Kim, or Mayor Thomas, has been the mayor of Stockton, KS since 2002; and she’s the first African-American female to serve as mayor of a Kansas town.
Where is Stockton? The town of about 1500 residents, is about 40 miles due north of Hays, KS. Thomas can trace her roots back five generations to historic Niccodemus, KS, which is just 20 miles west of Stockton via US 24.
Thomas was born in Niccodemus and was raised in Plainville, KS. After attending college at Emporia State, she came back to Northwest Kansas to work for Southwestern Bell. In 1992, her job brought her to Stockton, she worked on phone equipment in two neighboring towns.
Between her job and coaching her sons wrestling and baseball, Thomas met a lot of Stockton’s residents. One of them suggested she should run for the City Council.
“They thought it would stir things up,” Kim told a reporter.
Her first run was unsuccessful, but she ran again in 1999 and won. She’s continued to serve ever since.
In Stockton’s strong manager form of government, the mayor is selected by the members of the City Council with the honor usually rotating every year. However, since Thomas was selected Mayor in 2002, based on her results and hard work, the council has selected her again and again. She’s now in her 14th years as Mayor.
“It’s a good community,” she told a reporter about the town she leads. “People work together.”
As mayor, she’s led the City through some major changes including: improvements to the water plant and sewage treatment facility, water line replacements, and converting an old city building to the police station. New businesses have opened downtown and thanks to a grant from the Kansas Housing Resources Corporation four new moderate income houses have been constructed.
In 2014, the Kansas Mayors Association recognized her as their Mayor of the Year and in October 2015, she was elected president of the Kansas Municipal League.
In addition to her roles as Mayor and with the Municipal League, Mayor Thomas serves on numerous boards. Last year, she was honored as a Trailblazer by The Kansas African American Museum. That, she certainly is.