To Be Mayor in Payson, Arizona
What a thankless job it is to be our Mayor in Payson, Arizona today. Yet the man who has the job is determined to hand the town back into the hands of the people. “You the people have the power, take it.” A familiar quote by Mayor Tom Morrissey at his Wednesday morning “Chat with the Mayor” open forum sessions. The Mayor answers questions, or tries to the best of his knowledge, with full transparency. “It’s your town, you deserve to know how your taxes are spent and to be treated with respect by the town staff. If they don’t listen to you or give you any grief, you come to me and we’ll go over there together. Then we’ll see what happens. We work for you!”
If you’ve been fortunate enough to spend more than five minutes with the Mayor, you know right away he means what he says. He’s not one to say what people want to hear to win you over, he doesn’t have to. One can’t help but notice his genuine demeanor and willingness to serve with integrity. He has had a difficult time settling into his position because of staff insubordination and instead of being forthcoming with prudent information, he has had to ask the right question, to get the appropriate answer. This raises its own set of questions but ultimately doesn’t show the proper respect due to the Mayor, or the office he represents. Something the people of Payson had no idea about for sure. You’d never hear a word about this from the Mayor. It’s certainly nothing for the town staff to be proud of. Nonetheless, it hasn’t hindered the performance of the Mayor to date.
Amid this hostile environment, the Mayor has managed to put Payson back on course with the Tonto Apache tribe by securing a water deal with them at a reasonable cost, has regained audited accounting for the out of control spending through P-cards (personal credit cards for town employees), is a member of our new Northern Gila County Drug Task Force, and the new Payson Homelessness Initiative that has remedied our lack of support for our homeless population has started the process to finally complete a desperately needed additional evacuation route behind the rodeo grounds to Green Valley Park and has always been open to hearing what the people are concerned about.
When we voted him into office, we made a good decision for our town. We wanted things to change for the better in Payson. Things are changing for the better. We must continue to support and believe in the Mayor as he continues to demand answers to questions that have purposely been undisclosed to the public. In doing so, the Mayor has hit the nail on the head opening a hornets nest of vicious lies and unwarranted attacks. We must ask ourselves, why would a group of people be so desperate as to openly lie to the public about an elected official? Could he be threatening their livelihood or even their freedom? When questions are perceived as threats a guilty conscience is at work.
When the Mayor and Council voted not to renew LeRon Garrett’s contract with the town you’d of thought the Mayor shot the Pope! This was a council majority decision that was in the best interest of the town going forward. Out of respect for Mr. Garrett no reason was publicly given, and according to Arizona State Statute Title 9 SS 303-C “The person appointed to the office of city or town manager shall serve at the pleasure of the governing body of the city or town and may be removed without cause by a majority vote thereof.” 1was not required. LaRon was appointed as town manager by Vice-Mayor Michael Hughes, and his contract was effective October 1, 2015.2 He was the
Immediately after LaRon’s contract was not renewed, a group calling themselves Unite Payson filed a Recall Petition. Six months after the Mayor took office. Which coincides with the minimum time one has to wait to file a petition for recall.
This group is headed by Stan Garner. Members of the Unite Payson group include candidates in the last election who lost their campaign bids and are more than bitter about it and others who want to keep the “Good ‘Ole” boys in power.
We may find the same names behind the Recall Petition as are on the board of directors for The Rim Country Educational Alliance Separate Legal Entity, a Political Subdivision of the State of Arizona (RCEA-SLE). The formation of such was introduced while Kenny Evans was mayor of Payson in 2011.5 During this time the Town of Payson discussed terms of an Intergovernmental Agreement with the Town of Star Valley in several Gila County Board of Supervisors meetings to form the RCEA-SLE.6 On July 6th, 2011 the agreement was finalized. Curiously on the document it officially stated the Entity’s address as:
Rim Country Educational Alliance Separate Legal Entity, A Political Subdivision of the State of Arizona. ℅ The Town of Payson, 303 N Beeline Hwy, Payson, AZ.
Please read the article entitled: “What Happened to ‘Community’ in This Community Organization?” by Jim Ferris for detailed information about the impact these entities have made in our community.