On Aug. 12, a Payson resident filed paperwork to launch a recall of Payson Mayor Tom Morrissey, Vice Mayor Janell Sterner and councilors Jim Ferris and Suzy Tubbs-Avakian.

Stan Garner, the widower of Payson Councilor Su Connell, filed the petition paperwork. Garner says he is working with a group of concerned citizens and filed the paperwork on behalf of the group.

To force a special election, the group must gather 770 signatures to recall the mayor and 1,653 for each of the three council members in the next 120 days.

The petition forms detailed grounds for the recall of each council member. The Aug. 8 firing of Town Manager LaRon Garrett figured in all the complaints.

At press time, only the mayor had replied to a request for comment on the recall effort.

Morrissey reiterated what Ferris said when he moved to remove Garrett — the town manager serves at the pleasure of the council and the council no longer was pleased with Garret’s performance — especially after Morrissey heard, “many instances where citizens expressed their unhappiness with Mr. Garrett and their treatment by other staffers.”

Morrissey said he understood that when “LaRon chose to move this issue to a public setting when it was scheduled to be done in private” it “seems to be what triggered the emotional response more than anything.

“I don’t live in a bubble,” said Morrissey. “It is not a secret that some folks have been upset with this last election. However, trying to change the outcome of the election is quite a slap in the face of Payson residents. Who out there thinks they have the right to try and usurp the voters’ will? Apparently, these folks do.”

On each of the recall applications, the committee detailed grounds for the recall.

Regarding Morrissey, the petition stated, “His conduct and decision making have been divisive and have damaged the morale of town staff, town committees and volunteers. Choosing to remove a 25-year employee without cause, or give a reasonable notice, is costing the Town taxpayers many tens of thousands of dollars and potential liability.”

For Tubbs-Avakian, the petition stated, “disregard for ethical decision making hurts economic development, staff retention, and Town morale.”

In Sterner’s case the petition said, “Her actions regarding the former town manager have cost the taxpayers of Payson thousands of dollars and have hurt the morale of our wonderful town staff. The taxpayers deserve a council that works to unite the many different factions of Payson to ensure a better future for us all.”

The recall committee got more specific with Ferris, who moved to remove Garrett. The petition said, “Failing to follow ethical best management practices in removing a 25-year employee without cause and with only a few hours notice has placed an unnecessary financial burden on Town taxpayers. In disregard of the public’s request to know, when pressed for an answer, Councilman Ferris refused to give the reasons for his abrupt actions or even to enumerate a single reason.”

The group has 120 days to gather signatures from registered Payson voters. If the signatures qualify, the town will then hold a special election for Payson voters only, which would probably take place in the spring.

It will take 770 signatures to recall the mayor, but 1,653 for each councilor. That’s because the town’s statute sets the number of signatures according to the last time a council or mayoral race coincided with a general election.

Payson Town Clerk Silvia Smith said both the Gila County Recorder’s Office and the Town verify the signatures. If enough signatures qualify, only then would the council schedule an election.

In response to the financial concerns of the recall committee, Morrissey said, “Their action to implement a recall effort is what will cost the town thousands of dollars if they are successful in holding a special election.”

Garner has agreed to serve as chair for the recall committee. He did not indicate who was on the committee.

He said this is the first time he has seen a recall effort like this in Payson.

“This is probably the single most diverse group I have been associated with,” he said. “You’ve never seen anything like this, they are very upset.”

The council last week on a 4-3 vote ousted Garrett, giving him until noon the next day to clean out his desk.

contact the reporter at: mnelson@payson.com

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(11) comments


This is Dr. McLaws. I have lived and practiced medicine in Payson since 1987. What has happened with the removal of Laron Garrett is NOT right. This mayor and those cowards on the council owe us, those that voted them into office an explanation. I voted for this mayor BUT am telling all of those that know me and have been my patients that this IS NOT RIGHT. This mayor has no right to do what he has done in the way he and those council members that fired Laron proceeded. I have signed the petition for their recall and urge you to do the same. They are not above the reasonable process that should have been pursued with their " concerns".

Jack Hastings

This group has made our town historically dysfunctional.

Judy Radigan

The town manager could have handled this more appropriately. It should have been done in executive session as I would think most personnel matters are. He however chose to have this brought out at a council meeting. It appears from how the story was presented in the paper the council took the action they deemed necessary. To try to remove a mayor and council members seems a bit childish to me.

Jack Hastings

The new Tea4 war cry is that a recall will cost us money.At the rate they are spending now it will be a bargain.Sometimes you need to spare no expense to remove a cancer.

Jack Hastings

To compare Mad man Morrissey to Donald Trump is just plain dellusional. That guy is not qualified to shine Mr Trumps shoes.

Don Evans

You don't know Jack?? Right....The most common reply to most question's to Mr. Garret at a Town Council meeting, "Let me get back to you on that." Inept, incompetent, should have stayed fixin the streets.

Deborah Hunsaker

I agree with you. I have dealt with LaRon Garrett and his place is NOT as a town manager. His dealings are not honest ones. He is just ruunning crying for his job. How does it feel LaRon after all the shameful things you have done. I say karma.

Jack Hastings

That simply is untrue.Anyone who is a blind follower or just completely ignorant has recognized the total dysfunction this group brings to the town council.The recall effort is sponsored by a group of Republicans who know right from wrong.Mr Morrissey has created unrest and division in the Republican party for many years to the point that his own party shunned him.He is not new to recall the Republican Party gave him a choice of recall or resign.He chose to resign to avoid further scrutiny.Now he is here to infect our town.Please google:Tom Morrissey recall google:Tom Morrissey 5 wives google: Tom Morrissey resigns google:Tom Morrisey Tea Party Google: Tom Morrissey and steven Segal .Even the local tea party must have limits and have the morality to know right from wrong.Or is their goal to blindly follow at the expense of the heart of our town?After googling a bit i do not want this man in my church! nor do i want him near my children!. There is a thread of anger lack of skill and a lack of morality in everything he does.He is the poster child of dysfunction. Please resign before you do more damage to the town staff and the town itself.

Paul Frommelt

It would be easier to accept a rant such as this, if posted by someone with the courage to use his/her real name and identity. Till then, we can only watch you anonymously rage against the Tea Party...AGAIN!

Paul Frommelt

Well, what we see happening on a national scale, to resist and remove President Trump, has now arrived here in Payson in this latest attempt to protect "the old guard."

Mike White

Yeah, if you don't like the results of an election, then do anything you can, with any means necessary, to undo the votes. Call them names, make accusations, but whatever you do, don't just wait until the next election and give them a chance.

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