When asked to describe his political philosophy, mayoral candidate, Steve Clark keeps it pretty basic. “I’m a conservative Republican. I stand for strong family values, traditional values. I have a great desire to help Provo.”
A little too basic. Asking a Republican candidate if he stands for traditional family values is like asking Dracula if his thirst for blood is insatiable. You already know the answer.
This kind of uninspiring politics flourish when good candidates do nothing. During our interview, Clark did not seem to want to address any of Provo’s student issues beyond a mere wave of the hand and an assurance that all is well.
Under Provo’s current student housing laws no three unrelated persons may live in the same domicile outside of Provo’s designated student ghetto, just south of BYU campus.
Clarke, commenting on this law, responded, “You can rent a home to anyone you want – that’s been in place for 50 years. We haven’t changed the laws.”
Either we are not talking about the same Provo, Utah, or we are dealing with a discrepancy of information. When asked if limiting the student population to a one-mile-by-one-mile area of town was damaging to competition in the housing market, Clark responded that Provo actually has too many properties going with rent signs in front of them. Which there may be, yet until laws are changed – or in Clark’s case, acknowledged – nothing can be done to fill these properties, a task which could be easily accomplished by a student population free to live where and with whom they see fit.
Meanwhile, Clark’s Web site reads, “There are many problems that come to our long-term resident population as a direct result of accommodating and providing the necessary services for BYU students.” These services would seem to be housing, parking and transportation needs. But Clark doesn’t elaborate exactly providing better housing for the students is going to chap the caboose of the long-term residents. He doesn’t go into how actually fulfilling the parking needs of students who call Provo home, would inconvenience the townies.
The bottom line here is that, like it or not, the students are an integral part of Provo. Without them, Provo is Payson. Any candidate interested in standing at the city’s helm has got to build a working relationship with the tens of thousands of students who live here. Dismissing the issues near and dear to a major sector of the town’s population is not becoming of a man who flaunts his experience in City Council and the House of Representatives so readily.
Having said that, there are areas that have really drawn Clark’s undivided attention. Like razing buildings in downtown Provo and building hotels and convention centers for Provo’s tourists. Of course, Clark’s family owns a mechanical contracting firm, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. I’m sure he would still be lackadaisical about student life in Provo even if his family printed textbooks.