Questions Answered

I've been getting lots of questions via text, email, and Facebook.

I'm sharing the written questions I've received and my answers here (with identifying information redacted). I've also had several in-person conversations and phone calls (people really do call the candidates, and if I can answer the phone when you call, I will talk to you). I didn't transcribe those conversations, but many of them are similar to the written exchanges below. I'll add more of these questions and answers as I can. And if you want to send me a question, but don't want it shared, just let me know, and I'll keep it to myself.

If you message me, I'll answer, although it may take me a day or two.

Reach out at

What are your stances on issues, and are you on Twitter?

Hi! I was walking around my neighborhood and saw your campaign sign in front of a couple of houses. I was trying to find more information about your campaign online, and was wondering if I could get some more info on your stances on issues?

Also, do you have an active twitter account for your campaign?

My answer:

It's great to hear from you. I would love to talk with you: text me at 385-219-9804 and we can set up a time to meet or have a phone conversation. (If you don't text, just leave a message and I'll call you back: the phone won't ring for numbers that aren't already in my contacts.) You can also learn more on my website

I do not have a twitter account for the campaign. I check my personal twitter account about once every 4 months, so I wasn't well equipped to do a campaign twitter.

General position: we have to be smart about how we use our finite resources if we want to have good quality of life in Provo. Those finite resources include our open spaces (agricultural land, foothills, parks), developable properties, properties that add to the character of our community (this is a broader category that just the structures on the historic landmark list), and water. As our population doubles in size, there will be much more pressure to add housing developments. We need to do this by increasing density in carefully designated areas. At the same time, we need to maintain our sidewalks, make the bike infrastructure more robust and connected, and make public transportation more frequent so that people have ways to move through the city without relying on cars. After all, cars are not a viable options for many people: they are either too young to drive, they lack the physical capacity to drive because of age or other ability limitations (I couldn't drive for a month or so while I had a cast on my right foot), or they simply cannot afford a reliable car. If we want Provo to be a place where it is safe for families to walk around and kids to ride their bikes, we have to protect those parts of our infrastructure so our city is more than just a highway and parking lot.

Why are you running, and what are 3 major concerns?


If you could give me a brief synopsis of three to five major concerns in what you are campaigning on showing what you would do as mayor (as well as why this is important, the basic description of what you plan to do), I would appreciate it.

Here's my answer:

Thanks for reaching out, ____.

First, I'm running for City Council. I'm doing this because I love the work of bringing people together. This work requires careful listening, sympathy, and compassion to understand what the issues are, both what people say the problem is, and what the underlying worry is. The work requires building consensus, first on defining the problem (which is often harder than you'd think). And after the underlying issues and immediate problem are identified, then it's a matter of considering proposed solutions. And that conversation is crucial. That's where we work through what is possible based on external constraints. One thing I've learned as a neighborhood chair, and has been reinforced in my legal practice, is that people don't feel like they've been heard if they don't get exactly what they have asked for. So it is crucial to communicate, to let them see how their ideas have shaped the discussion and the proposed solution, so they can realize that they did have a voice. The wonderful thing about this process is that the outcome is better than the solution proposed by any one party at the beginning. It's been informed by different perspectives that help fill gaps in knowledge.

I am, by nature, a very curious person. I love learning new things and developing new skills. Every new thing I learn, I use to help others. For example, I went through a course to become a yoga teacher in my 20s. Since then, I've spent more time teaching free community classes and teaching kids than I have teaching at paid gyms. As a neighborhood chair, I found that I love fostering conversations about developments and other issues that affect the quality of life in my neighborhood. I also learned that I needed additional training to be able to read the City Code and state law properly. So I went to law school, and now part of my work as a civil litigator deals with municipal issues, real estate, and property rights. I can read the code, and I am well equipped to amend it. Since I've acquired legal expertise, I've used it to help my community, volunteering on Tuesday nights at the Family Justice Center in downtown Provo, where I give free legal advice to clients, usually on landlord tenant and family law issues.

To have natural curiosity and the opportunity to satisfy that curiosity through education and experience is a great privilege. I am grateful for these gifts, and I feel a keen obligation to use them to serve my community.

Because I love this kind of work, and because I am fundamentally a pragmatic person who wants to get stuff done, I will be a good addition to the city council. I'll help it be both more effective and more accountable to the residents of Provo.

Second, I'd like to refer you to my campaign website and my campaign Facebook page @ElectRachelWhipple. There you'll see an overview of my issues. The Facebook page has some short videos as well as links to meetings where I and other other candidates have introduced ourselves and discussed our positions.

