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Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me. Did your mother teach you this also? Did you grow up believing in this motto like it was an all-powerful shield against bullies and trolls? All my life I walked around with at least some sense of confidence that words couldn’t hurt me.

 I’m rubber, you’re glue

Whatever you say

bounces off me

and sticks to you.

For the seven years I’ve been mayor I have certainly had my fair share of complaints. I’ve read some heated emails. I’ve been called a plethora of names (believe me, I understand that comes with the job) but for most of the time I have been blessed to be the recipient of kindness and goodwill. Even in the face of strong disagreement we have come together with civility to work out our differences.

But recently I have noticed that the tide seems to be turning in public dialogue.  Like a sewer leak deep beneath the surface, I feel a coarseness invading so many aspects of our lives. Even in our safe haven of Provo – a place known around the world for its kindness and concern of others.

For example, recently I received an email message from a citizen that ended with this line: “please … let [this] be the issue that sinks the mayor and his … awful arrogant deputy. Oh please oh please let them both be stripped of their clothing and carried out of the building …”

Similar to this email, in the last month I’ve heard accusations and disparaging comments of a very different nature than previous public dialogue.  Engagement on all platforms—from social media to civic meetings are more sarcastic, biting, impatient, rude, aggressive and often all too personal. In the years of being mayor, I can strongly say this surge of negativity is not normal for our community.

So what’s going on?

I believe a majority of this comes from top down. Much of it has to do with the trickle-down effect of the conversation happening on the national stage. As we listen to those who have platforms as presidential candidates, we hear them use words that tend to be more cutting, more personal, more filled with spite.

The disparaging remarks in our own community are echoes of what we hear every single time we turn on the news, read the paper, or scroll through our Twitter timelines. It’s almost always there when we engage in a presidential discussion. Name-calling, bigotry, hate, attacks. The leaders on our national stage insist on using more and more syllables to pollute the air with words that incite, provoke and demean.

Not only do we need to worry about Supreme Court nominations, the economy and war, we now need to worry about the impact of negativity. From what I’m seeing in the community it’s as if the two candidates from the major political parties have issued us all a license to be rude without the thought of consequence.

I’m personally calling on our national leaders to understand how their contaminated actions and words seep into our local constituencies and how much we suffer because of it. I’m calling for a more civil discussion on issues like health care, immigration, national security, and jobs. We need them to take responsibility for changing the public discourse not only nationally but everywhere—in our states, cities, and homes.

I also call upon my fellow local elected leaders and residents to be that voice of civility. As a county, state, and community, we need more unity and less divide.

If we can’t expect decency from the top – let’s start it from the bottom.

Despite what our well-intentioned mothers taught us, words do hurt. They hurt all of us. Although I’ve experienced years of decent discourse I worry those days are over. We have a lot to lose in this election, let’s not lose our hearts as well.

John Curtis – Provo City Mayor

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  1. Dave

    That’s too bad people feel that what comes across as a hate-filled comment is actually going to do anything. They should be flogged. Haha. Just kidding.

    It’s great that we have the right to say what we want (in most cases) but it is unfortunate that some choose emotional outbursts as their method of trying to influence others.

    Do they just want to vent or are they really trying to cause change? If it’s the latter, which I think it usually is, they should realize that ranty, emotional comments rarely change anyone’s mind. In fact, it usually does just the opposite and increases the resolve of those with opposing views.

    If you really want to change my mind, convince me logically of your point of view. There’s too much hate out there (largely on social media) and it contributes nothing towards a solution.

    And for what it’s worth, I think the mayor has done a good job. No one is perfect, and our elected officials can’t please everyone all of the time. They should be doing what the majority of us want and I think he’s done that.

    1. John

      Thanks for your kind words Dave.

  2. Mayor Curtis, you are a good man, and I support you for a third term.

    1. John

      Third term? Sounds like something we should discuss over a good meal.

      1. Chad Pritchard

        Name the time and place!

      2. Laura Bailey

        Ooo! I want to be there!

    2. Hamlet Gordillo

      May Curtis. Thank you for letting your critics know your thoughts. Just know that the majority (a very large majority) of Provo is with you. You could call it the “silent majority” perhaps 😉

      You have done so many great things for Provo that I am very, very proud to call Provo my home and have turned from wanting to go out of this city to pursue my aspirations to helping to make it happen here. To make Provo grow beautifully. You and your teams work has done that.

      Not to be cliche but, “hater’s gonna hate.” The more popular and good things you do you will find jerks that will be very vocal. We are with you Mayor Curtis!

  3. Tami

    Very nicely said. Thank you.

