Western Kansas home of state’s first Black female mayor

As we leave Black History Month and enter Women's History Month, we introduce you to one woman leading the way on both fronts in western Kansas.
Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 10:36 PM CST
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STOCKTON, Kan. (KWCH) - The town of Stockton, Kan., is the county seat of Rooks County. It’s also where Kim Thomas became the first Black female mayor in the state and one of the longest-serving mayors.

“Stockton has always been kind of, they’ve always welcomed black people. It hasn’t been like some places where you weren’t welcome,” said the former mayor.

Thomas’ career in politics began in the 90s.

“You know the first time I ran for city commission, I didn’t make it, but I tried again. I wasn’t defeated,” recalls Thomas.

She was elected to the city commission in 1999, and in 2002, the commission selected her to be mayor. She was selected several times after and served in the position for 18 years.

“The commissioners decided who they wanted to do it and I think after a while because I was so involved doing different things, they thought well we might as well keep her involved in all these things,” said Thomas.

The former mayor has deep roots in northwest Kansas. She grew up in Plainville and is the fifth generation from Nicodemus, a historically Black community, settled after the Civil War. As mayor, Thomas says she knew she had to set a good example.

“I thought as being Black and being the first person, I would have to do a little extra so, you know, I got involved in different things,” she said.

Thomas led the city through major changes to the water plant and sewage treatment facility and housing improvements. In 2014, the Kansas Mayors Association named her “Mayor of the Year.”

“Serving the city and representing the people of Stockton, that meant a lot and I always enjoyed going to the school visiting with the children,” Thomas said.

While she now enjoys retirement, Thomas continues to encourage others to follow their dreams.

“It doesn’t matter your skin color, or what race you are, that doesn’t make the person, it’s what’s inside your heart, is what makes a person,” she said.

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