Third, here are some of my major concerns:

1. Housing affordability. We need zoning reform, as well as overhaul of the permitting process, especially for ADUs. We also need to plan for smart growth, because our population will double, whether we're ready or not. Part of this will include more high density projects, especially in the TOD zones. If we do this right, we can preserve the character of neighborhoods while increasing density and welcoming more people into our community.

2. Accessibility. A lot of this has to do with transportation options. We need complete streets so that people using all forms of transportation are able to access essential services and amenities. This includes having well-maintained sidewalks (with shade trees, please!) that can be used by people in wheelchairs or with strollers, bike lanes so people of all ages can safely ride through the city to go to school, work, shopping, or just for fun, and a more robust public transportation system so that people without cars can still get where they need without a 5 mile trip taking over an hour. Even though my husband and I own a car, he walks to work, and I ride by bike. And when I've got a flat, I ride the bus (either 831 or 834). Our kids ride the UVX to get to the mall, UVU and BYU.

3. Protecting open space. This includes agricultural areas on the west side, foothills and canyons, and the little pockets within the city that act as impromptu parks or community gardens. I'm on the advisory board for Conserve Utah Valley, and I've spent years on the board of trustees for the Utah state chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Protecting land and water is essential to quality of life in our community. And for the floodplain near the lake and the foothills, there are good reasons these areas haven't already been developed (unstable soils, possibility of flooding, proximity to fault lines, insurability). With additional demand for housing, there is a strong economic pressure to overcome these physical obstacles. But we need to make sure that any development in these precarious areas is prudent, sustainable, and does not cause damage to neighboring property owners.

Thank you.

Several questions have been about mask or vaccine mandates.

Here's one email:

One of my biggest concerns is regarding mandating masks in the future.

Where do you stand on possible future mask mandates?

Thank you for your time.

My answer:

Honestly, I find the current conversation about masks and mandates very disheartening. There are very few places I've found where people are willing to approach each other in good faith and with patience to talk through these issues. As a result, no political leader will be able to build any kind of a consensus regarding this issue, no matter what the best current evidence is.

I understand the reasons the state legislature passed a bill to ban mask mandates in K-12 schools for this school year, but it feels shortsighted to remove a tool from the toolbox when you're dealing with a problem that is constantly evolving.

I am torn between two positions here. On the one hand, I strongly believe in local control. Let the county health departments weigh in on the needs of their local counties. Have municipal government make the say for its community. After all, the local elected are the ones most accountable to the people. They go to the same grocery stores, drive the same streets, as the people they are elected to serve. If they make a decision that some of their neighbors disagree with, they have to justify that decision to them. Under no circumstances should they be allowed steamroll their constituents, to impose a measure on them with no support or justification.

On the other hand, communicable diseases do not respect city boundaries. The rapid global spread of the pandemic is a downside to living in such an interconnected society. We don't live in a walled fortress where we are isolated and can exclude anyone who we suspect might bring contagion to us. It's not like a cholera ship coming into harbor with a yellow flag. Because of the widespread nature of the disease, widespread response is necessary.

We've run the experiment where we've seen how a piecemeal approach works. And we've seen that people are more likely to comply with mandates than with recommendations.

All of this is to say, I still don't know. I think any decision about a future mask mandate would have to be informed by the conditions in the future, which I cannot guess at right now. If the coronavirus mutates to be more contagious than measles? If vaccines are not efficacious against a future variant? If there are armed protests against the idea of reintroducing a mandate? If wearing a mask becomes the left's equivalent of flying a Trump flag? I just don't know. And I don't think it would be productive to tie myself to a position that would prevent me from making a good choice in the future. I've learned a lot in my life. That gives me the experience and capacity to make better, more informed decisions now than I did 20 or 30 years ago.

If I'm in a position to make a decision regarding a mask mandate in the future, I'll use the best information available at the time, which would include analysis of both the scientific evidence and social implications. And then I'll explain the factors used in that decision. Whatever I would do, I am sure I would get pushback, from one side or the other.

Thank you,


Questions about ranked choice voting, the less-served populations of Provo, environmental friendliness, police reform, and contraception (!).

This next email had several questions. You can see the question in purple and my answer in blue immediately following it.

I'm a firm believer that local government is the most important of the levels as it most directly and quickly impacts the citizens. As someone just starting their research into the various candidates I'm just trying to figure out your positions on a few things. Everybody has the exact same copy and paste spiel about neighborhoods, small businesses, taxing, vague values, whatever.

Here are my quick, unedited responses. I am more than happy to talk more about any of these issues. There is clearly more to say about all of them. I have a lot to learn, and I don't pretend to know all of the answers. (If I did think I knew everything already, I would be a terrible city councilor because I wouldn't be willing to listen and be responsive.)



