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South Valley Journal

Council asks if it’s time to give mayor another chance

Nov 18, 2019 04:15PM ● By Justin Adams

Mayor David Watts was stripped of many of his roles and responsibilities last year by the rest of the council. Now some council members think he deserves a second chance. (Herriman City)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

Almost one year ago, four members of the Herriman City Council called on Mayor David Watts (the fifth member of the council) to resign, claiming he had lost the trust of both the public and the city staff as a result of a series of policy violations. When he refused, the council stripped him of many of his roles and responsibilities as a mayor as well as decreased his salary. Now, some of those council members are saying it’s time to give him a second chance.

“When is enough punishment is enough? When do you give opportunities for improvement?” said Councilman Clint Smith during a Nov.13 city council work meeting in which the subject was raised. 

Councilwoman Nicole Martin proposed restoring Watts to three committee assignments that are normally reserved for cities’ mayors: The Southwest Mayors Group, Conference of Mayors and Council of Governments.

“It’s time to bring David back into the fold and have him on those committees that are mayor oriented,” she said. “That makes perfect sense. And then it’s not my problem anymore. You as a council can determine how the mayor is doing with the added responsibility. I’m not asking to touch pay. I’m not asking to touch anything but those very specific committee assignments that are designed for a mayor where we are being hurt because our mayor is not there.”

Both Martin and Smith expressed they felt like the city was being hurt by not having a strong mayor representing the city out in the broader community. 

“There is no shortage of dysfunctional city councils in the state,” Martin said. “Everybody knows about them. They lose opportunities. They don’t have the influence in the broader community that they should have. We are simply hurting ourselves by continuing to foster the dysfunction that we have.” 

Watts said he would welcome the opportunity to return to his role of attending the mayor-oriented committee meetings.

“I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t been one of the most stressful years of my life,” he said. “A lot of that falls on my shoulders. At the same time, I’ve stuck around because I want to do good by the residents that elected me and I signed up for four years and I intend to do the best I can with what time I have.”

The possibility of restoring the mayor to some of his roles and responsibilities was news to both some in the room and residents watching online. The agenda item associated with the discussion was labeled as “Round Table Discussion pertaining to City Council Policy and Procedures.”

Some residents took issue with that vague description, as well as the fact that the discussion was held in a work meeting which doesn’t allow for public comment. 

A poll posted on the Herriman Happenings Facebook group by Councilman-Elect Steven Shields asked Herriman residents whether Watts should be allowed to represent the city on the three committees. More than 200 respondents said no, while only a handful said yes. 

Councilwoman Sherrie Ohrn also pointed out that many residents had called on the mayor to resign last year, to which Martin said that the Mayor’s role should be determined by the voters in the next election. 

“The voters chose David as their mayor,” she said. “If the voters choose to not have him as mayor, they will choose so the next election.”