  4. Troy Carter

    AMEN to all you said. Kindness is always its own reward. I’ve noticed this same insidious canker creeping into all aspects of our lives, even among our youth, who at times, can be inclined towards such behavior anyway. Let not our hearts be the ones that wax cold towards our fellow men. Thanks for your leadership. So proud to call a good man our mayor.

  5. Scott Norton

    I’ll agree that the national rhetoric is a contributing factor. I also suggest that the BRT is a big factor. I suggest many people who care about BRT are offended that it was rammed through.

    The legacy of destroying the Parkway to Orem and the trees on University will live on. The ridership is projected at 14,000 a day. Mayor, you better hope that the ridership is high enough to justify what many consider underhanded management of the approval process.

    Mayor Curtis, I have known every mayor since Ferguson and I consider you the best of all these mayors. It’s sad to think that the BRT is your legacy. I don’t understand why you forced it through. For myself, I’m willing to wait to see how things play out. I will vote for the referendum and then see how this ridership thing plays out. If the ridership is as poor as many suspect, I will support an investigation of where the money was spent and who got wealthy.

    1. John

      Scott, How about in the spirit of my letter we meet and discuss your concerns?

      1. C. VanLeuven

        I believe that there are many citizens in Provo who feel this way. (They might want to hear your comments if you discuss these concerns.) The comments are valid. I suspect that people’s rhetoric might reflect their helplessness they are experiencing as voted representatives ignore their requests or their feelings on various issues!

    2. Derek L.


      Well said! I have never been more discussed in my city than when they decided to push that bill through even with as many signatures as I saw on the petition. It was the first thing I’ve ever petitioned against. I followed it very closely, and essentially the people against it, (which is a good portion of our community) were just ignored. I said from day one, that it was futile. The politicians are going to do what they want, and the citizens are going to allow it because they have beaten us into submission, so we just let them do what they want. Guess what? I was proven right again.

      Not only is it NOT the answer to the commuting problem, but it’s cutting down the trees that make driving in Provo such a pleasant drive. Also, we are third, (last I checked) in the nation for bad air -quality in the nation, and in the top fifty around the world. So what do we do? cut down ruffly one hundred trees without any intention of replanting them. As an asthmatic, that’s a huge problem. I’m probably going to have to move because of the air, it’s getting worse by the day, and I love this community.

      Besides the trees, it’s going to cause so many more problems then it will potentially fix. Provo/Orem’s appeal, is that we are a big small town. By bringing in things like this, you are allowing that image to start to fade.

      Thanks for the time you took to read my comment, as for your letter it was well written, and besides this, I do think you do a good job. You’ve managed to revitalize downtown and that is something that I never thought would be done.

      – Derek

  6. bECKY

    I didn’t vote for you, but I think you have done a great job.
    Don’t let anything said drag down your Positive spirit!

  7. Matthew Taylor

    The truth.

  8. I’m reminded of legislation sponsored by John Valentine, calling for more Civility in our public discourse. Those who disagree with us will still be our neighbors in 2017. Proud to call this veteran “friend”.

    Enrolled Copy
    S.C.R. 2



    Chief Sponsor: John L. Valentine

    House Sponsor: Kevin S. Garn


    Allen M. Christensen

    Gene Davis
    Jon J. Greiner
    David P. Hinkins
    Scott D. McCoy
    Ralph Okerlund


    General Description:

    This concurrent resolution of the Legislature and the Governor urges the people of

    Utah to return to fundamental principles that will lead to greater civility and r
    respectful public discourse.

    Highlighted Provisions:
    This resolution:
    urges the people of Utah to return to fundamental principles that will lead to greater
    civility and a new spirit of community; and
    invites all Utahns to join the Legislature and the Governor in affirming established ground rules for respectful public discourse and behavior. Read the resolution at

  9. Melanie McCoard

    “So what’s going on?” It would be complete self-delusion to assume that people’s anger at you and your staff has no foundation.

    1. John

      Melanie, You’re very predictable.

      1. Maria

        If I understand the letter correctly, the mayor began the letter by reflecting on comments that he’s received over the years beginning with generally good positive feedback that with a few -ones thrown in but that segued slowly into more negative cutting snarky sarcastic degrading comments that he hadn’t seen here to four. And as he reflected on that he noticed that it was also happening in larger areas and state politics and national politics and he one wandered in his letter if it was trickling down from the top. His call to arms if you will, appealed to all residents of Provo for us to do better to treat each other with more civility kindness consideration to try not to lose ourselves in this age when it is so easy to be mean; especially when we can hide behind the faceless social media forms and pseudonyms. I did not read the mayors are article and come away with you impression that he was speaking only about himself. Instead I felt that he was imploring all of us every single one of us to try to do better to try to be more positive to speak for civilly to have more integrity as we speak to each other, to our elected Fishel’s, to our neighbors, to our families, and yes even those we don’t know. I did not pick up in his letter that he was solely asking for commentators to be nice just to him.

    2. Ron Cottle

      Indignity, may die of indignation, it left unspoken?


  10. Kameron Barkle


  11. Dxon

    Here, here. One does not need to be disagreeable, just because you disagree. I call it a coarsening of the public discourse. It seems that our national leaders have made it ok be rude and uncivil. The higher road is almost always best.

  12. Mark Peterson

    Right on, Mr. Mayor. Thanks for speaking up. I for one love and support you — especially with your open letter.

  13. Kevin Auernig

    I’ll ride the bus with you any day Mayor.

    1. John

      The BRT bus?

  14. K Mcleod

    You have courage to speak the truth. This is a quality generally lacking in politicians. Provo is so fortunate to have you and I hope they take your words seriously.

    P.S. No one really wants to see you and your deputy running naked from your office..

  15. Suzy

    I have lived in Provo for many years. Over the last 10 years there has been significant focus on cleaning up and building up our city. Many areas of Provo were run down, dangerous eyesores. Buildings stood neglected and empty for years on wasted land. All of the new improvements and construction has turned Provo into a beautiful, clean and exciting City. Our Mayor and his directors deserve nothing less than our gratitude and praise for the incredible, tough job they do every day for a better Provo!

    1. John

      Suzy – Thank you for your kind words. Our directors are amazing.


  16. Mary Wade

    I think this would be a good time to let you know that I recently read through a copy of the Provo 2030 Vision that included all the original objectives each of the 13 subcommittees set back in 2010. Having lived in Provo for the last 10 years, I am absolutely floored at just how many of these goals have already been accomplished–if I had seen that list 6 years ago, I would not have believed all that could be possible in just 6 years. It has been a great privilege not only to have witnessed this growth (which has directly impacted my quality of living), but to have seen the courage of our civil servants who have dared to dig deep and dream big, where others might shrink from such grand ambitions. Thank you, Mayor, for all your efforts over the years!

    1. Karen Spencer

      Ditto, and our family is so, so happy to be back here in Provo. We are daily amazed at the good going on in his city.

    2. John

      Mary, Thanks for your comments. I too have been amazed at how much of Vision 2030 that has been accomplished. It’s a great example of what can happen if we put our goals and ambitions on paper. We’re working on Vision 2050 right now.

  17. Kahi Winget

    I am thankful to live in a town that is led by people who at their core believe in respect as a fundamental principle. Like someone or not, agree with their choices or not, the minute you objectify them (treating them like an object that is in your way instead of a human being) you have chosen the wrong way. I believe that goes both ways and I aplaud you Mayor Curtis for encouraging that kind of discourse here in Provo. Thank you for your inspiring letter!

    1. Melanie McCoard

      There are several ways to objectify people. One of them, as you mention, is to see them as obstacles to work around or move out of your way. Another is to view them as tools or furniture to use to accomplish what you want. And treating human beings as an audience for your own image-management campaign, or as test subjects to practice your sales skills on, is objectifying. Assuming that you can win anyone over to your way of thinking is not respectful, its manipulative. Reflecting back to people only what they want to hear, and later denying that you did so, is not encouragement. And punishing people, or condoning when others punish, those who publicly disagree with you, is the also the wrong way. I am not inspired by John’s letter.

      1. lynne

        so what is your point Melanie? some real issues please, and not just words with hate. You bring nothing with substance up, It just seems like you like to stir the pot and cause issues

  18. Pat

    I. wholeheartedly support everything you addressed. I am grateful for a mayor that is so connected with his city that he takes the time to pen such an OPEN LETTER as this. Thank you Mayor Curtis!!!!!! PROVO…….please learn and listen.

  19. Angela Eckstein

    Thank you for your insights and call for more civility in our dialogue. I agree on so many levels. Thank you as well for all that you are doing for our city. Provo is a great place to live and work and raise a family, and you are making better.

  20. Matt

    Dear Mayor Curtis,

    While my wife and I no longer live in wonderful Provo, Utah (we actually don’t live in Utah anymore at all), I continue to follow your comments and watch as the city I love continues to grow and become more beautiful. I appreciate your open and candid letter. If only more politicians would do the same. In a sense, I think you hit the nail on the head. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. Next stop… governor??

