Kaysville City Council decides not to call for resignation of Mayor Katie Witt, but censures her instead

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Kaysville Mayor Katie Witt speaks during the 1st Congressional District Republican debate on Tuesday. Her City Council is now calling for her resignation over her support for a concert that aimed to protest and defy COVID-19 restrictions.

The Kaysville City Council backed off plans it signaled to call Thursday for the resignation of Mayor Katie Witt — a 1st Congressional District candidate — and instead unanimously issued her a letter of censure related to her actions supporting a concert aimed at protesting and defying COVID-19 restrictions.

“Personally I’m not ready to ask for the mayor’s resignation, but if she want to offer it — I fully support that,” said City Council member Mike Blackham, a sentiment echoed by several others.

Council member Tamara Tran said the council has no legal power to remove the mayor anyway, so a censure is just as powerful as a call for resignation to express the council’s disappointment with her.

Before the meeting — which attracted many vocal supporters of the mayor — council members had said they expected to call for her resignation, and even put that on its consent agenda generally reserved for noncontroversial items with limited comment.

The censure letter it passed instead denounced the mayor for what it said were violations of city code and misuse of resources as she supported the concert.

The council earlier blocked that proposed free concert in a city park by country star Collin Raye on May 30 by threatening to turn on the sprinklers and cut its power. Organizers then tried to move the event to Tooele County, which blocked it with legal action. After delays, it has now moved to Cedar City, where it’s planned for June 13 at Iron Springs Resort.

“The lack of judgment exhibited in this event and its aftereffects demonstrate an inability to fulfill your duties as mayor and leader in our city,” the censure letter says.

“Council members were misrepresented, city staff threatened, and many residents lost confidence in their elected leader,” it adds. “You brought an unnecessary distraction and division to our city by undermining the processes and manner of governing that we have sworn to uphold.”

Council member John Swan Adams said he wanted a censure and to call for Witt’s resignation after he heard a campaign radio ad by Witt promoting how she supported the concert that called City Council members “government bureaucrats who pulled the plug on constitutional rights.”

“You are the one who was trying to pull the plug on the Constitution,” Adams told Witt. “The Constitution and its amendments are not a free pass to do whatever you want, just because you want to do it.”

Council member Tran said after the mayor said such things about the council, “I’m surprised she still wants to be our mayor.”

“Your support of this concert was inherently tied to your congressional campaign, a private and personal interest,” the council’s letter to the mayor said. “While there may not have been a transfer of money, you did misuse the time, energy, and trust of the city staff and your council.”

It said that included many hours dealing with the fallout of her support of the event. Also, “Had you been able to proceed with opening Kaysville at your discretion, it would have certainly used city funds through the staffing and overtime pay of every police officer that weekend, the impact and cleanup of the park, the liability brought to the city, and more.”

Witt said she has no intention of resigning — which brought cheers from her supporters at the meeting.

“I think it’s important for everyone to know that I will stand up for their constitutional freedom, no matter what,” she said in an interview. Witt said she supported the concert proposed by Utah Business Revival because she viewed it as a protest and wanted to protect its First Amendment rights. Her congressional campaign rivals called it political grandstanding that threatened the health of Utahns.

“Restoring our rights in America has become really emotionally charged and really scary,” Witt said. “I believe that people can make good decisions for themselves and their families. And I took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not red tape, not permits.”

During a debate this week with her three opponents in the June 30 Republican primary, Witt brought up her stance on the concert several times, even when questions asked about far different topics. “I’ve probably taken a stronger stance than anybody on reopening America,” she said proudly.

But Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson questioned that in the debate, saying she actually opposed reopening county pickleball courts when other mayors were seeking to do that.

Other GOP candidates in the race include businessman Blake Moore and dairy farmer Kerry Gibson, a former Weber County commissioner and state legislator. They seek to replace retiring nine-term Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah.

Others have previously called for Witt to resign, including the left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah and conservative Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross.