EAGLE MOUNTAIN — Former Eagle Mountain mayors say Kelvin Bailey, who on Friday concocted a story that he'd been abducted, should step down.
If Bailey quits his post — and there are some calls for his resignation on the city's Web site — then he would continue a political tradition in the fast-growing Utah County town.
Since its inception in 1996, none of Eagle Mountain's mayors have served a full elected term.
"I think that whenever a mayor's personal situation or decisions create a lack of confidence and bad publicity that reflects badly on the town, that the mayor owes it to the public to step down," said Debbie Hooge, the town's first mayor who resigned after facing off with developers who promised to make her time in office difficult.
Rob Bateman, who served the last 18 months of Hooge's term and chose not to run for re-election because his company briefly took him to Europe, said there are "complexities in the job that make it stressful."
"It's still a relatively new community and we're growing incredibly fast. There are a lot of expectations," he said. "Most of the citizenry are understanding, but there's a few who want everything right now."
Hooge, Bateman and Paul Bond, who was elected after Bateman's stint but also resigned before his term was over for job-related issues, said perhaps Bailey underestimated the challenge when he ran for the position, promising to make sweeping changes and solve every problem.
Bailey, who did not return Deseret News phone calls seeking comment, told his wife and authorities that he'd been abducted at gunpoint Thursday evening. He made up the story because he'd been gone all night, according to a statement issued Saturday.
"Over the past several months events have happened in my life that has placed me under extreme stress both personally and professionally. Last Thursday this stress reached a new peak," he said in the statement. "After more than 24 hours of no sleep and an all-night drive, reality set in and I remembered the most important thing in my life, my family."
He said the story was meant only for his wife. He didn't know she'd already called police to report him missing.
"It was poor judgment that perpetuated this story and I take full
responsibility for it," he said.
Utah County police agencies — and the FBI — attempted to verify his story as part of their investigation. Later, after returning to Utah, he recanted the story.
Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson said he can't say right now if Bailey will face legal charges for his actions. He could be charged for making a false report to law enforcement, a class B misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
City Councilman Mark Madsen said Bailey should stay in office. He expects a "Get Kelvin" faction of residents in the city will try to run him out.
"Obviously, I cringed when I heard the story," Madsen said. "It's so out of character. It's so bizarre."
Madsen said Bailey told him he was upset after a tumultuous city council meeting Wednesday where the council tried to enact some new development restrictions.
Bailey told him he didn't sleep Wednesday night, attended the pheasant shooting event Thursday and then just found himself driving south for most of Thursday night.
City Administrator Chris Hillman said the mayor called the staff together Monday morning and told them he was fine and would be meeting with each council member individually.
He also promised to write a letter to the community this week.
"The weight of the situation was apparent (as Bailey addressed the staff)," Hillman said.