Fraudulent election letter circulated in Manti City

An envelope containing Manti City Councilman Darren Dyreng’s home address as the return address and a fallacious letter, supposedly signed by Dyreng, saying that if he is elected mayor, the city won’t need businesses any more.

MANTI—A fallacious letter, supposedly signed by Darren Dyreng, a Manti City councilman and candidate for mayor, was sent to Manti businesses last week telling them that if Dyreng was elected, their businesses would have to shut down.

The letter arrived in an envelope containing Dyreng’s home address as the return address.

It said: “Dear Manti Business, Due to government grants and other pilfered funds, we are no longer in need of your services. The minute I am sworn in as mayor, effective immediately, you must close your doors. You will no longer be in business. This is part of our new city plan to drive all business away once and for all! Government first, business last.”

It had a mark that looked like a signature. Below the signature was Dyreng’s home telephone number.

“Somebody had a severe lapse in judgment, and it’s kind of despicable,” said Dyreng, who ended up being the top vote-getter in a three-way primary for mayor.

He said the letter had been turned over to the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office for investigation into whether it violated any laws.

Dyreng said after hearing about the letter, he went out and visited many businesses personally to let them know the person who sent the letter “was absolutely not me.”

“They all agreed it’s lunacy,” Dyreng said.

Dyreng said it was ironic that someone would allege that he doesn’t support local businesses, because as vice president and branch manager of Cache Valley Bank in Ephraim, helping small business is his main job.

He and others in the branch were on the front line of helping small businesses in Sanpete and Sevier counties qualify for the Payroll Protection Program, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) passed during the Trump administration.

When the program started, he and his staff worked 80 hours per week, generally from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., helping businesses apply for forgivable loans from the Small Business Administration.

From March 2020 through the first quarter of 2021, his branch processed about 550 loans totaling about $60 million for businesses in the two counties.

Dyreng says Manti does everything it can to help businesses in the city. “Whenever a business has requested assistance, we have done everything within reason to accommodate them,” he said.

The sports park completed in 2019 had the dual purposes of meeting local recreation needs and drawing people to Manti to patronize local business. “Same thing with the (swimming) pool,” he said.

Both facilities, Dyreng said, were built without raising taxes.

Gary Chidester, a fellow councilman, said he was shocked to see citizens of Manti stooping to such behavior. “This is libelous, fraudulent and disappointing,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dyreng and Shannon Miller, another candidate for mayor, both said some of their campaign signs had been stolen in the weeks prior to the primary.

Dyreng said he started putting his signs up each morning and taking them down each night so they wouldn’t all be taken.

Miller posted photos on Facebook, taken with a security camera, of a man wearing a hoodie taking down her signs.

Such tactics are contrary to the traditional community spirit of Manti, Dyreng said.

People who want to improve the city pitch in and do volunteer work, such as the young couple who recently converted deteriorated tennis courts to new pickleball courts, he said. They don’t engage in “cowardly acts of defamation.”