When I decided to run for Congress, I did so because I felt I could be a different kind of leader — the kind of leader I strived to be as mayor. As a mayor, I thought I had it figured out. Working with diverse opinions, showing leadership on tough issues and solving problems were all hallmarks of my service. I loved serving, not because I’m a politician, but because I love Provo and its people.
Frankly, I’m a relative newcomer to the world of partisan politics: the bright lights of live TV debates, opponents misleading and misrepresenting my positions and a handful of media trying to paint me as something I’m not, combined with my own mistake of not being as clear as I could be in stating my positions. This has all manifested itself in a distorted picture of where I stand on our president, Donald Trump.
As a survivor of a bruising and difficult Republican primary, I now look back and realize that it was easy compared with the work ahead. Part of that work includes responding to calls to be overly simplistic in my views about the president, to either accept or reject the entirety of his agenda. The irony is that those who call for this are understandably tired of sound bites and simplistic responses to complex problems. Yet I’m being asked to respond to our president with the same tone those critical of him dislike. That’s not my style.
To those who are confused about my stance on Trump, let me be clear:
When Trump is moving an agenda forward that is in harmony with the needs and values of the 3rd District, I’ll be by his side fighting with all my might. When he’s not, I’ll be the first to call him on it and defend our Utah values.
I will work with Trump to balance the budget. I’m all for removing burdensome regulations and red tape that hamper innovation and stifle economic growth. I believe in a limited government, a strong national defense, capable and qualified Supreme Court nominees and tax reform that helps American families keep more of their hard-earned money. I believe in the power of the free market system and that in a free society we have to defend religious liberties and the Second Amendment and protect innocent life. I believe these words in the Declaration of Independence matter, that we are “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” and when the president’s agenda defends those rights, I will work harder than any other member of Congress to support him.
But let there be no doubt, although I strongly support securing our borders, I do not believe a wall can be our only response to our nation’s immigration problems. I do believe that we have to respectfully engage in the difficult conversations that will be required to solve these challenging problems without resorting to simplistic solutions, name-calling and bigotry. People in our communities are hurting. We need to calm the anger. We need solutions, not rhetoric; substance, not sound bites.
I will not support any proposal that bullies or disrespects any human being. I do not support discrimination of any kind, and I will not support the disrespect of women or minorities. I have consistently demonstrated my commitment to these values in my personal life and during my last eight years as mayor. I have a proven track record of respecting others. I believe caring for people means more than just spending taxpayer money; it means delivering results. It means respecting and challenging our citizens. Often, respecting people means telling them what they need to hear, not simply what they want to hear, and I am prepared for those conversations.
If I’m elected, I know we aren’t going to always agree — and that’s OK. What you can count on from me is the same thing the residents of Provo have seen for the last eight years. I’m a problem-solver and I know how to get things done; I’ll always listen, because you never know where a good idea is going to come from. I’ll admit it when I could have done better, and I won’t rest until I demonstrate the type of leadership you expect from me.
John Curtis is the mayor of Provo, Utah, and the Republican nominee for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.