When Utah’s newest congressman is sworn in Monday to fill the seat left vacant for more than four months, he’ll leave a new hole to fill — this time in Provo.
Mayor John Curtis’s post will become vacant the moment he takes the oath of office in Washington, D.C., and soon thereafter casts his first vote in Congress.
Fortunately, Provo City ordinances allow for a way to fill such vacancies — without much of the confusion that surrounded the 3rd Congressional District special election to replace former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who stepped down unexpectedly from office in June and joined Fox News as a contributor.
Council Chairman Dave Sewell will take over as acting mayor of Utah’s third-largest city until Dec. 5, when the council will appoint an interim mayor.
Sewell said in a news release that he has three goals for his 23 days in office: to keep the city moving “in the same direction at full speed,” learn more about the administrative side of the government for his future council service and to ensure a smooth transition for the mayor-elect.
In that spirit, the city said in a statement that the council feels “the most appropriate course of action will likely be to appoint the mayor-elect to serve as interim mayor until the end of the year.”
If unofficial vote totals hold through the Nov. 21 canvass, that mayor-elect will be Michelle Kaufusi.
Kaufusi captured 40.5 percent of the vote to Sherrie Hall Everett’s 33.9 percent, according to unofficial election results updated Thursday, and she will likely become the city’s first female mayor. Write-in candidate Odell Miner finished third with 25.5 percent.
Everett conceded to Kaufusi with a phone call and in an Instagram post Thursday.
“I love this community and the people of this community. It’s time to come together, making Provo the best it can be,” Everett said, offering her “best wishes and congratulations” to Kaufusi.
“It’s exciting and you know, for me, nothing in my life has ever been easy or normal,” Kaufusi said Friday, laughing about the likelihood of becoming Provo’s first female mayor earlier even than Jan. 1. “This is just so typical of how it should go for me. It’s perfect for me and the way my life has been, so I love it.”
She added that she’s already been working — taking meetings and trying to learn as much as possible from the outgoing mayor.
“I’m still being completely thrown into the fire,” she said. “I’m not having any training other than my Q&A [with Curtis], and I’ll just be depending on the staff and the institutional knowledge down there that’s been there working for a while to guide me and help me.”
Curtis’s transition will be speedy as well, with his swearing-in ceremony coming less than one week after he was voted into the position and two weeks before the official canvass.
It’s a tad overwhelming, he told The Tribune on Wednesday — and “a little surreal.”
In his resignation letter, sent to the council on election night, Curtis expressed appreciation for the opportunity to lead the city for two terms.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my service for the past eight years and want to thank each of you for your friendship and support,” he wrote. “I have worked alongside so many amazing employees and residents and will never forget my experience working for Provo City.”