A Tooele resident has publicly accused Tooele City Mayor Patrick Dunlavy of “slapping him across the face” prior to Wednesday’s city council meeting.
However, the mayor said he didn’t slap the man, but only “touched” his face as a “friendly” gesture.
David Davis told the council that Mayor Dunlavy had refused to shake his hand and slapped him across the face. Davis made his comments during the public forum portion of the council’s meeting.
After making his claim against the mayor, he next distributed copies of a document to the council, which he said was a requested appeal regarding water rights. He said he had filed the complaint a month ago and that he did not understand why the city refused to hold a public hearing on the matter.
City officials remained silent for several minutes after Davis’ comments before Chairman Brad Pratt said the council would take the matter under advisement.
Members of the council said they were unaware that Davis had requested the appeal, but Pratt questioned whether the matter would be forwarded to the city council upon appeal.
Davis left the council meeting shortly after making his statement.
In an interview this morning, Dunlavy said it was a complete shock to him that Davis would say such a thing in front of the council at the meeting.
“It absolutely did not happen the way he described it,” he said. “I was just acknowledging him being there. It was a friendly exchange.”
Dunlavy said he had lightly touched Davis’s face with his fingers after he and Davis shared a joke. The mayor said he has known Davis his entire life.
“I barely touched his face, and it was in a more endearing way,” Dunlavy said. “It’s hard to slap someone with the tips of your fingers.”
Dunlavy said he was unfamiliar with the appeal issue Davis sought to address with the council, but said he had taken pains to work with Davis and his redevelopment efforts in the past.
“I’ve met with him whenever I could, whenever he needed,” Dunlavy said. “Two of the ordinances we discussed [on Wednesday] were based on conversations we had — we were trying to help him.”
Dunlavy said he has tried to contact Davis multiple times after the incident, but said he has been unable to reach him.
After Davis’ comments to the council, Tom Poyner, a Tooele resident and a member of the city’s planning commission, stood to corroborate Davis’ story. Poyner said he had allegedly seen the mayor slap Davis across the face, and that he felt the mayor’s actions were inappropriate. He also added that he believes the city’s water rights policies are “ridiculous.”
The city council proceeded to discuss the topics listed on its regular agenda. After the meeting, Dunlavy approached Poyner and began to speak with him. After exchanging a few words, Dunlavy walked out of the room.
Attempts to reach Davis for comment were unsuccessful by press time.