  21. Jacqueline

    Point well taken but let’s call it what it is: Donald Trump has turned the national political stage into a sewer with his negativity and vile, low class rhetoric. Let’s not pretend that Hillary is his equal in this no matter how much she is disliked and opposed. A false equivalency don’t help the case for civility–which we

    1. Lynn Sorenson

      Jacqueline is certainly correct; the greatest offender and influencer–BY FAR–is Donald Trump. If you/we don’t like how much influence he’s had on INcivility as a candidate, try to imagine what it would be were he elected president!

    2. Rex

      I’m not a great fan of Trump, but he’s a symptom, not the beginning of this problem.
      People are fed up from being treated like trash by the Left for so long.
      Those who disagree with bad socialist policies are called racist or anti gay, or any number of things by those on the left, just to shut them down from real discussion.
      It’s been somewhat subtle … and now people think; Hey! Trump is rude. Well, he is harsh, but as I said, he’s a symptom, a reaction to the put downs that have been playing out for years.

      Another problem is the fact that the Internet is so impersonal. People hide behind their keyboards and say all sorts of harsh and judgmental things.

      1. SeagullSuz

        Well said Rex. Add to that, Trump’s behavior is based on an entertainment factor of sensationalist dialogue and behavior. He has been the king of his kingdom and apparently does not have to yield to an HR, PR, Marketing or Legal department’s checklist of appropriate public decorum. People close to him say when peeling through those TV layers, he is really more down o earth…we can hope…

  22. Sherry

    Well said! Kindness and civility are more important than ever in a sometimes very negative world!

  23. Daniel Burt

    Mayor Curtis

    I support you and certainly support the content of this letter. I strongly believe that healthy opposition is a critical part of a healthy government and can be the source of great progress. But opposing views, however strong, should always be given with civility. I don’t think personal attacks have ever accomplished anything worthwhile, and they can sometimes be quite harmful.

    As part of the college-age crowd here in town, I’ll do by best to keep spreading this sentiment!

    Thanks for all you do! Really, I’ve been very impressed with your work over the last three years I’ve lived here.

  24. Julianna

    Hear, hear! It’s unfortunate that some people, particularly when using tools of communication that provide anonymity, become cruel. For what it’s worth, I have been so impressed with you as a mayor and as a person. I used to have some fairly negative feelings about Provo, but I’ve seen amazing things happen under your leadership. Now I have great things to say, particularly about downtown Provo. Hopefully you receive enough positive comments from those who recognize the great things you have done, to drown out the negativity. Keep up the good work!

  25. Don’t heed the haters! You’ve done amazing things for Provo. The whole town has a renewed sense of energy, largely because of the work you’re doing.

  26. Chuck Henson

    Well said Mr. Mayor – I concur 100 %

  27. Ephraim

    John, for what it’s worth, I think you are doing a fantastic job. I love how you are involved and aware of your community, from the large issues to more trivial things. I appreciate how you support local businesses. I’ve seen you around town occasionally and you have always been friendly and open to chat. I do feel our community by has benefited from your leadership.

    “Haters gonna hate” stay true and keep up the great work.

  28. Ryan

    The anger that you are seeing probably comes from BRT mess. Maybe even the telecom debt charge on monthly utility bills might contribute to the anger.

  29. Melanie Komenkul

    I agree. It’s vile the way Trump has turned this election into a circus and showed us the absolute worst of our society. It’s a very sad joke. But I will take this opportunity to tell you something I’ve thought many. Many times. I think you are a fabulous mayor. So many things wonderful things have changed for the better in our city since you’ve been mayor. Every year it becomes a better and more beautiful place to live. I love how keep an open dialogue with your city. I love that I see you out often. I love that my 6th graders even know who you are because you are often at events we attend. They really think your cool because they saw you Studio C on New Years Eve. I don’t think I’ve even known much who the mayor was in any any other place I’ve lived. Nor what they had to say. Or how they loved our city and showed it. I think your really great I truly do.

  30. Stephanie

    Such needed advice during this time! It can start from the bottom and work it’s way up, it happens in neighborhoods all throughout our city. Thank you, Mayor Curtis.

  31. Mike

    Many years ago I attended a town hall meeting to make a comment. The issue was heated and I even got heckled from the audience while making my comment. One member of city council was acting like he was on a cable news show. Part way through the discussion you interrupted to basically ask people to be respectful of other people’s opinions, and things improved. And for what it’s worth, virtually everyone on city council agreed on the issue.

    To this day I don’t know your political leanings on various issues or even what party you align with, but I have been very impressed with your approach to open, honest, and civil discourse. That one thing sets you apart from most other politicians I’ve encountered, and it’s the reason I speak highly of you with friends and neighbors.

    1. John

      Mike, That’s a high compliment. Thank you.

  32. Susie

    Well said, wouldn’t it be great if all of our elected or soon to be elected eaders could hold to the same standard!

