John Curtis – Mayor Provo, Utah – Third Congressional District Candidate
Clark H. Caras – “Mayor Curtis. What college experiences did you have that helped make you the person you are today?
John Curtis – “Well, after a bit of time at the University of Utah we transferred to BYU. No doubt whatsoever, the college experience that helped contribute to who I am today has to be the Study Abroad in 1979 to Israel and Jerusalem.”
Clark H. Caras – “What a fantastic experience to have had, especially at the time in history you were there. What are the stand out moments while you were there that you believe are a part of your character as to who you are today?”
John Curtis — “In those days the program was for six months, where today I think its a few weeks. The beautiful center on the Mount of Olives wasn’t there. So we lived right in the city. You were right there with both Arab and Jew, as well as the Palestinians.”
Clark H. Caras – “Talk about seeing divisiveness in politics. You had a bit of baptism by fire.”
John Curtis – “My time there. Wouldn’t trade it. Yes, you could say the six months in Israel has helped me to see things from a lot of different perspectives. And personally, the time there put experiences before me. Like being able to open my LDS mission call in the Garden Tomb.”
Clark H. Caras – “Where were you called to serve your faith Mayor Curtis?”
John Curtis – “I was called to serve in Taiwan.”
Clark H. Caras – “Taiwan. That’s about as far from Jerusalem as you can get.”
John Curtis – “I did have one real adventure in Israel I think that I’d have to say helped give me a bit of an adventurous soul. At the end of the six month semester in Israel; they divided us into small groups, gave us each $200 and four weeks and said, ‘See you in London.’ Absolutely no way could they do that today.”
Clark H. Caras – “Suppose you had some good lessons in budgeting there?”
John Curtis – GIVES A CHUCKLE…”I’ll say. Never forget the night we just slept on the green at Stratford on Avon because we didn’t have enough money to do, both a performance plus lodging.”
Clark H. Caras – “All of that adventure leads me to ask you…what is the book – or is there even a book there – would we find on your nightstand?”
John Curtis – “You’d find two actually. The first is “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demik. (This award winning book and author, Demick; follows the lives of six ordinary North Korean citizens.)
“The other book was a recommendation to me from my brother-in-law. He said if I was going to be making laws in Congress I needed to know what law is. It’s called, “The Law” and written in 1850 by Frederic Bastiat.” (In the book, Bastiat says “each of us has a natural right – from God – to defend his person, his liberty, and his property.”)
Clark H. Caras – “Speaking of books. What is your favorite book?”
John Curtis – “The Count of Monte Cristo.”
Clark H. Caras – “When did you first become active in politics?”
John Curtis – “Well, so now you’ve asked the question where I have to admit to having a bit of a tainted past. I grew up in the GOP. Twenty-years ago Sue and I moved back to Utah and settled in Provo to raise our six children.
When I looked around, what I saw was a strong unopposed Republican Party. And I didn’t believe anyone should be unopposed. Just walk right into an office, almost no questions asked. So, I registered as a Democrat and ran against Curt Bramble.
My values and belief in how to govern was not at all the same platform as the national Democrats, but people couldn’t separate me from that. And Curt kicked my behind.”
Clark H. Caras – “Do you have a political hero, or leader, whom you place great value in what they’ve achieved?”
John Curtis – “Well, my real political awareness came during the Reagan era. It was his views that became mine. Limited government and strong personal responsibility. But my favorite quote comes from one of my favorite politicians. Harry Truman said, ‘America has become great because we, as a people, have been able to work together for great objectives even while differing about details… The elements of our strength are many. They include our democratic government, our economic system, our great natural resources. But, the basic source of our strength is spiritual.’”
Clark H. Caras – “So here you are running as a Republican for Congress. How’d that happen?”
John Curtis – “Like I said, I was raised in the GOP. And a few years ago when Jeff Alexander stepped out of his role as a state legislator, my family came to me and encouraged me to get involved and to run. I put my name in and told my story of running as a Democrat earlier and why I had done it.
“People seemed to understand and appreciate what I said and I actually secured the most delegates at the convention. But ultimately the replacement for Jeff was chosen from a group of names, mine was one; but the state party leadership chose someone else. Then the opportunity of running for mayor of Provo presented itself – a race with no party affiliation. And here we are again.”
Clark H. Caras – “So I have to ask. Is the mayor’s wife ready to be the candidate’s wife again?”
John Curtis – “There is no way I would be doing this without Sue and my family’s support; in fact, they encouraged me to do it.”
Clark H. Caras – “Mayor. Besides the duties of the office, what do you spend time doing in the community that doesn’t come with the job, but are things you spend time volunteering for or supporting?”
John Curtis – I’ve been very active in the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce and serve on the board there. Work closely with the Red Cross, Utah National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts and the Utah Valley Healthcare Foundation.”
By Hillary Koellner and Clark Caras