Michelle Kaufusi prepares to take the mayors helm 01

Michelle Kaufusi, who will be sworn in as Provo's interim mayor on Tuesday, poses for a portrait Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, at Provo City Center. Born and raised in Provo, Kaufusi will be the city's first female mayor when she's fully sworn into the position on Jan. 2. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Usually in this column I take one main idea or topic and enjoy a deep dive into it. This time we’ll go through several items. The first few apply to just about anyone; the remainder are more Provo-specific.

A time for reflection

For so many of us, the last few months have been an unparalleled time of reflection. I know some of you moms disagree. If you’ve had to teach your kids, your hands may have been fuller than ever. But with church and school and so much else canceled, I hope you have had at least some time to pause and think about your life.

I’ve heard more than one of you say you’ll never go back to the level of busyness you were at pre-COVID. I think most of us do marvel at how packed and structured our lives had become. And I think most of us have enjoyed some elements of a quieter and simpler life during COVID.

Before COVID, my leadership team started a book called “Essentialism.” I recommend it to anyone who feels pulled in too many directions, who yearns for clearer focus and an increased ability to eliminate non-essentials from their lives. Regardless of whether you read the book or not, I hope you find time to reflect on whether there are aspects of your life during COVID that you want to maintain once the pandemic is in our rear-view mirror.


If you haven’t taken the census yet, please do so. This is an important exercise on several levels. Billions in federal funding will be allocated based on population figures. Important boundaries, such as the boundaries for congressional districts, will be drawn using census data.

Beyond that, there’s the historical significance of the census. Hundreds of years from now, this census may be the one record of some of our lives from this decade, and your descendants may be grateful to see where you lived and who was in your household in the year 2020. (Personal information, such as names and addresses, from the census are not released until 72 years after the census.)

And if all that weren’t enough, taking the census is required by law. Just visit 2020census.gov. It’s quick and easy and you don’t need a special code. Your name and address should be enough to get you started.

CARES Act funding

In recent weeks, mayors of cities and towns within Utah County, together with our county commissioners, decided to provide $20 million in direct funding to Utah County nonprofits and businesses, using federal COVID-19 dollars.

I’ve been put on a committee to help determine the criteria for distributing the funds, so please feel free to email me at michelle@provo.org if you have input on that. It’s our hope that these funds will provide needed relief to businesses in our county and help them bridge to more prosperous times. We also hope that the funds will help stimulate the local economy here. We’ll announce the details and application process in coming weeks. The funds need to be distributed by the end of the year.

Conversations with Provo Police

I mentioned that we are in a period of reflection, and that certainly extends to reflection on policing in our nation. Provo is deeply engaged in that. I welcome this process but am committed to focusing on meaningful change not change for the sake of a headline.

I commend our Police Chief, Chief Ferguson. For years, he has been focused on creating the nation’s finest police department here. He is dear to me and so are our officers. I would trust my life to them. I am impressed with Chief Ferguson’s willingness to engage with residents in a dialogue to determine what he can do better.

If you have input for him or want to be a part of one of the Community Conversations he has been holding, he can be reached at rferguson@provo.org and apritchett@provo.org. And again, my email address is michelle@provo.org if you would like to send ideas and thoughts to me.

Habitat for Humanity

Probably my favorite morning over the last few weeks was when I attended the groundbreaking for a new home being built by Habitat for Humanity for a deserving family in Provo.

I won’t use their names here, but I met with a cute mom and her special needs son who has been telling everyone he meets that he will be getting a new home with his own room. He is so excited. As for the mother, her most touching expression was in the tears streaming down her cheeks as she spoke with us. The land for the home has been in her family for generations, and now with the help of good people from our community, she will see a home built on that land for her and her son. In these uncertain times, it was especially heartening to see such a magnificent display of human kindness.