Newly inaugurated Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi made history Tuesday when she was sworn in at City Hall as the city’s first female mayor.
“Our city was ready for a woman mayor,” Kaufusi told The Salt Lake Tribune in a December interview. “It needed a mayor that could come in and be a bridge builder with the city council and have those working relationships, and it also needed a fresh start, a fresh set of eyes.”
The longtime Provo resident was among a number of new mayors sworn in Tuesday and Wednesday.
In Salt Lake County these included Sandy Mayor Kurt Bradburn, a state attorney who defeated longtime incumbent Tom Dolan; Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, a former councilman who defeated Mayor Bill Applegarth; West Jordan Mayor Jim Riding, who defeated Mayor Kim Rolfe; Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Steadman Overson, who defeated Mayor Larry Johnson; South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey; Midvale Mayor Robert Hale, who won the seat after the retirement of 20-year Mayor JoAnn Seghini; Mayor David Watts in Herriman; Mayor Mike Peterson in Cottonwood Heights; Murray Mayor Blair Camp; and Mayor Harris Sondak in Alta.
In Provo, Kaufusi has served as interim mayor of the state’s third-largest city since the beginning of December — filling the hole left by former two-term Mayor John Curtis, who was sworn in as Utah’s newest congressman in mid-November. Councilman Dave Sewell served as Provo’s acting mayor until Dec. 5.
“The good thing about being the interim mayor is I feel like I’ve had a great head start and been able to navigate through a lot of rough waters, and I feel really positive and upbeat that we’re headed in the right direction and I have my feet on the ground and I know where we’re going,” Kaufusi said Tuesday. “The learning curve has already happened.”
Kaufusi has a degree in geography from Brigham Young University with an emphasis in global studies and local government and served for six years on the Provo School Board, part of that time as president.
“I just feel so relieved that the glass ceiling has been shattered,” she told The Tribune. “Not only for myself but for all the future generations because now they see that it’s something that is tangible and that they can accomplish if they put their hearts to it. It’s not the unknown never-been-done anymore.”
Provo will have a public swearing in ceremony at 1 p.m. on Jan. 18 at the city library, followed by a formal ball there in the evening to celebrate Kaufusi’s historic inauguration.
Clarification: This story has been altered from the origional version to reflect that some of the new mayors were sworn in Wednesday.