Are you going to push for ranked choice voting?

I don't plan to push for this, but I support it. I know I'll have limited capital when I'm first elected, so I need to spend the first little bit building trust and rapport before I can start pushing for anything. I also think it is more practical to see how other municipalities in Utah deal with ranked choice voting. Provo is conservative in the cautious, little "c" conservative sense, and doesn't want to get too far ahead of the crowd on issues like this. (Also, thank you for writing "ranked choice." Anytime I see "rank choice" I think it stinks. ;)

How are you going to help support the less-served populations of Provo?

I volunteer at a pro bono legal clinic every Tuesday night and I work closely with social workers and other support agencies, like DCFS, Workforce Services, the Housing Authority, and victims' advocates. I also respect the necessary work of Wasatch Behavioral Health, the Children's Justice Center, Encircle, the United Way, Community Action, and the Food and Care Coalition. Those entities all receive funding from a variety of sources. I want to help them in the good work they do. Part of that is highlighting their work and services. I can't tell you how many people come into the clinic for legal advice and get more immediate help from another agency that they didn't even know about before.

Other ways to support the less-served populations are to dedicate more funds to basic transportation accessibility issues, like sidewalks (we have a lot of people in wheelchairs and jazzys), bike infrastructure (cars are expensive, and many people to see a safer infrastructure before they are comfortable using this more affordable option), encouraging UTA to make bus routes more user friendly (signage, frequency, useful routes, reduced fee passes), and pushing for more Spanish-language outreach and city communications (Provo's Latino population is about 16.5%. That's significant. See We also need to do things to support connected and vibrant neighborhoods, like having neighborhood schools with safe routes to school and good afterschool programs.

The most important thing is remember that we have less-served populations. I'm really grateful that I've been able to talk to so many people living in Dixon in public housing. I gave them my phone number so they can hold me accountable.

How are you going to help Provo be more environmentally friendly?

At the moment, the head of the Sustainability and Natural Resources Committee (Don Jarvis) is happy with the level of influence he has with the Mayor and the Council. Once that balance shifts, however, either because the mayor changes or Don has to step down, I will work to establish an official position in the city government (either an employee with some redundancy so institutional knowledge is not lost in the event of staff turnover OR a commission much like the Planning Commission) to exercise oversight for city actions, everything from fleet upgrades and watering schedules to the environmental impact of new developments, street engineering decisions, and zoning standards.

I will also continue to work with Conserve Utah Valley and The Nature Conservancy to see about partnering with local landowners to enact conservation easements on open spaces. I'll keep volunteering with local groups like the Rock Canyon Preservation Alliance and Slate Canyon Saturdays. And I'll keep doing the Maeser communal garden (for garden updates, get on the email list at or see the posts in the Maeser Facebook group). I'll continue to work to implement the Bicycle Master Plan, try to allocate more budget funds for bike infrastructure and sidewalks. And I'll work to revisiting our zoning laws to allow for more mixed uses, like little bodega-style grocery stores in neighborhoods, and more high density development in TOD zones.

If covid or its variants continue to be an issue after you're elected, how would you handle it?

Very carefully. This issue has been politicized beyond all reason. It's clear from the Constitution and Supreme Court precedence that the government has authority to take all manner of action in the name of public health, even when those actions infringe on personal liberty and autonomy. But the relevant SC cases are pretty old, and I don't want to be the municipality whose law is so offensive to popular opinion that the SC uses it as an excuse to overturn precedent.

My approach to divisive issues is to try to find common ground. What do we agree on? Do we respect the same authorities? Being patient, asking questions, listening carefully. Get more people with a variety of viewpoints involved so it's not just one set of people making the same comments, creating the illusion of consensus. Then, if the best course of action is one that I know many people will still hate, try to explain how they have been heard, how their concerns have shaped the decision, and how their fundamental freedoms are still protected.

What sort of police reform/updates would you like to see on a city level? (And don't say it's fine as it is, no system doesn't need improvement)

To start, I want to see more de-escalation training. Police officers know they are going into tense situations. But they seem to forget that their very presence raises the tensions for the people they are interacting with, and it makes it harder for those people to remain calm or follow instructions immediately. Many of us need more time to process instructions when we are in stressful situations that we were not anticipating and did not prepare for. I tend to think that most traffic stops for things like broken lights, etc., should be a helpful heads-up, if they occur at all. They should not turn into an opportunity to find probable cause for other issues.

