Longtime Colorado City Mayor Joseph Allred steps down after 9 years at the helm of former polygamous town

Allred refused to elaborate further about his resignation or his future plans, other than to say he was “going into some private industry stuff.”

Salt Lake Tribune/August 12, 2022

By Mark Eddington

Colorado City Mayor Joseph Allred has quietly stepped down after nine turbulent years at the helm of the former polygamous town in Arizona once controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In a July 15 letter he left on Town Manager Vance Barlow’s desk, Allred wrote that he had decided “to pursue other opportunities” and was resigning as “Mayor and Town Council member, effective Monday, July 18, 2022.”

Barlow said he didn’t know what prompted the resignation, and the mayor did not offer any additional explanation. In a brief phone interview with The Salt Lake Tribune, Allred chalked up his surprise resignation to politics.

“I wanted to get out of politics,” he said. “Politics aren’t what they used to be. There are a lot of pressures and a lot of opinions from a lot of people. I felt like I didn’t want to deal with the pressure anymore.”

Allred refused to elaborate further about his resignation or future plans other than to say he was “going into some private industry stuff.” He also refused to comment on virtually everything else, including his FLDS affiliation, even demurring to express his hopes for the town’s future. Allred is purportedly still loyal to disgraced FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for assaulting two underage girls.

Others are not as reticent. Colorado City Councilman Thomas Holm believes Allred quit because he had moved to Cane Beds, an unincorporated area about six miles south of the city, and was no longer legally qualified to serve as mayor. Arizona law and the town’s code require elected officials to live in the cities they serve.

Holm said the mayor recently tried to get a nonresident who lived in nearby Apple Valley appointed to the town’s utility board. The council rejected the applicant, and Holm said he planned to ask the mayor about his primary place of residence at the next meeting.

“I think the mayor knew his jig was up,” Holm said. “He knew he was going to be removed because he wasn’t a resident of Colorado City anymore.”

Holm also said the consensus among some on the council is that Allred’s primary loyalty was to Jeffs, not the city or residents.

Allred could not be reached to respond to Holm’s allegations.

According to Holm, he and a few others learned several months ago that Allred was asked to leave a home he was occupying in Colorado City and had moved out of town. The home in question was owned by Allred’s estranged father-in-law, Jerold Williams.

Williams, whose daughter is married to Allred, confirmed that the mayor and his family were living rent-free in his 15,000-square-foot home until moving out last November to go live elsewhere, presumably in Cane Beds.

A former FLDS member, Williams lived in the house he built in the late 1970s until a decade ago. That’s when Jeffs — who was already in prison at the time — labeled Williams an apostate, eventually resulting in him leaving and losing his home and family.

All homes and businesses in Colorado City and neighboring Hildale, on the Utah side of the border — jointly known as the Short Creek Community — once belonged to the United Effort Plan, the trust the FLDS church created in 1942. Men who were members and ran afoul of Jeffs and his edicts were often turned out of their homes and had their families split up and given to others who were in good standing with church leaders, according to Williams and other ex-FLDS members.

In 2005, the state of Utah seized control of the trust and, in 2015, put former FLDS members in charge of the trust to subdivide and sell the properties and, in some cases, restore them to their former owners.

When Williams reacquired ownership of his home from the trust a few years ago, he said he sent his son to inform Allred — who was living there with his family at the time — that he needed to make alternative living arrangements or start paying rent. Allred, he added, told him he needed a year before his other property was ready.

“When that year was up, they just moved out,” he said. “They didn’t even talk to me. They just moved and that’s it. I haven’t talked to my [daughter] for over 10 years.”

Controversy has often dogged the mayor since he took office nine years ago.

In 2014, he was called as a witness in a civil rights lawsuit filed against the town and Hildale. The suit was brought by former city residents Ron and Jinjer Cooke, who alleged the city government discriminated against them due to their status as non-FLDS members.

Asked in court about the relationship between his FLDS church and the town’s government, Allred refused to answer, asserting his constitutional right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. A jury in the case, which was tried in Phoenix’s U.S. District Court, eventually sided with the Cookes, awarding the couple $5.2 million.

Also in 2014, federal attorneys deposed Short Creek Marshal Helaman Barlow about several allegations, including one that Allred had married a 15-year-old girl. The allegations were revealed in court documents that were part of a Department of Justice case against Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah. Barlow refused to answer questions about the mayor’s alleged marriage.

Jeffrey Matura, attorney for Colorado City, said to the best of his knowledge, nothing happened in the case.

“To the best of my knowledge there has never been any criminal charges or other charges brought against former Mayor Allred related to this issue,” he said.

In 2017, U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland found that Colorado City, Arizona, had been run as an extension of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, violating non-members’ rights in the process. In 2019, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Holland’s ruling. The ruling stemmed from the Justice Department’s successful suit against the town for local utilities denying water and power to nonmembers, ignoring crimes committed by church members, shielding church leaders and helping Jeffs elude capture by the FBI.

Allred, according to Holm, was a no-show at Fourth of July, Veterans Day and Memorial Day events in the community due to his loyalty to Jeffs.

“Warren Jeffs issued edicts directing members not to attend any of those kinds of functions,” Holm said, adding that he chided the mayor a few times for his absence.

Councilman-elect Dalton Barlow, who will join the town council in December, said there were some bad feelings between the mayor and others.

“[Allred] felt like everyone was coming in and taking over the town, and it wasn’t his version of what the town should be,” said Barlow, a former FLDS member. “He was concerned about all these ex-members moving back and being part of the community, building it up and putting on a good Fourth of July.”

With Allred gone, Vice Mayor Donald Richter — who did not run for reelection and will lose his seat at the end of his term — will serve as acting mayor until the new town council is seated in December. In last week’s primary election, the top four candidates for four vacant seats on the council all secured more than 50 percent of the vote, meaning under Arizona law they can bypass the general election and take their seats once the current council members’ terms are over.

Other than Councilman Alma Hammon, who won reelection, the other three top vote-getters will be new to the seven-member council. Once seated, Town Manager Barlow explained, the new council’s first order of business will likely be choosing a new mayor and vice mayor. They also will need to pick a replacement for Allred’s council seat, which could be filled by Joanne Shapley, a current council member who finished fifth in the primary.

Under the present council, Holm said, the FLDS held a four-to-three majority. Most members of the new council will be non- or ex-FLDS.

“One of the problems we’ve had has been a majority of FLDS members who paid more attention to the directives of the church than they did to the people,” Holm added. “We want the council members to represent the people, not the church.”

For his part, Vance Barlow is sorry to see Allred go.

“We’ll miss him,” the town manager said. “But someone else will be appointed to fill that role, and I expect they will step up to it and do a good job.”

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