Mayor Michelle Kaufusi: A new day in Provo
Friends, neighbors and citizens, I am ecstatic today to sit down and write my first column as the mayor of Provo!
I want to say first and foremost how grateful I am for your support of me and my staff as we’ve transitioned into this office. Your kind words and encouragement over the past couple of months have added more excitement and energy to our team. We feel absolutely ready to take the helm and lead out going forward.
As I’ve spent time this past year listening to residents, business leaders and community groups, it has become apparent to me that Provo is at a very important intersection. Long-time residents are concerned our city is rapidly changing, both cosmetically and culturally. On the other hand, many are celebrating the new developments in transportation, urban planning and innovation. The permeating question seems to be this: can Provo continue to grow and retain its unique, family-friendly, close-knit feel?
I think we can. The solution is threefold.
First, we must be a neighborhood-first city. Neighborhoods have always been the hallmark of Provo. We are nothing without our streets full of children, parents, students, young professionals, senior citizens and everyone in between. Neighborhoods work best when they are inhabited by citizens who are inclusive to all and engaged in the work.
Second, smart urban planning is paramount. With the enormous projected growth in the next 30 years, we’ll need our city to take shape in ways that make good sense and stay true to our Provo roots. Projects, from public transportation to business developments, must be designed in a way that won’t jeopardize our future success. As we work on these projects, it also becomes necessary to have amiable interlocal government relationships, including with the county and our own city council.
Lastly, we must insist on an aggressive plan to increase economic development in our city. A strong tax base will give us the room we need to grow right and grow strong.
On a personal note, I was raised here in Provo by a single mom who worked graveyard shifts as a nurse to take care of her seven children. My mother’s load wasn’t easy, and she worked incredibly hard, but because she chose to stay here in Provo, we had a substantial amount of support. My neighborhood became a big, enveloping family to me and my siblings. Provo’s unique, welcoming attitude and service-oriented community was a boon to my mother when she needed to know her kids would be safe in this town when she couldn’t be around.
This is the Provo I want to protect and preserve. This is the Provo I love so much.
I am humbled to be Provo’s first female mayor. I know well the uphill battles many women face in our community. I’ve seen mothers showing up day after day to improve the lives of their children in our school system. I see our female student population putting an emphasis on education. I’ve watched many women in our community live courageous lives full of children, grandchildren and church and community service. Many times I have been that mother driving the carpool routes in sweats and sandals, with a half-eaten sandwich on the dashboard, trying to solve all the world’s problems at once.
My hope is that the women of our city know they have an advocate in the mayor’s office who understands their lives and shares their hopes and dreams. I may be the first female mayor, but I will certainly not be the last.
I look forward to working side-by-side with you in the next few years. We have so many reasons to be optimistic about our future!
Thank you Provo, let’s get to work.