. Commissioner Brian Delzeit nominated Soto. Each commissioner then commented on each candidate bringing different experiences to the commission and, in the end, the final vote came down to Soto and she was immediately sworn in as commissioner.
She will hold the position until January 2022 and can choose to run for election prior to that time.
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