Larry Walters says he is passionate about good government, but had no thought of running for Provo’s mayor.
“It was not even on my radar until a few weeks ago,” Walters said.
Walters has advised governments and trained government officials on five continents and at all levels, from international organizations to small towns.
"I believe fervently that good government can improve the lives of citizens,” he said. ‘I have also seen firsthand how poor government limits human progress and well-being.”
“I fell in love with public service while living in Ferron, Utah,” Walters said. “I dug graves, fixed water lines, plowed snow, and was the town’s general handyman. And I loved it.”
Walters served as the city manager in Salem, and served on the Utah State Tax Review Commission. Most recently he has volunteered on Provo‘s Budget Committee.
Walters believes the city is facing some major dilemmas.
“The city finance staff forecasts revenues and expenditures for 10 years into the future. The latest projections show that costs for our current level of services will exceed out income in every one of those years,” Walters said.
He continued, “This has happened in the past, and we have balanced the budget, as required by law. But under past administrations, the budget was balanced by postponing investment in needed infrastructure and by reducing our rainy-day funds. To their credit, the current administration has made an effort to change that.”
When it comes to issues like the Utah County lawsuit against the city over the parking at the Utah Valley Convention Center, or lack thereof, Walters sees it as a short-term thing.
“Downtown parking is available if you’re willing to walk,” Walters said. “We have to change our attitudes and expect to pay. Parking permits are a last resort.”
Walters said he is a supporter in principle of bus rapid transit, but is skeptical the area has the density for mass transit.
“We’ve not done our best job for the residents of Provo,” Walters said.
Walters notes that Provo is not getting its fair share of the growth in the county and that vibrant startup businesses don’t have places for them to go.
Walters campaign slogan is “Leadership today for a secure tomorrow.” He believes additional investments will be required.
“From new fire stations to roads, from a public safety building to the wastewater treatment plant, Provo will need to invest more in order to secure our future,” he said. “Aging infrastructure and changing state guidelines must be addressed without overburdening Provo residents and businesses. These needs will further increase the strains on city finances.”
Walters believes that transparency and social media play a vital role. It is important to communicate with the public about the programs and events the city has.
“People need to come together, there needs to be a sense of community, a sense of coming together,” Walters said.
Walters believes that means from the long-term homeowner all the way to the young adults just launching their careers. “We need to make sure they have a say,” Walters said.
Walters also encourages affordable housing and reviewing building ordinances.
When it comes to the west side development, he is adamant that it must be started with the end in mind.
“We need more discussion,” Walters said. “We need to maintain land and open space and use creativity and commitment.”
In speaking of the west side, Walters said the business plan of the municipal airport needs to be “rock solid”.
“It’s difficult for us to attract other carriers,” he said. "I’m worried about the stability of Allegiant Air.”
Walters said in a campaign introduction letter, “Provo’s most pressing need is not for a cheerleader, or for someone who promises to stay the course. Provo needs qualified, visionary leadership today for a secure future.”
Walters is married Carol Thorn, they have 7 children and 11 grandchildren.