TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — The memories of former West Lafayette Mayor Sonya Margerum live on for many.
“Sonya was the mayor of West Lafayette when I was asked to run by Mayor Riehle and I went over to talk to Sonya of course right away and she was very encouraging,” said State Representative Sheila Klinker of District 27.
Klinker said Margerum immediately became a mentor, and that has been the case for other women as well.
“What really touched my life is when I was running the first time as city clerk and I knew nothing about running for political office,” said West Lafayette City Clerk Sana Booker. “Not only did she become a part of my committee but she brought on the two other people who were a part of her original team.”
Now eight-years in her term, Sana Booker is still feeling Margerum's impact.
“Every time she saw me, she made sure I knew how proud she was of what I was doing and that I was doing it as a woman in West Lafayette because, as I've often said, putting women in stuff makes it better,” said Booker.
Tippecanoe County Democratic Party Chair Heather Maddox agrees. Growing up in Greater Lafayette, Sonya has helped shape Maddox's views of women who lead communities.
“Women in politics has never not been a thing because I had Sonya, so all I ever knew was that sure a woman is mayor, women are mayors, women are leaders in the community,” said Maddox.
Lisa Dullum was elected as Tippecanoe County Council member in District 4 last year. While she didn't personally know Margerum as long as the others, she said her presence will always be felt.
“Throughout and even after she retired, everyone knew who Sonya Margerum was and really admired her and I think she's left a long-lasting legacy that's going to continue for many years after she's been gone,” said Dullum
Margerum was the longest-serving Mayor in West Lafayette serving 24-years.
The family is currently working with West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis on funeral arrangements. We'll keep you updated as information becomes available.