GLADWIN – Over coffee and breakfast sandwiches, Gladwin Mayor Dee Jungman sat down to talk with the Record about her career in small-town politics, what it’s like to be a woman in a seemingly man’s world, and the importance of being involved. While the conversation could have been a short one – it was over two hours long, thanks in part to Jungman’s passion on the subjects, and also her friendliness with everyone that walked in the door of the local restaurant.
“So where do you want me to start?” Jungman said. A loaded question coming from a woman who was born in Gladwin, and has spent the majority of her life here.
Jungman began exactly where you would expect – with her family. “I have three children, my oldest one, Tammy, just retired from the federal government in Washington D.C.” Jungman’s daughter was recruited by the FBI right out of high school, and has worked for the federal government ever since. Jungman’s son, Brian Jungman, works as the Parks Manager for the City of Gladwin, and her youngest daughter, Kim owned the Medicine Shoppe in town before she died in 2009. In addition she has one granddaughter and one great-grandson, who will be two in July.
Outside of Jungman’s family, the thing that is most important to her is people. “I’m a people person, I’ve always been that way,” Jungman said.
Before her retirement, Jungman worked in home healthcare. “I took care of people in the last days of their life,” Jungman said.
She also worked at Ace Hardware for a number of years, during which time she decided to run for City Council. “I was elected in 1989, and I beat their Mayor Pro Tem out,” Jungman said. “Those men were so mad at me they wouldn’t talk to me for about two months.”
Jungman was the first woman to be elected to the Gladwin City Council. At the time she had long hair. Jungman decided to cut it short and didn’t tell anyone on the council she was doing this.
“I walked in and one of them said, ‘Oh, you cut your hair,’ and I said, ‘Oh, you do talk.’ They all kind of laughed and that broke the ice. After that I was one of the guys,” Jungman said with a laugh, “We got along great.”
The decision to run came after an incident with the city street cleaner. The street cleaner was going by her house on Silverleaf St. at 2 a.m. on what was one of the hottest days of the summer, and everyone in the neighborhood was sleeping with their windows open. The street cleaner was running without water, so the dust was being kicked up into people’s houses, and the noise of the cleaner woke people up.
“He did this about 14 times. I got out of bed, went outside and flagged him down,” Jungman said. “I told him if you go by here one more time I’m going to shoot your tires out...I only had a BB gun,” Jungman laughed.
The next day she went down to city hall and spoke with them about the situation. The city then changed the street cleaner’s time to be out during the daytime. Jungman saw how she could help to make a difference and decided to run for city council.
After she was elected, Jungman was on the council for another 10 years before another woman got on the council. Then in September of 2016, Jungman became Gladwin’s first woman mayor when she was appointed to the position by the City Council after long-time Mayor Tom Winarski retired.
She has since ran and been elected for the position twice.
“I loved being on the council, and I love being the mayor,” Jungman said, “I’ve worked with some excellent council people throughout the years.”
The list of positive things that Jungman has been directly involved in in the community is a mile long, but some of her favorites include the Festival of Lights Christmas Parade, the skate park, the North Park pavilion, the Gladwin Community Arena, the park amphitheater, cleaning up the downtown sidewalks, and now the bike trail.
Being a trailblazer for women in a small town hasn’t always been easy for Jungman. Over the years she has had various community members tell her that she has no business being mayor because that is a “man’s job”, or been told that she’s too emotional for the position. Fortunately, Jungman’s work has changed the opinions of some. “They’ve come back up to me, shook my hand and said, ‘I was wrong’,” Jungman said.
Jungman hopes that her path to Mayor can help to encourage young girls who might be interested in getting involved with their community.
“Young girls should get involved early, because it’s not a man’s world anymore. There are high officials that are women and they do an excellent job. If they want to get involved please call. We want our younger generation to follow in our footsteps, and do better than we did,” Jungman said.
Ultimately, for Jungman, it’s never been an issue of her gender. “It’s not if you’re a man or a woman. It shouldn’t be judged on that, it’s if you can do the job.”
And being mayor is a busy job for Jungman. “I like to be a full-time mayor, I’m on call 24/7,” Jungman said. “I don’t feel my office hours are from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., I feel my job is to watch out for the city and the taxpayers. I listen to their complaints and also their suggestions.”
Her constituents clearly know this, judging by how many people stopped by the table to say hello to the mayor during the conversation.
If you have any questions for Mayor Jungman, her phone is always on, and she can be reached at 989-426-7127.