John Curtis is probably the most typical Provo candidate — a conservative BYU graduate with a business degree who married his high-school sweetheart after serving an LDS mission. In a race against fellow G.O.P. Candidate Steve Clark, some of the more liberal-minded students might question the point of even filling out a ballot. However, Curtis might be the lesser of two Republicans. His focus is more on keeping the already safe streets of Provo at status quo and increasing business opportunities and prosperity – not on legislating morality.
In the wake of past experiences with conservatives who have wanted to read your emails, ban “degenerate art” and tell you who you should sleep with, it’s refreshing to hear Curtis say things such as, “Government cannot create morality or personal responsibility by passing laws,” and actually mean it.
One issue we spoke about at length was housing laws. Currently it is illegal for three unrelated people to live together outside of the designated area south of BYU campus. In a town dominated by a hyper-conservative Mormon ideology, it’s not hard to figure out why – legislation has been heavily influenced by a certain idea of “morality” and has worked to enforce unity under one particular conception of “right and wrong.” Those who align with this ideology don’t want a couple “living in sin” in their neighborhood, nor do they want three young dudes drinking alcohol on their porches for their children to see. Better that they should be banished to BYU housing, where limited competition in housing means a lack of rent control and that and alcohol use, tobacco use, and sex out of wedlock can result in eviction.
As a walk-the-walk conservative, John Curtis sees this as a conflict in ideology. “It’s a clash in our neighborhoods. You’re pitting neighbor against neighbor, and it’s not a healthy thing for our city. We have created a situation with some ordinances that are hard to understand and hard to enforce.”
“That ties in,” Curtis goes on, “Obviously, to the students, who are a big part of Provo. We have a high number of BYU and UVU students who would like to live in Provo. They would tell you that we’re tough on them. But they’ll survive. They’re resilient and they’re here for a short period of time. What we’re really doing is hurting Provo.” He acknowledges the fact that many students want to get their degree and get out of town as quickly as they can. “We’d like for them to settle here. We would like them to open their businesses. We’d like them to have a good experience, not go out into the world with horror stories about town.” For Curtis, the attitude that students are wild animals to be contained in a veritable pen between campus and Center street, is a hurtful one. “What is Provo without the students?”
While Curtis is committed to increasing safety and prosperity in town and decreasing personal divisiveness amongst Provo’s residents, he is not foolishly optimistic. “We’re really good at talking in Provo. Not so much execution.” Hopefully, if elected, John Curtis can get the ball rolling to make Provo a better city for everyone living there.
For more information, visit www.johncurtis.org