    Interesting you are taking the heat for BRT when those wheels got spinning over 12 years ago long before you were even paying attention. Tell the tomatoe throwers they’re many years too late.

  33. Mary C Shaffer

    Thank you for this open letter. Let kindness begin with me. Your attitude and leadership in being respectful of others will set the standard for the city. Provo is a wonderful place to live and I appreciate the good you have done as our mayor.

  34. Sherry

    John, I love Provo and it’s people and I think you are doing an amazing job. The city is beautiful and vibrant.
    I would like to address something that happened to my family within the last two weeks. Please email me, as I would like to keep the matter private.

  35. Marci

    It would be nice if brave people like you were running for President.

  36. Brady

    Good words my man. Thank you for being temperate and respectful in your dealings with us “the people” and doing your best to represent us. It’s nice to have a representative who represents his people. Thank you for being kind, responsive and a good person when dealing with disagreements. I often see you walking up and down center street and feel good that you are out there working hard and trying your best to do what’s right for the city. Thanks for being in my bands music video. Thanks for responding to my inquires on parking isdues on your FB message. You the man!
    Yes, let’s show by example to our leaders above us how they should be acting. In this weird case, from the bottom up.

  37. Janet Tyler

    Thank you for your thoughtful words and service.

  38. Dennis J. Meisinger II

    Dear John,

    I could not have said it better. I thank you for your insight into which to set the stage for what we should look toward to voice our concerns. I am a man from Montana, but Utah is my home now. Many have have shared with me their kindness over the years. And I am grateful to God and them for it. I have always carried in my heart an appreciation of kind words.

    Kindness and love to our fellow brethren casts a stronghold of independent will, a maturity of the human soul, and a firm foundation. It always starts with us.

    Thank you for your leadership.

  39. Doyle Mortimer

    As an Orem resident, I think you’re pretty cool. No question we don’t always agree. Municipal politics is like living in a fishbowl, and the issues are very personal. And when they are personal, emotions run high!

    This call for civility isn’t asking us to stop the dialogue or even disagreement. I have truly found that when I can remain cool-headed I can find solutions that could never have even entered my mind when emotion clouded reasoning.

    Thanks, John, for taking the time to remind us. Keep up the good work.

  40. Your honor,

    I haven’t lived in Provo for 32 years, but watching from afar through a daughter at BYU and relatives that still live in the area, I see improvements for the better. Downtown is revitalized and is getting better. The roads are in better shape in Provo (not so further north), and the historic architecture has been preserved. My ancestor’s homes are still there along third south, and I love driving down that street.

    My one complaint: I hope your efforts toward more civility extend to kindness while operating a vehicle. Utah Valley drivers are legendary for their discourteous behavior. Worse than Chicago. My elderly mother has been cut off, tailgated, verbally abused and has seen more than her share of middle fingers. Is this who you really are? I don’t think so.

    Keep fighting the good fight. It’s easy to throw rocks from the sidelines; the folks throwing rocks have no solutions, just problems. Comes with the territory.

  41. Just One Mom

    National level politics has many faces.

    You addressed one element but what about the lying, corrupt, cannot trust element? I am not saying this second element is a reflection of Provo politics; what I am saying is “the peoples” inability to trust politicians fuels a great deal of angst with politicians in general.

    Whatever is fueling the hostile comments, people need to behave as civil adults. I am so tired of the ranters getting the press coverage, the microphone, the audience. Let’s promote civility, as your letter requests.

  42. Jennifer

    I LOVE living in Provo! We have 5 kids and we have more to do here than we ever have time for. The Rec Center is currently our favorite place and we go there at least 3-4 times a week. I love all the progress Provo has made and I appreciate your openness on every issue out there. Social media has been such a good way to connect with everyone. I’d vote you in for a third term. Thanks for being down to earth and real. 🙂

    1. John

      Jennifer, Thanks for positive comments.

  43. Ginger Woolley

    I appreciate your thoughtful open letter. Thank you, Mayor Curtis. Although you weren’t seeking compliments, I echo the sentiments of many – Provo City has been greatly improved by your diligent service as our mayor.

    1. John

      Gina, Thanks for your great example of service in our community.

  44. Aaron Harrison

    I disagree that this uncivil discourse begins at the top; I believe it is a symptom of unchecked, uncivil behavior at the bottom. Long silenced, then ignored, then dismissed, this thread of mean behavior in society has for the most part has been keep quiet by those who weren’t afraid to speak up in defense of better behavior and personal responsibility. The past few decades have seen an incredibly disturbing shift – no longer content with muttering in the dark, these voices have grown louder, and now demand not only their right to be heard, but, more disturbingly, the right not to be contested. Seriously, try politely reprimanding someone who uses foul language in public, and watch what happens. Is it any wonder that this crude behavior would trickle up through our society to the level of political discourse, when people on the street are afraid to speak up against it?

