She was the first woman elected mayor of Tallahassee. We located Joan Heggen at her new home, one of Tallahassee's assisted living facilities. She's put her life of teaching and public service behind her and is enjoying retirement, much different than 30-plus years ago when she accepted a challenge to run for public office.
Heggen says, "Everybody in my neighborhood were brand new and we all got together and said, boy we really love this city and we'd wish they'd do this and that, and so they said somebody should run, and I was the only one at that time who they said, this is for you."
Heggen recalls growth and development and putting fluoride in the city's water supply as major issues facing her and the commission in the early 70s. Those and the not so small matter of hiring a new city manager.
"We hired Dan Kleman, and that was an extraordinarily controversial act. He was very young, he wasn't from Florida, and everybody said this guy's gonna last for a week, and what does he know, and as it turned out he knew a great deal.
Joan Heggen left the city commission after only one term to devote more time to her young sons. She served one of those years as the first woman to hold the then ceremonial role of mayor, but she continued her public service in the Bob Graham administration, and as an assistant to county managers in Broward and Leon County. She encourages other women to follow in her footsteps.