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Political novice lovin' it

Councilwoman is first black woman to serve in county

Published: Monday, Sept. 27 2004 12:00 a.m. MDT

Mia Love talks with Saratoga Springs City Manager Ken Leetham before a work session. Love had never been involved in politics before moving to Utah County.

Dan Lund, for the Deseret Morning News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Mia Love is not your typical Utah County city councilwoman.

She's a young mother.

She's a newcomer to the area.

And she's African-American, the first black female to serve in a government position in the county.

But don't try and put Love in a box.

She is not out to prove anything except maybe to her daughters, whom she wants to see grow up unafraid of challenges.

"As an African-American woman I felt really compelled to get involved. I never, ever want to use the race card," Love said. "But I want my girls to know they can do anything they want. I want them to see me out there.

"No one, not one person should be afraid (to run for an office). I think those things (age, gender and race) are actually my strengths."

Love was born in New York City and raised in Connecticut. She graduated from the University of Hartford and converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after her sister joined.

She speaks French fluently and has traveled the world working as a flight attendant for Continental Airlines. She also worked in marketing as a product manager.

She fell in love and married her husband, Jason, after trying to set him up with a roommate. They moved to Saratoga Springs seven years ago, and Love ran for the City Council last year, winning handily.

This is her first foray into politics other than holding a class office in high school.

"When I moved here, that's when I got into politics. I think I represent a demographic that needs to be heard from," Love said. "I've got two small children. I stay at home. When I campaigned I took my children with me in a stroller. I think people can identify with me. And I have loved it. I knew there were issues when I started, but I told everyone right at the beginning, if they would respect me, I would respect them."

Love is currently working on getting the city Web site up and running before the city relocates to a new City Hall in December.

She spearheaded the effort to get the city's general plan clearly defined.

She also wants to see Saratoga Springs participate in creating a countywide library system.

Each week, she's busy on the phone. She's reading informational documents and attending City Council and planning sessions as well as listening to anybody who has a concern or a gripe.

"I get a lot of calls. When I go to church, people stop me and say, 'I have a question' or 'Why doesn't the city do this?' " Love said. "I don't mind. I make myself available."

However, Love is very protective of her downtime. She devotes herself to her husband (who is Caucasian), their 1-year-old blond, blue-eyed baby and her 4-year-old dark-haired, dark-eyed child.

She strives to keep a balance.

She's been helped along the way by a supportive mayor and council. She feels welcome in the community.

"I have people come up to me in the grocery store and say, 'I'm so glad you're here!' I think it goes to show people in Utah are perfectly open-minded," she said.

Mayor Timothy Parker said Love is not shy about asking questions or reticent about letting people know she needs more background on a particular issue.

"I think she's a very good councilwoman. She apologizes sometimes for not being up to speed, but she certainly doesn't hesitate to jump in. She's caught on very quickly and she contributes a great deal." Parker said.

Love said there have been a number of hot topics come before the council in the past year as the young city grapples with budget issues and growth issues. Sometimes she has voted no when it's been unpopular.

"I won't vote if I don't understand the information. I voted against the boys school because I don't think it should be in an agricultural zone. I've sometimes stood alone. On those nights, you just put on extra deodorant and do your best," Love said.


E-mail: haddoc@desnews.com

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