Election

Group files appeal after judge rules in favor of Mayor Tom Morrissey regarding recall election.

Recall supporters are waiting to hear if the Arizona Supreme Court will hear their appeal, which could help resolve questions statewide about what is needed to force a recall of an elected official.

Things have been moving quickly through the courts in the Unite Payson vs. Mayor Tom Morrissey case because officials continue to prepare for the March 10 recall election of Morrissey pending the outcome of the appeal.

Judge Randall Warner ruled Monday that the town clerk, Gila County recorder and the county board of supervisors should continue to prepare for that election, including preparing and issuing candidate packets, creating the ballot and establishing polling places.

Warner made the ruling after Unite Payson, which includes appellants Kim Chittick and Stan Garner, moved to stay pending their appeal, which he granted.

Unite Payson has filed appeals with the Arizona Court of Appeals Division II and the Arizona Supreme Court.

On Monday, the Arizona Court of Appeals Division II, scheduled a case hearing for 10 a.m. Nov. 13 to allow time for the Arizona Supreme Court to decide if it will take the appeal.

If it does not, division II could then hear the case.

Unite Payson filed the appeal Oct. 31 shortly after Warner agreed with Morrissey’s argument that the number of signatures needed to recall him was greater than the amount Unite Payson had collected.

When Unite Payson initially launched the recall, the town clerk calculated they needed to collect 770 signatures from registered Payson voters to force a recall election.

This was based on state law and the Arizona Constitution, which states that to call a recall election, organizers must collect 25 percent of the number of votes for that office in the “last preceding general election.”

The last time a mayor was elected in a general election in Payson was 17 years ago in 2002. The most recent election, however, was the 2018 primary, when voters elected Morrissey.

“So, as between the two, which election best fits the meaning of “last proceeding general election” as contemplated by the Constitution?” Warner wrote in his ruling.

Morrissey’s lawyers argued the 2018 primary better fit that definition and Unite Payson needed to collect 1,225 signatures.

Warner agreed, saying the August 2018 election is a better fit to the term “last preceding general election” than the 2002 election.

“It is more consistent with the Constitution’s purpose of measuring the number of signatures needed to call a recall by the present size of the electorate. And an election from 17 years ago cannot reasonably be considered ‘preceding,’” Warner wrote.

It is unclear when the Arizona Supreme Court will decide if it will hear the appeal.

Contact the editor at abechman@payson.com

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(7) comments

Paul Frommelt

Why indeed? Follow the money! And that is exactly what is happening. Perhaps millions of dollars!

Jack Hastings

The Mayor has help political office in the past. He caused the same divisive atmosphere then as he does now.

Phil Mason

Really, Jack??? I suppose you want to conflate being an officer in a political party as holding public office? Are you always this disingenuous, or do you have a special bloviating antagonistic consistency only when it comes to the Mayor. I guess both might apply.

Every Precinct Committeeman in both parties are elected to political office, however, as you already know, we were speaking to elective public office. If we are using your ridiculously puerile positions based on personal or financial animosity to the Mayor, thousands of ordinary citizens fit the category.

The Mayor, as Party Chair, was the adult in the room when it came to his leadership. Any division was there before the Mayor took that Party Office and it remains today. It is called the swamp versus the people.

I know - I was there and you weren't, so until you have some firsthand information to the contrary to be discussed, we will assume you have the same standing as Adam Schiff. Not a good place for any person with honor and integrity to stand.

Jack Hastings

ANSWER I - A large and growing number of bushiness leaders and taxpayers know the Mayor is not impartial,qualified,current,nor legally and fiscally responsible.

ANSWER II - It is the only means available to the taxpayers to insure they have an opportunity to demand more qualified leadership to move our town forward and stop all unfounded focus of our tax dollars on the past. We want someone who works with the entire community and listens going forward.

Phil Mason

Really??, All information I hear on the street confirms a large and growing number of voters AND business owners are concerned with your good 'ol boy buddies and what has occurred since 2003. Everyone should take note of the fact that all roads that raise concerns about the financial transactions since 2003 all lead back to that date.

Secondly, Are you really trying to sell the story that having a May Recall Election will protect the citizens of Payson from irreconcilable harm when the regular election will take place a few scant weeks later. That is preposterous on it's face.

You really need to come up with a different excuse for your actions, cause that dog don't hunt.

Phil Mason

QUESTION I: Where does Unite Payson get the money to pay for a small busload of lawyers from one of the most costly law firms in Arizona - Snell & Wilmer?

It seems apparent that the Mayor can barely afford to hire one attorney to defend against a bogus recall effort based on made up issues while the Unite Arizona good 'ol boys are spending like their lives depend on it to hire a veritable plethora of attorneys.

Maybe their lives - at least their political lives - DO depend on this recall while the Mayor, who has never held office before, is simply trying to serve the taxpayers of Payson with no personal stake in the outcome of the citizen committee review.

QUESTION II: WHY is Unite Payson spending this amount of money to advance a Recall when there is a regular election a mere few months after the special costly Recall Election Date? This seems like an awful lot of money from a group that appears desperate to immediately regain control of the reins (and records) of the town. It begs the WHY $$$ question.

Judy Radigan

I agree with yr comments. I wonder who funds this action. The Payson citizens voted. If these individuals want change they should run for office and if they make a reasonable case maybe they can get elected. Recall is a poor way of disagreeing with policy.

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