What you should know about Provo’s mayoral election

Christine Armbruster
Provo Mayor John Curtis sits in his office. Curtis announced he won’t seek re-election in 2017, leaving the position open to new candidates. (Christine Armbruster)

Provo Mayor John Curtis announced May 25 he’s running for the the 3rd Congressional District seat left by former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, leaving the Provo mayor position open starting in 2017.

Since there are so many students in Provo, they have an opportunity to make a difference in the city, according to BYU political science professor Christopher Karpowitz,

“Right now student voices are basically absent from the city of Provo,” Karpowitz said. “This is very unfortunate.”

Corey Norman, Provo’s deputy mayor and public information officer, said BYU students should really care about the Provo mayoral election. He said the Provo community’s voter turnout was only 7 percent for the last municipal council race election.

With an upcoming mayoral election in Provo, residents have the opportunity to vote.

What does the mayor do for Provo?
The mayor of Provo has several responsibilities as the executive branch of the local government, including:

  • Enforcing all laws applicable to those residing or conducting business in Provo
  • Executing policies adopted by the Municipal Council
  • Preparing and submitting the proposed annual budget
  • Hiring executive employees and administrative department heads

Karpowitz said there are two major reasons why BYU students should care about the mayoral election.

“One reason is that decisions made in Provo directly affect a student’s life — things like where they can live, where they can park, what community resources are available to them,” Karpowitz said. “The second reason they should care is because students could turn the election in whatever election they wanted if they turned out to vote.”

When is the election?
The Municipal Primary Election will be held on August 15, 2017. The Municipal General Election will take place on November 7, 2017.  The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Who can vote for Provo mayor?
Provo residents or students can vote in Provo mayoral elections if they are registered to vote in Utah, according to Provo City Recorder Janene Weiss. Those who are at least 18 years old; have lived in Provo for at least 30 days as a resident, defined as someone who plans to reside in Utah indefinitely; and are a United States citizen qualify for voting registration, according to My Time to Vote.

Residents can register to vote in Utah online, by mail, or in person at the Utah County Election Office on 100 E. Center Street. Online registrants must register to vote at least seven days before the election. Mail-in ballots must be received at least 30 days before an election.

In order to cast a vote in person on Election Day, Utah voters must present a valid voter ID.

How long is a mayor’s term?
A municipal mayor’s term is four years long. Past Provo mayors were in office an average of four years, with the majority of mayors serving for less than five years. Abraham Owen Smoot’s time as mayor of Provo was the longest at 12 years from 1868 to 1881, according to the Provo Library.

Curtis has served as mayor of Provo for two terms.

Natalie Bothwell
Provo Mayor John Curtis told BYU students and faculty the second most important kind of engagement is being involved in the community. (Natalie Saunders)

Curtis said he is hopeful the new mayor will help contribute to something greater, no matter who wins the election.

“I hope they will continue to build momentum,” Curtis said. “I believe it would be a mistake for them to try and be like me. They should bring their own brand of good and exciting things without trying to undo the good and exciting things we’ve been able to do over the last few years.”

Norman said Provo residents should know the Provo mayor runs an extremely large operation.

Residents need to know whomever they choose will essentially be the CEO of a $200 million operation with very diverse interests,” Norman said. “It’s a ‘company’ that provides power, builds roads, reserves parks, plans communities, issues citations, cleans water, picks up trash, balances a budget, puts out political fires, organizes sports events and even removes cats from trees.”

Curtis said his expectations of the next mayor are very high. He said he hopes the new mayor will continue to move the vision of Provo forward.

When Curtis came into office eight years ago, he and his team created “Vision 2030.” Curtis said Vision 2030 was a plan to increase Provo’s visibility around the country and around the world as a great place to live.

“We’ve all been quite pleased with how many items have been accomplished when we took a 20-year outlook,” Mayor Curtis stated. “So now we’re creating Vision 2050 because we feel like so much of 2030 has already been accomplished.”

Norman explained the vision of mayor will directly affect the lives of college-aged students, who matter in who gets elected.

“The quality of life and their time in Provo has a lot to do with the mayor and his or her willingness to tackle important issues,” Norman said.

For more information about politics and elections in Provo, visit provo.org.

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