“The only thing constant is change.” Some people embrace it and others fight it, but it is inevitable.

The Town of Payson voted for change when they elected me as mayor along with two new council members.

One of the first things I did was to instill a change in attitude and direction at town hall that better reflects my long-held mantra that “we work for the people of Payson.” It is their dime, not ours. This meant we must listen to the individuals, businesses and community groups to look for resolutions to problems, and opportunities to prosper. The entrenched first reaction of “no” no longer has a place here.

My business card contains my cell phone number. My office is always open. I have instituted “open mic” sessions and “coffee with the mayor” meetings for the sole purpose of being as accessible as possible to the people of Payson. This format gives me the freedom to interact with all citizens regarding what is most important to them. It’s the little things that matter. It might be a lighting issue, flooding, neighbor disputes or speeders on our quiet streets.

If it’s important to you, it’s important to me.

Bigger issues were brought to my attention as well. For example, a long-term healthy relationship was restored with the tribe when we negotiated a fair and equitable water settlement which had been stalled for years.

One of my platform promises was to use the high-level state and national contacts I have to find help for Payson as needs arise. I was able to get ADOT to Payson very quickly during the severe storm we experienced in February. I was invited to testify on our behalf to restore funding for the Lion Springs Road widening project, which is a matter of grave safety to our residents and visitors.

Speeding through town streets has been an ongoing problem and I have been able to engage the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for help with this.

We have received two new flashing speed advisement/warning digital signs that are being placed on Forest Drive at no cost to the town. More are on the way for other parts of Payson.

Most recently, I was able to get a quick response from the governor’s office to resolve the cut back on school bus routes, even though the town has no direct authority over this issue. A team of state officials is scheduled to arrive within the next couple of weeks to review the funding classification which led to this problem.

Although we are still working on the internet issue, we had a terrific break with APS just announcing their intention to run a critical line from the Valley to Payson, solving a long-term problem without town funding. A line of communication was established with a contact at the Department of Agriculture in Washington to obtain qualified funding for rural towns.

On a local basis, I have formed citizen committees such as the Green Valley Parkway Extension Committee to begin the review and construction of the badly needed road which will link State Route 87 around the rodeo grounds to Green Valley Park. This creates another evacuation route for our west side citizens.

I also encouraged a citizen committee to study and propose a splash pad playground for the children and families which will be operational by next summer.

As members of various town committees term out, and as vacancies occur, I am placing different and quality people for a “fresh eyes” approach. This is a normal function of the mayor’s office.

We successfully implemented a new salary program which created parity and a better merit rating system. Overdue raises went to first responders and town maintenance and other clerical positions. We now have a line-item budget review as part of the zero-base budgeting process which has helped to more accurately appropriate funds. We also instituted an oversight policy for the use of town credit cards.

We now have a Disaster Emergency Food Plan in place because of the effort of a town volunteer. We are revisiting emergency evacuation routes plans to educate the town on how best to act in the event of a catastrophic fire.

We are now part of the recently formed Gila County Homelessness Task Force which is working not only to address the immediate problems of the homeless but also on the long-term prevention of homelessness.

I have been involved in several other new and existing efforts to move Payson into a healthy and vibrant, citizen-directed town. I believe I have been responsive to needs and concerns. It is my honor to serve as the mayor and I am humbled by the support I am receiving. I look forward to continuing this effort.

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(9) comments

Colleen Prettyman

Phil I think I love you. This is exactly why we voted Tom in and this is exactly why we'll do everything we can to keep him there.

Jack Hastings

All you have done is spend after being influenced 1.5mil dollars on poorly planned projects with no clear results.

Paul Frommelt

You don't know "jack!" And Apparently no one else knows you either!

Phil Mason

Jack, Jeff, Jill or whatever your moniker is today. I don't know who you think has spent $1.5 million on what poorly planned projects. Would you care to elucidate or will you simply make misleading or outright false charges as usual without documentation? I have asked you to document many of your other attacks and you have not done so one time yet. Seems like it is time to put up or . . . well you know the rest.

Jack Hastings

Morrissey, We are ashamed that you need to prop yourself up by taking credit for other peoples work but these project you are self promoting on where planned and budgeted well before you took office and even moved to town.The claim you affected the budget somehow is just plain False! You approved a budget prepared by the previous administration and you were confused on camera on how the town budget even works.The town and the town council under your leadership is nothing short of dysfunctional! You have found a home at the local Payson Tea Party group with well rehearsed war cries of Republican against Democrat and us against them which makes you incapable of conducting town business in an impartial manner you swore an oath to do.This is not new behavior for you.You have caused controversy and divide in every political enthusiasm you have been involved in.Self-promoting and campaigning are not a leadership skills.You are devoid of meeting protocol knowledge and have put our town in the legal spotlight everyday!You recently tampered with evidence and removed the archived video of the Aug 15th special town council meeting. Morrissey, We don't want a war! We would like a Mayor that is qualified for the job.

Phil Mason

Jack, Jeff or whatever: I am shocked that you have the audacity to take on the mantra of having a compunctious ability. If true, congratulations. Try to evidence that attribute more often.

Dr. Julie Armstrong

SO much reactive behavior. You claim to work for Payson but have refused to share with the citizenry WHY you felt there was a need to let the Town Manager go -

Where is the listening and accountability when there are No PUBLIC COMMENTS at a Town Hall meeting?

What is the point and purpose of emptying committees and commissions and replacing the membership? There is zero communication from the current majority on council. There is way too much action without explanation, there is no forward thinking and this will hold Payson back from any helpful progress.


(Edited by staff.)

Phil Mason

Your obvious irrational malevolent animus to the Mayor (and Council Members elected at the last election) has hampered the normal functioning of your cognitive processes.

As to your first question: People with even an elementary knowledge of personnel matters have an intrinsic understanding that underlying personnel elements cannot be made public. I recognize that those parties who lost in the last election have not been able or willing to accept the outcome of that election (reminds me of the Billarys), however to demand that the Mayor and Council violate their responsibility to follow the letter and intent of proper procedures is preposterous on its face. That action could actually cause financial risk to the town.

Your second question is ludicrous. The Mayor has created morning coffees, open mic public meetings with no limitations within the legal framework, is on the radio, and has an open door at City Hall. It is the most open and transparent combination of opportunities for the citizens of the town that I have seen in my four decades of political involvement at the local, county and state levels. Your problem seems to be that the Mayor is too transparent, respectful and listening to the average resident instead of kowtowing to a select group of insiders.

As to your third question re: the committees and commissions. Keeping the committee and commission members who were appointed by the previous good 'ol boys to advance the preferences of those formerly in charge would simply cause an ongoing conflict within the city bureaucracy. We have plenty of examples in the federal government how well that works.

When the voters expressed their desire to change the direction of the town, I believe they meant that to include replacing the foot soldiers of the former officials and make sure that the new vision be implemented as rapidly as possible to enhance the economic and social life of Payson. For the Mayor to simply keep the old would forestall any possibility of a clear and orderly implementation of the future.

As to your last point: The number one problem with the recall campaign is it is run by a bunch of losers who pine for the old days when they made all the decisions and were the entities who could dispense the financial largesse of the taxpayers to their friends and associates. Those days are over and Payson is the better for it.

(Edited by staff.)

Paul Frommelt

All excellent points Phil.!

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