    Until we, as a people, reject foul, threatening language on an INDIVIDUAL level, it won’t go away. Eliminating it through government intervention is not an option – we cannot and should not limit the Freedom of Speech, but we can TEACH people to choose to do, speak, and be better. Start with YOU.

  45. Maryan Myres Shumway

    John, my BYU college sent me this letter. It is a masterpiece. I have read it three times, and each time I get goose bumps. Even a few tears. This letter should be distilled all over the world! Because I know you from earlier chapters in our lives, I feel so proud of what you have done here in Provo. You have made our Provo more beautiful, fun, connected with the world, and given more jobs. Thanks for your commitment to make the “bottom” great. It is the foundation of our society, our lives. Keep speaking and writing, with everything else you are doing. Your voice is so very needed right now!

    1. John

      Maryan, Good to hear from you and thanks for your kind comments. Hope all is well.

  46. I agree that that the dialoge from the top is a poor example, my greater fear is that the love of mankind is waxing cold. Civility is needed, and likely more effective.
    I would hope to see Mayor Curtis in another term!

    Bob G

  47. Jack Rowland

    I have been a resident of Provo for over 40 years and hove done so for a reason. I love it here.
    Finding a better place than what we have here would be very difficult if not impossible.

    However, I am finding it more difficult to survive here because of the continual property tax hikes in Utah county. I am a retired 64 year old and live on a fixed income. For me each tax hike represents more for the school districts and local government and less on my dinner table.

    Being on a fixed income with no children attending public schools I find that these tax increases are unfair for those who have raised their families and no longer have a job that make wage adjustments according to the ups and downs of the economy.

    Each increase in taxation is a cut in income for us yet our city and county government don’t core how it burdens our existence.

    We now have a new Provo City Power facility under construction which makes me wonder haw long before we realize an increase for our power?

    While I do agree that there is a huge swing in the attitudes of this nations population that I have much difficulty understanding and do not agree with, ever growing costs in big government is one area that federal and local governments create some of the changing attitude.

    1. John

      Jack, I’d love to meet with you and share some insight on property tax and where the increases are coming from. Only 20% of your property tax goes to the city and this year we discussed a modest increase but no increase was approved.

      1. Jack Rowland

        I would have no problem meeting with you. I love Provo and have raised a family here and have no plans of ever leaving. However, since I retired all I see is federal, state county and city wanting more and more in tax increases.
        If you have an open time I will be pleased to meet with you.

      2. John

        Will you let me know at the best times for you to meet?

      3. John

        Jack, Thanks for our meeting. You shared some very important insight with me.

  48. It is human nature that you can hear a hundred great comments and one bad one is the one that can fester you for hours or days. I agree with the Mayors view stated as we do need to start from the bottom, as the top is not going to start changing any time soon. This is one of the things I like most about our Mayor. He is a great thinker and one that looks to include everybody’s ideas and is always positive. For what it is worth, John Curtis is one of the reasons I have a business in Provo. I read his blog several years ago and watched what was going on in Provo and decided to move back and see for myself. Provo impressed me as did the Mayor and I am doing business in downtown Provo now. Provo Rocks. Our Mayor Rocks and because we may have differences of opinion doesn’t mean we have to be unkind or rip each other to pieces. Rock on Mayor Curtis and thanks for the perspective on “What is going on” and Why!. Peace. Russ

    1. John

      Russ for Mayor!!!

  49. Dave

    Your thoughtful and productive stewardship over my hometown has been very much appreciated. I’d be very pleased to vote for you again Mayor Stewart. Keep up the terrific work.

  50. Trilby Cope

    Well said Mayor Curtis.

    I may be old-fashioned, but I have felt for a long time that many of the problems in our society stem from forgetting the ‘Golden Rule.’ The lack of civility, graciousness, manners and kindness has hurt us all. It makes me sad.

    As I’ve told you before, our family has your back and we are cheerleaders for all you do for this great city. During your tenure thus far, so much good has been done, and Provo is all the better for your efforts as well as those who serve with you.

    Thank you.


  51. Mayor Curtis,
    Your letter is heard in our office loud and clear. Although we are debt collectors and often aren’t among the “favorite” in our community, we serve an important purpose in our economy and are proud of what we do for Utah businesses.
    However, in recent months and weeks, we too have experienced a high level of personal attacks, vulgar language and aggressive threats from consumers we are collecting from. Realizing “we/our business” is the common denominator of these attacks, we are reviewing our internal communications with consumers to see if we have changed something to cause these comments.
    Reading your letter opens ours eyes to realizing … maybe, perhaps, it’s not us.
    We will be watching for a pair of socks that simply says, “Be Nice.” Thank you for this candid letter.

