College students and campaign posters filled Sodalicious on Sept. 19 as Provo Mayor John Curtis discussed voter concerns at the first of many meet and greets on his RV Tour.
Curtis won the Republican Party nomination for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District seat on Aug. 15 to fill the vacancy left by former Congressman Jason Chaffetz.
The Utah 3rd District is a highly diverse area, covering Salt Lake City and Provo. If Curtis wins the congressional seat in November’s election, he said he hopes to highlight each of these areas during his time in congress by meeting each of their unique needs.
Curtis said this district-wide RV tour is a means to connect with each of the areas in the district.
“There’s not a single group or demographic that I don’t admire, respect and want to serve. And I feel like my background uniquely qualifies me for all of them,” Curtis said.
While at Sodalicious, Curtis met with local college students to further understand their unique perspective and encourage their involvement.
Elizabeth Young, a junior in the American Studies program at BYU and state delegate, said she recalls that Curtis stood out to her during the vetting process because of his moderate stance and experience as mayor.
“I really look back on his record as Provo mayor and I just know that he has a good record of being able to reach across the aisle and bring lasting change. … I feel like John Curtis will be one of the few candidates from Utah that actually cares more about getting stuff done than being politically correct,” Young said.
One key point of Curtis’ congressional campaign is the idea of bringing Utah values like budgeting, organization and involvement to Washington D.C.
“Overall, government management here is such a model for the rest of the country and I’m hoping, particularly my experience as mayor, will be helpful back there in saying it can be done,” Curtis said.
Jacob Johnson from Elkridge, Utah, attended the meet and greet hoping to learn more about the candidate who defeated Chris Herrod in the primary election. Johnson originally supported Herrod, but felt it was important to talk with Curtis since he won the Republican nomination.
“Now that he is the official Republican nominee, I wanted to come to learn more about him and hopefully decide that, yes, I like him enough and while he’s not my first choice in candidate, I will happily vote for him come the general election,” Johnson said.
Many in attendance at Sodalicious had experiences working with Curtis first hand. BYU sophomore Hadley Gordon interned at Provo City Council and said working with Mayor Curtis was an extremely enjoyable experience.
Gordon also said Curtis’ involvement in the college community was a key component in her decision to support Curtis.
“I love his passion for reaching out to college-age kids. I love that he does things like this. He shows up at Sodalicious and offers us free cookies. And I love that he has supported the rooftop concerts and he gets on board with all the cool things to do in Provo,” Gordon said.
Mayor Curtis said involvement and voter connection is a major focus of his and he hopes to be a true advocate for college voters.
“I’d like them to feel like I’m their congressman and I represent them and that I’m accessible. And I hope they’ll feel like they’re part of what I do,” Curtis said.
As a large part of the district, Curtis says college students have the potential to be a powerful voter demographic.
“Pay attention and get engaged with the issues. They’re a powerful group that sometimes doesn’t take advantage because they don’t get involved. I’m hoping to engage them and make them feel empowered, and that government really does represent them,” Curtis said.