The Unite Payson recall committee learned last week that they collected enough signatures to recall the mayor’s seat. That is after the town and then the county went through every recall form and verified signatures.
The Unite Payson recall committee is still gathering signatures to recall Jim Ferris, Suzy Tubbs-Avakian and Janell Sterner. The committee confirmed they are short on what they need to recall those three councilors. They would not say how many more signatures they needed to gather to recall those three.
“We have until Dec. 10 to collect signatures,” said Unite Payson spokesperson Stan Garner.
At the same time, Dave Golembewski says he continues to collect signatures to recall councilors Barbara Underwood, Steve Smith and Chris Higgins.
According to the state recall process, Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey has five business days to decide whether he will resign or participate in an election against other candidates.
He’s very clear what his next move will be.
“I have no intention of resigning,” Morrissey said. “The recall group consists of a small group of folks who lost the election and are bitter, and some folks who lost political control of the town and want it back. I am working for and will continue to work for all the residents of this town.”
Garner is not surprised by Morrissey’s decision to run again.
“We didn’t expect him to resign — and a candidate is gearing up for the election,” he said. “Can’t say who it is until the election is called.”
Morrissey feels confident he will win any election.
“My accessibility, transparency, and attention to doing what’s best for Payson is resonating with the townspeople ... the support and encouragement I am getting from many residents is what keeps me going,” he said. “The days of favoritism and backroom deals are over. I also plan on running for re-election in 2020.”
With Morrissey’s decision, the town has 15 days to call for a special election.
The Roundup asked every councilor for comment with the news that the recall of Morrissey would move forward.
Smith said he just wants to move forward with town business.
“Looks like we will have a recall election for Mayor Morrissey based on the will of the people,” he said. “We need leadership that will unite Payson and bring about economic prosperity, positive development and implement the general plan that was approved by the people.”
Underwood said, “The people of Payson are exercising their right as citizens to recall the mayor.”
Besides Morrissey, Smith and Underwood, no other councilor commented on the certification of the signatures gathered against the mayor.
According to Arizona statute, a special election “shall be held on the next consolidated election date pursuant to A.R.S. 16-204 that is 90 days or more after the order calling the election.”
The next month available for an election is March.
Any candidate interested in running in the recall election must go through the same process required to get on the ballot during a regular election. The candidate must pick up an election packet and then collect signatures to qualify.
As of this point, no one has come forward to run against Morrissey.
Golembewski, who has pulled papers against Underwood, Smith and Higgins, said he was not surprised that 770 signatures were collected against the mayor.
“Everybody wants to take the king’s head off,” he said.
He said it will take a significant effort to collect the qualifying signatures to recall the council members, as it takes about three times as many signatures as the mayor.
Golembewski said he quickly gathered 500 signatures, but, “It’s tough after that.” Golembewski said he would pull his recall effort if Unite Payson dropped its effort against Ferris, Tubbs-Avakian and Sterner.