    1. John

      I love the sock idea!

  52. Robert

    Here is my email to the mayor. Un-parsed. Exactly as I sent it.

    Mr Mayor,

    When is the last time you road a bus in Provo Orem as a means for legitimate transportation, not a photo op? Never I am going to go out on a limb and assume. The buses are barely 1/4 full. Why would u spend $190M on a project for even more buses, when current busses aren’t even remotely full? I mean that makes sense I suppose. When the buses you currently have are running 1/4 full, obviously we need more buses. In fact, not only do we need more buses, let’s give those buses their own dedicated lanes and jam up traffic even more. People hate buses and hate to ride on buses. They are slow and archaic. How is it that all of you fascist liberals perpetuate a storied love affair with public transportation almost exclusively centered around buses? Who cares about building or expanding/upgrading roads and freeways or maintaining the ones we have now, we’re going all in on buses.

    Makes absolute perfect sense. The people of Provo don’t want it, but you and your boot licking cronies are jamming it down our throats anyway because city council and our esteemed mayor are far more intelligent than the voting public and we should all just fall into line and trust that a handful of bureaucrats have our backs and know what they are doing. The same group of boot licking bureaucrats that jacked our property taxes and doubled our utility rates to pay for a bunch of crap that most of us don’t want or need.

    Oh by the way, my water bill was .30 cents short of equaling my power bill. Water in Provo is more expensive than freaking energy!

    Great job mayor. Thanks so much.

    Ps please god let BRT be the issue that sinks the mayor and his god awful arrogant deputy. Oh please oh please let them both be stripped of their clothing and carried out of the building nude.

  53. Nyssa

    Mayor Curtis–I no longer live in Provo, but you made it a special, exciting place to live while I was in college and starting my career. I always looked forward to seeing the strides forward the city was making, and you and your team were behind many great initiatives and activities.

    Thank you for your service. You’ve done great work.

  54. Charlie Hobbs

    Dear Mayor Curtis,
    I live In Salt Lake and, to be honest, this is the first I have heard of you. And I like what I hear (read).
    Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”
    I believe the only person we have any hope of really controlling is our own personal self. There is a tremendous amount of good occurring every day on this planet. Each and every one of us needs to remember to “Do unto others as you would have others do unto to you.” Simple answer to complex words and deeds.

  55. Mr. Flake

    Mr. Mayor,
    Ive been on the band wagon since you were first elected. You’ve done a fine job until recently with this UTA stuff. I probably wouldnt even be commenting on here if it werent for your open letter. I’d done what most of us do and figured there was nothing I could do to change the outcome of something many of us do not want. You stated, “Even in the face of strong disagreement we have come together with civility to work out our differences.” When did we come together on the UTA deal? Maybe we didnt get the memo that you and the Orem mayor somehow just know whats best for us and how our hard earned tax dollars are spent. With all the good you have done for Provo, this decision just baffles me. Ive lived in this town for 30 years and Ive never once seen any of the buses along the parkway more than half full. Ive asked everyone i work with if they have ever seen a full bus, NOPE! Maybe you can see something none of us can. I have to be honest with you, you lost me on this one.

    1. John

      Mr. Flake, I am truly sorry that you feel that we have not listened to you. Would you like to sit down with me one on one and discuss both of our points of view on BRT?

  56. Randy Gordon

    Being gay, I have heard it all! I want to point out how many of us(LGBT) have stayed here in Utah despite the fact that it can be hell! I was born and raised in Spanish Fork. Being gay has given me a gift! How blessed I was to live here! How wonderful it was to be Mormon and I was happy! Some of you should have a day or two and walk in our shoes! You will know what I mean! there have been moments when I have been devastated! Why would another Mormon say or do that to me! It still hurts! I WISH I COULD FEEL LIKE I ONCE DID! This is why we are here! We constantly have to learn. I have dished some out myself when I had enough! I need to be thankful! We all do and that is how we will all have it again! If a an excommunicated gay man can say this, it has to have some truth! Most of you don’t realize how much you have ! I am talking about good things! You live it every day and you have no idea because you have never had it taken away! We need to stop! It is simple! We all learned it in Sunday School! LOVE LOVE LOVE! We need to care and caring means that the opinion and thoughts of others are important even when we disagree! Republicans (Christians) really need to think it over! What do you want and why not let us all have it! Why! Don’t let it slip away. Expand and love more! An Example would be the idea that maybe God knew what he was doing when he made me gay! Jesus Christ is Love and we arte forgetting it! You are wonderful people! I miss so much!

