Michelle Kaufusi becomes Provo’s first female mayor

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Mayor-elect Michelle Kaufusi was sworn in Tuesday night as Provo’s interim mayor. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Kaufusi’s Facebook)

Provo has its third mayor in a month, but this time the office-holder should stay for at least four years.

On Tuesday night, Mayor-elect Michelle Kaufusi became Interim Mayor Kaufusi, after the city council unanimously approved her. Her interim term ends Jan. 1, 2018, when she’ll officially become mayor. She is the first woman to hold the job in the city’s history.

Kaufusi, who won the seat in the election on Nov. 7, was the only person to apply for the interim mayorship. The council would normally interview applicants in a public meeting, but didn’t have any questions for her.

She spoke briefly before the vote. “These are all my people that I love and care so much about,” she said, gesturing to the crowd behind her. “I shouldn’t be nervous because I signed up for this. I worked really hard for a year-plus to get to this point. I appreciate your support and just trust and belief in me being able to fill the position.”

“I worked really hard for a year-plus to get to this point. I appreciate your support and just trust and belief in me being able to fill the position.” — Michelle Kaufusi, Provo mayor-elect

Councilman George Stewart made the motion to appoint Kaufusi as interim mayor. He publicly supported a write-in candidate, Odell Miner, over Kaufusi and her opponent Sherrie Hall Everett.

“I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job and we’re all behind her,” Stewart said after making the motion.

Councilman Dave Sewell has been serving as the acting mayor since Nov. 13, when John Curtis resigned to take his seat in Congress. Sewell said that when he took over as acting mayor, Curtis told him “the mantle is yours, take good care of it.” He said the mantle belongs to Kaufusi now, and he knows she’ll take good care of it.

Councilwoman Kim Santiago, whose term is over this year, said she’s looking forward to working with Kaufusi as a councilwoman and then citizen. “I’d like to congratulate Mayor Kaufusi on a really well-run campaign and hard work. … She’s done a great job so far in campaigning and I want to congratulate her and welcome her aboard.”

After the vote, city recorder Janene Weiss swore Kaufusi in. She then took her seat on the dais for the rest of the council meeting. She’ll have a formal inauguration in January.

Kaufusi served on the Provo City School Board for six years, and resigned last month. The Provo School Board is interviewing applicants in a public meeting on Thursday to fill the remaining 13 months of her school board term. The meeting starts at 1 p.m. at the school district offices, 280 W. 940 North in Provo. Paul Warner, Chad Pritchard and Melanie Hall have applied for the seat. The board will make a decision in a meeting that starts at 4 p.m., and the new member will start work on Dec. 12.

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Amie Rose has more than 14 years of experience writing and editing at newspapers in Utah and New Mexico. She graduated from BYU with a degree in journalism. She lives in Utah Valley with her husband, toddler and crazy dog.

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