Happy Inauguration Day! 🎉
Updated: Jan 13
Yesterday, on Utah's 126th birthday, I took the oath of office to serve as Provo's Mayor for a second term. Thank you to everyone who made this day so special. Serving the city that I love has been the deepest honor of my life and I am proud of our Provo City team. I have so many people to thank, too many to list them all. You know who you are, and I'm grateful for each one of you. But I want to make a special mention of a few of you.
First, I want to publicly thank the guidance counselor at Provo High School, who helped me realize that this awkward teenager could get an academic scholarship to BYU and, therefore, attend college with hard work and vision. I don't remember your name, but so much of my life has hinged on the plans you helped me formulate.
To my three sisters, Gina, Lisa, and Cathy: in often unseen ways, each of you has been instrumental in my ability to make it through life and now serve as Mayor. We all miss mom, but it's been touching to have you step into her shoes by helping and supporting the baby girl of the family in ways I know Mom is proud of. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Most of all, I want to thank my dear husband, Steve. Without a kind, calming, patient, hardworking, and fiercely protective husband, I could not do what I do. I don't speak much of your native language, but I know one of the most important phrases, "I love you," and I say it to you with all my heart: Ofa atu.
And for my remarks, I've chosen to speak directly to our two new city councilors, Rachel Whipple and Katrice MacKay.
First, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations on your elections. Politics is a challenging world you've entered. Around the country, many local officials have been stepping down from office due to the toxic nature of communications about politics. So, some might question your sanity. But I do not. I am deeply grateful for any decent person willing to face the pain that sometimes attends the world of public service these days. You are both good people who are also talented and accomplished. Thank you for bringing your talents to public service.
My first elected public office was about eleven years ago. Here are just a few tips from a little further down the road.
First, never lose sight of the fact that the citizens have trusted you with an EXTRAORDINARY gift: the gift to help shape the future of our city. Value it. Be humble about it. Recognize that this moment of opportunity is fleeting. Be grateful for the residents of Provo, not just for giving you this rare opportunity but also for being the ones who make Provo great. As I walk into my office at city hall, I remind myself this is not my seat. It belongs to the residents of Provo.
Finally, recognize that you have entered a team sport. Serving as a city council member makes you part of a team. That team is huge and includes Provo residents, Provo City employees, and many others. But for my purposes today, that team consists of you, your fellow city councilors, and me. Together, we make up the 8 elected officials chosen by Provo residents to serve as city council members and Mayor to help lift and strengthen Provo for the benefit of those residents. In an authentic sense, we are the home team for them, and they are hoping we'll make them proud.
Each of us should bring our independent thinking to the table—and you will never be required to agree with my ideas or those of your fellow councilors. But at the same time, I submit that we can elevate Provo and ourselves if, even when we disagree, we view each other as teammates.
Let me give an example of the kind of situation I have in mind. Imagine you learn that one of the 8 of us has said or done something that you think is ridiculous and outrageous. If you view politics as merely an individual sport, you might immediately call a reporter and tell them how crazy SO AND SO's proposal is. Or you could post the same thing on social media.
If you view yourself as part of a team, you may be more inclined to reach out to that teammate first and hear for yourself what they said and why. And even after that, you may be careful not to bruise them unnecessarily, knowing you will need to work with that person tomorrow on other important tasks.
In my experience, that latter approach is (1) appreciated by the other person and (2), in the long run, better for you, the team, and the residents of Provo.
So again, in a nutshell, we can build Provo and each other more effectively if we view each other as part of one team.
Katrice and Rachel, welcome to the team!