Provo will make history on Tuesday when voters elect their first female mayor since the city's founding 167 years ago. Sherrie Hall Everett, co-vice chair of the Utah Transit Authority, will face Michelle Kaufusi, a Provo School Board member, in the race to replace John Curtis, who's running for Congress.
We talked to both candidates before the election for their take on Provo's growth, its challenges and why more women should get involved in local politics.
Below are excerpts of those conversations.
Sherrie Hall Everett
EVERETT: We love the charm of Provo, and we’re going to have growth. So how we keep that charm and still take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves and grow are our biggest issues for the future of the city.
...I’ve been preparing for that as a volunteer and a servant to the community for 16 years. We need experience in transportation, experience in redevelopment and experience in housing to face the housing crisis that’s there.
Things like budgets are important; things like helping to manage appropriate growth is important; and you know we’re going to have some significant pressures on that. I believe that I’m the only one in this race who can really hit the ground running... and be effective immediately on day one and be particularly ready for the exact challenges that Provo has.
EVERETT: ...There are a lot of women that have talked to me during this campaign about their interest about getting involved in politics. I've had so many come up to me on the campaign trail and say, 'I’m thinking about running for council.' And I want to say, 'Yes, do it. Get prepared, elections are in two years. And let me know how I can help and mentor and encourage you.'
I’ve always believed that women bring great things to the conversation and also a great perspective to finding the right kinds of solutions. And I’m really excited that Provo is ready to elect a woman mayor. And I think I’m just that woman.
KAUFUSI: I’ve actually been involved in politics, I would call it local government, for about 17 years. ...I have a really deep passion for the underdog and for...the people that are in what we refer to as the grey area.
As a youth growing up in Provo, I was born and raised in Provo, that's where I lived with a single mom and seven siblings. So I always had a desire to support and do everything I can so that our children and people get opportunities and are treated equally across the board.
KAUFUSI: Every single mayor in Provo has been male Caucasian.... The fact that, number one, I was the first female [to file to run for mayor], that was exciting but alarming because, number two, no one had even tried. It was a little bit of a shock to me that not a single female has ever even tried.
It’s kind of like shattering the glass ceiling that Provo’s had.
We need woman in politics because there’s a lot of good that comes out of it, a lot of balance. Women kind of steer clear of that in Provo because you have to be very vulnerable, you have to put yourself out there, and you have to be beat up and be able to handle it.
I am a collaborator; I am a bridge builder; I am a listener. I’m that kind of a candidate.
I feel like I’m ready to go and together, with me as a leader, me as the mayor, we’ll stay "Provo Strong" and build on the momentum.
This post has been modified to clarify a quote by Michelle Kaufusi. She was the first woman candidate to file paperwork to run for mayor in this race.