The Kaysville City Council — in a revolt against Mayor Katie Witt — was considering turning on sprinklers and cutting power to a city park to stop a protest concert she backed there that openly aimed to defy state COVID-19 restrictions.
Word about these possible city actions was enough Thursday to chase away the May 30 concert — featuring country star Collin Raye — which now will move to the Studio Ranch Amphitheater near Grantsville.
“The city of Kaysville is really, really confused internally,” concert organizer Eric Moutsos said in explaining the decision to move. “We were invited by the mayor. The City Council knew, and now they’re wanting to turn sprinklers on us to ruin our equipment.”
Moutsos — who has led several protests around the state against virus restrictions — provided a copy of a draft news release given to him (which Witt confirmed was genuine) that warned the city would use sprinklers, cut power, lock parking gates and seek both criminal and civil legal action against anyone responsible for the concert.
“It was a direct threat,” Moutsos said. “What I want to do now is have our next rally in our swimsuits in Kaysville’s Barnes Park because it’s absolutely ridiculous that the City Council did what it did to the people of Kaysville and Mayor Witt, and they should be ashamed.”
But council members say most residents were furious at the attempt by the mayor — who is also running for Congress — to help concert organizers hold a large event that openly defied COVID-19 restrictions.
The council held a special hourlong comment period online Thursday evening where a long parade of residents criticized Witt and the concert, and only one resident praised the concert.
Brandon Barendt presented a petition from 2,600 residents who had opposed the concert. Mike Flood presented another petition calling on Witt to resign or be removed by the council.
Camille Price told Witt, “Wasting time accommodating and defending extremist outsiders who want to exploit our community to potentially disastrous events clearly shows your priorities are not currently aligned with the needs and wishes of your constituency.”
Council members later in the evening voted 5-0 to pass a resolution denouncing the concert and the mayor’s actions to support it. Witt then apologized to the council for not involving it more closely in events and said, “I did not misspend funds. … I did not do anything illegal. But I did hurt your feelings.”
During the past week, Witt, a Republican, also was attacked by rival candidates in that race for what they said was political grandstanding that put her city’s residents in real danger. The left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah and Woods Cross Republican Sen. Todd Weiler called for her resignation as mayor.