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BLUFFDALE — Bluffdale Mayor Natalie Hall broke her silence on social media Thursday to defend her husband one week after he was charged with threatening one of her opponents in the mayoral race last year.
Hall said she was threatened and bullied first, before last year's election, and also said on Facebook that the delay in her response is because she and her husband were just returning from Lake Powell.
Since news that her husband faces criminal charges accusing him of sending her one-time opponent Councilman Jeff Gaston packages with threatening messages — including suggestions that he leave town or end his own life — there have been calls on social media for the mayor to resign.
Jason Christopher Hall, 47, of Bluffdale, is charged in 3rd District Court with threatening an elected official, a third-degree felony; plus stalking and making threats to influence public action, class A misdemeanors.
Jason Hall is accused of sending mocking emails to Gaston anonymously, then later hiring an employee to deliver threatening letters and packages on his behalf.
"First, thank you for your concern for our community. I appreciate the messages of love and support from residents, staff and members of the Bluffdale City Council," the mayor said on Facebook.
She said members of the city staff, including her, when she worked as the emergency manager, were "repeatedly threatened, attacked, wrongly accused and bullied by a member of the Bluffdale City Council, making for a hostile workplace" since 2020.
Natalie Hall does not mention Gaston by name in her post. He ran for the council seat in 2019 and joined in 2020.
She said the person's "aggression toward me and other employees escalated" when she announced she was running for mayor.
The mayor did not provide examples of the alleged aggression.
"This council member supported multiple unfounded formal investigations of me and other employees, the results of which showed no wrongdoing," she said.
But Gaston's attorney, Scott Sackett, said Thursday the councilman did not pursue investigations into Natalie Hall, but he believes there were investigations prompted by residents.
In October when Hall was running against former Bluffdale Fire Chief John Roberts, Roberts alleged the city manager and two City Council members showed favoritism toward Hall during the election when they announced an investigation into his time as chief. The investigation was announced more than a year after city leaders received complaints about him — and after he signed a separation agreement allowing him to return to work for the city in the future.
"The city has demonstrated a direct bias in the election process which has been primarily motivated by the city manager, and two council members who have tied their campaigns together with the campaign of my opponent. Unfortunately the cesspool that we often encounter in American politics has appeared in our small town," Roberts told KSL.com in October.
Responding to those allegations, Hall said then that she faced "false accusations" from her opponent's supporters regarding her salary, and accusations that claimed she was campaigning at work. She said outside counsel found no wrongdoing, and she decided to take unpaid leave to run for mayor.
Sackett noted that Gaston endorsed Roberts after dropping out of the election himself, and said the harassment continued as he did so.
Councilman responds to bullying claims
Sackett added that the councilman did not engage in harassment or bullying toward Hall or anyone else in the city. Gaston's only interactions with Hall were as he fulfilled his duties as a councilman, according to the attorney.
He noted Hall's statement did not include "one sign of remorse or any accountability for the actions that her husband took, which the attorney general's office has investigated thoroughly."
Sackett said, "For them to come back now at the 11th hour after charges have been filed and to say, 'Hold on, this is because this council member harassed me, or investigated, made unfounded accusations and made investigations.' … Even if that were true, none of that justifies the conduct that her husband has engaged in."
He noted that thousands of elections take place every year, but they don't often result in death threats.
"Even if you were to say that what the mayor has said is true … if you were to say that her allegations that politics take a heavy toll on the family are true, in what scenario does it justify the actions that her husband has taken?" Sackett said.
Mayor stands by husband
Natalie Hall said her husband told her he sent emails "expressing his concern regarding poor behavior" and "humorous gifts" to the City Council in December last year "without my knowledge."
"This was the first I had learned of it and while I didn't know about it before it took place, I understand the toll the vicious attacks on me had taken, and I appreciate my husband's need to defend my honor," she said.
"Campaigns are hard on a candidate's loved ones, and the campaign to be Bluffdale's mayor was no different. I stand by my husband of 25 years."
The charges against Jason Hall detail several packages delivered to Gaston's home by an employee. Investigators said, at first, they mocked him, and then they later threatened his life if he didn't pull out of the race.
Gaston did eventually exit the race, citing fears for his family's safety.
"The scare tactics employed by Mr. Hall in furtherance of Natalie Hall's campaign worked. Mr. Gaston abandoned his candidacy efforts out of concern for the safety of his family. Yet the threats continued as Mr. Gaston vocally supported the sole opponent of Natalie Hall in the mayoral race in Bluffdale," Sackett said last week.
According to the charges, Gaston received another letter mailed to his house on Nov. 23, after the election, that ended with: "Unfortunately, you have shown that you will not change until something is done. It's time you leave Bluffdale or resign. If you don't, you will end up dead."
In December, the man who mailed the letters and packages admitted his role to authorities, and "stated he routinely did deliveries for (Hall) but provided no explanation why he would surreptitiously do so in this case," the charges say.
But Natalie Hall says her husband "absolutely denies any involvement with threats of violence.
"I have faith in our justice system. It is a slow process, and we ask for patience as we work to share the truth. At this point in time, we cannot comment on, or discuss the case," she said, adding that she plans to continue serving as mayor while the case progresses.
Bluffdale Councilwoman Traci Crockett declined to comment and the rest of the council members have not responded to requests for comment by KSL.com.
Contributing: Logan Stefanich