Efforts to recall the entire Payson Town Council have fizzled out.
Unite Payson had until Dec. 11 to turn in signatures to recall Vice Mayor Janell Sterner and councilors Jim Ferris and Suzy Tubbs-Avakian, but failed to gather the needed signatures in time.
A separate recall effort is also ending. Resident Dave Golembewski launched his effort in retaliation to Unite Payson and sought to recall the remaining councilors — Steve Smith, Chris Higgins and Barbara Underwood.
Golembewski said he does not have the signatures needed to recall Underwood and Higgins, but has gathered more than the roughly 1,700 needed to recall Smith.
While he has the signatures to recall Smith, Golembewski said he would not file the paperwork by the Dec. 26 deadline because Unite Payson had not turned in their signatures.
“I will keep my promise to drop my three recalls of Steve Smith, Barbara Underwood and Chris Higgins to save the taxpayers of Payson the special election costs as all of the other recalls have been dropped,” he wrote in an email.
Golembewski said the voters would decide in August who they wanted to stay on the council.
Up for re-election will be Mayor Tom Morrissey, Smith, Sterner and Underwood.
“I think they (Underwood and Smith) will get voted out in the August primary,” he said in a phone interview. “And we can move along with good things for the town.”
The reasons Unite Payson didn’t follow through with its recall effort are more unclear.
Stan Garner and other members of the Unite Payson recall effort said they failed to collect enough signatures for two reasons — intimidation and Morrissey’s lawsuit.
“As soon as Morrissey filed his case, signature gathering stopped — no one wanted to be subpoenaed to court,” said Garner.
Garner said their fears were justified.
“The mayor’s minions were going around and subpoenaing anyone who signed, not just the signature gatherers,” he said.
But it was the publishing of a list of 10 signature gatherers on social media on Oct. 24 that ended the effort, said Garner.
“After that hit list came out, nobody stopped by the office,” he said.
Garner believes Unite Payson would have been successful if they knew to collect 1,200 plus signatures for the mayor from the start.
“If we would have known about the 1,200, we would have gotten closer to the 1,600,” he said.
Unite Payson collected enough signatures to recall Morrissey, but a judge ruled the group needed more.
The ruling said signatures needed to recall the mayor had to be based on the last time a mayor was elected in Payson, rather than on the last general election in which a mayor was elected.
That decision bumped the required signatures from 770 to more than 1,200.
Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed that lower court decision and prohibited the recall election against Morrissey to continue, killing the effort, according to Garner.
“When the Supreme Court came out our attorney told me that decision enjoined the election — meaning it wasn’t going to happen no matter what,” said Garner.
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