    1. John

      Randy, I agree 100% with, “We all learned it in Sunday School! LOVE LOVE LOVE! We need to care and caring means that the opinion and thoughts of others are important even when we disagree!”

  57. Brian Taylor, Sunset Neighborhood Chair

    Dear Mayor Curtis,
    Your right…the discourse has been degrading over the years, and may I say that you are correct, that it starts at the top. I would like to start with you. My recent experience with your appointees to the Planning Commission. Their condescension, contempt and general snarky attitude toward the citizens of our community was appalling. I brought this to your attention during our recent counsel meeting of which I have not received and apology, I have not heard of proposed call for civil discourse of your appointees or that action will be taken to ensure citizens who get involved in the process are actually treated with respect. (see…start at 1:15:41 for the first “mean question” and then Mr. Jones condescension at 1:22:55). Many of us who get involved in the governing process are not compensated for our efforts and when those who are have contempt for who aren’t, the dialog degrades rapidly. When concerned citizens who attempt to get involved are treated with such disrespect, they have no other recourse than to speak out harshly against those in power. Example of what many find to be overreach and misuse of power was Bill Pepperoni’s attempt to redefine A1 zoning just because there was an issue with one resident and his pigs. Rather that dealing with that specific individual, the planning department was going to “punish” an entire sector of citizens. And when items such as this come to light, it creates fear and anger as to what is going on when we are not looking or unaware of the cities actions.
    In your letter you pointed to the “top leadership”, which you inferred was at a national level, how about you focus on how YOU will change your leadership style in guiding those in your direct charge.

  58. Brooke

    Mr. Mayor,

    I appreciate the tone of your letter and what you are trying to say. I do agree there needs to be a civil tone. What I got from this letter is that you are trying to make everybody happy and just get along. The truth is that there are a lot of people in Provo that are unhappy and it feels like they are not being listened to. BRT is a huge part of the problem along with higher taxes, no retail, parking problems and apartment buildings creeping up on every corner. From what I see and the people I talk to there are a lot of them that are really frustrated with these things. I love Provo, I love living here and have lived here most of my life, but I am beyond frustrated at the mentality that everything is just fine or don’t worry we know what is best for you attitude. Things are not fine in these areas and I think surpressing the opposing viewpoints will not make the problem better, only worse.

    1. John

      Brook, I’m happy to consider your points. I see things from a very different point of view. I think we would both benefit from better understanding of each others frustrations (believe me I have them as well). Will you meet with me? If so, I’ll spend as much time as you would like understanding your concerns and in turn I would ask the same of you. Please email me at to find a time and place that work for both of us.

  59. Karen Asay

    I agree with Brooke and others who have expressed their frustration and disappointment over the BRT project. We feel that our voices are not being heard (only suppressed by shaming) and our opinions don’t matter. We feel that instead of listening to our views and concerns, we are simply being made to “shut up” and be pacified, and shamed into not being vocal in our dissent. The negative messages expressed via email and social media may be a reflection of the anger and frustration and helplessness that so many of us are feeling currently. As the old adage says, “Desperate people do desperate things.” When we reach a level of certain level of frustration, we resort to saying things that we might not ordinarily express. We are fed up with what’s happening lately with the BRT project. We feel that it is being rammed through, without any real discussion on the matter. It is extremely expensive and it saddens me greatly that trees and other structures have to be sacrificed in order to build a designated lane. I anticipate future problems that will arise after it is completed, not the least of which is someone will lose their life while crossing the road when a bus comes along. I don’t agree that we need more buses or longer ones, for that matter. It’s simply not a practical solution in solving the issues of air and water pollution and transportation. Riding the bus has always been expensive and time consuming. The very few routes don’t serve the needs of most people in Utah County. We are not the East, we are the West—and our needs and values are different than the people who live in the crowded urban areas in the East. Please listen to us without shaming us out of our opinions and concerns. We are desperate to stop this project. May we have a public dialogue, please?

    1. John

      Karen, You may be surprised to learn that I share many of your feelings coming from the other direction. As someone that has worked hard on BRT for 7 years I see things through a very different set of eyes. Would you be willing to sit down with me and let me hear your frustrations and also let me express mine (of course in a civil manner)? Please email me at so that we can find a time to meet.

  60. I believe you and I are working toward the same goal of a prosperous Provo, but perhaps we see the road there differently. I hate to see assets destroyed when I believe they still have value, and I will fight for what I believe is right. I couldn’t respect someone who does any less.

    I do believe I am open to the truth of a situation if I am in the wrong. Do you believe we can find some common ground, or will we remain at odds?

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