The rancorous national political tenor has filtered down into the local Payson Town Council race, with volatile social media posts, slashing campaign websites, email blasts, sign stealing — and even a reported death threat.
Payson police arrested a Star Valley man after he reportedly made a threat against Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey during Morrissey’s appearance on a radio show.
Payson Police arrested William Powell on a charge of threatening/intimidating.
Arresting officer J. Oldeschulte reported he arrived at the KMOG radio station on July 9 to learn Powell had allegedly called in to threaten to shoot Morrissey.
Debra Farrell, co-owner of the station with her husband Mike, “was taking calls” because so many calls were coming in she had to take the spillover, according to a police report.
She reported Powell called in hoping to talk to the mayor, but “he was cursing a lot.”
When Debra refused to put him on the air, Powell went off on another “rant,” then before he hung up “he said that he would ‘like to get a gun and shoot the mayor,’” according to the report.
After talking to Debra, Oldeschulte went to Powell’s home and found “it was very obvious” that Powell had been drinking “as he had red, bloodshot, watery eyes, his speech was slurred and his emotions were changing constantly,” according to the police report.
Powell at first denied making the phone call. Oldeschulte looked at his phone and identified the KMOG number.
“He ... admitted that he had called and said some cuss words to Debra and had apologized for those cuss words, but denied ever stating he was going to shoot the mayor ... (then) went on to say that he thinks the mayor is ‘a piece of s—t.’”
Powell has a history of aggravated assault. In 2016, Powell was arrested for domestic violence/aggravated assault. Besides that arrest, Powell had multiple other assault and disorderly conduct arrests, including possession of a firearm in California without a concealed weapons permit, according to the report.
“This all raised concern that there would be a possibility that William could have the means to follow through with his threats, especially in his intoxicated state,” wrote Oldeschulte.
Powell has since been released.
Meanwhile, council candidate Barbara Underwood was shaken after she got a call from her grandson. He reported seeing one of her campaign signs with her head cut off.
“He took it as a threat,” said Underwood.
She visited the sign and concluded the mutilation of the sign must have been deliberate.