Officers need much more training to deal with people in crisis. This includes those under the influence of various substances, medical emergencies and psychotic episodes, and people experiencing trauma (like victims of domestic violence). Ideally, much of the response to medical and drug issues should be handled by trained social workers (a group that is chronically overworked and underpaid as it is) instead of police officers. People in crisis need help, support and stability, not confrontation. A few years ago, a man was walking down 300 South wearing nothing but boxer briefs in the winter. No shoes. Moving erratically, talking to himself, yelling occasionally. He clearly needed help, to be coaxed someplace safe and warm. We need someone to call other than the police in these situations. I was afraid that if I called, he would not respond to police commands, or his erratic movements would be taken as threatening (although it was clear that he had no weapons or any place to conceal one). I didn't want him to get killed if I called for help.

I also think that police officers need to be more responsive to community concerns. I've talked to people in Dixon and Franklin who feel like the cops never come when they're needed, and there's no follow up or explanation. One of the most effective things I've seen police officers do to help the safety of the neighborhood is to park their cars right next to the school zone to encourage drivers to actually slow down and to ticket those who don't.

Tangentially, we need to put additional funding into Animal Control so that they can respond after hours and on weekends.

And finally, is increasing contraceptive access something that you're going to prioritize?

Honestly, I hadn't thought about this in conjunction with the Provo city council. Can you tell me what you're thinking of here?

I got my first birth control through Planned Parenthood in the late 90s. Since 2009, I've been on DMBA health insurance, which is good for a lot of things, but awful when it comes to contraception. I had to pay for my IUD out of pocket, ($1,000+) even though the doctor tried to persuade them that it qualified as medically necessary (one of the few reasons DMBA will cover contraception for a woman under 40 who has had fewer than 4 kids). I suffered for several years from extraordinarily heavy periods thinking it was related to the IUD, but did not get help because 1) my GP had blown off my concerns even though I had been charting everything and had numbers to back me up; and 2) if it was the IUD, I knew I'd have to pay for another form of BC out of pocket. When I turned 40, and knew that my health insurance would cover something, I went to the OBGYN who immediately diagnosed me with uterine fibroids and recommended a hysterectomy. I should have gotten that diagnosis years earlier, but I didn't seek it out because I thought the issue was related to BC, which my insurance didn't cover.

All of this is to say we absolutely need better access to contraception. We need much better sex education in our schools (this is a state level issue, so I don't think I'll have much influence here) and we need clear conversations about consent. Everyone needs access to education, health care, and contraception. If you've got a plan for this, I want in on it.

I've gotten several questions and phone calls encouraging me to watch the "Plandemic" video.

I had to think for a few days how to respond to this question.

What is your view of face mask/vaccine/lock-down mandates? Also critical race theory being taught in schools. What about federal overreach, climate change, censored social media, multiple gender choices/pronouns being promoted in the schools? Do you believe that Biden was fairly elected or was the vote fraudulent? Are you aware that Utah has also used the suspect Dominion voting machines for our elections? Would you support a similar audit in Utah to that which is happening in AZ? What is your opinion of career politicians? Chemtrails, human trafficking. Do you even know what adrenochrome is? Nano particles, Luciferase, graphene oxide, ethylene oxide and how they are related to "Covid" tests and "vaccines". Do you know the true origins of the "Plandemic" and the ties to Anthony Fouchi, Bill Gates, George Soros?

These are the real issues. How can I vote with confidence for anyone who is unaware of these topics? The rest is just straightening chairs on the deck of the titanic.

Here's my answer:

Based on your questions, it sounds like you're a believer in QAnon and other sources of information that are well outside of the mainstream media. I am familiar with the Plandemic video, but I haven't done a deep dive into a lot of the things you mention.

To be honest, I don't see what authority a city councilor would have to address a lot of those concerns. City council is about local zoning, city budgets, and making sure things happen like allocating enough money to repair sidewalks and sewers. It's about local issues, like enough funding for our police and fire departments, how our policies either attract or discourage businesses and development, and doing what it takes to keep the lights on for the city. I don't think our city council could make a vaccine mandate if it wanted to. First, on the local level, that's a department of health decision, not a city council decision. Second, a good chunk of the people in Provo would revolt, and when the government loses the consent of the governed, it loses all authority. Likewise, the city council has no say over what is taught in our schools: that's the school board. If the city council butted in on those issues, it would be overreach.

For the things on your list that I am informed about (and granted, I'm almost certainly relying on different sources of information and authority than you are), I expect that my view is very different from yours. For example, I know that Utah has used Dominion voting machines, but I believe Amelia Gardner, who was our local election official during the 2020 election, that our vote was secure. (She's now a Utah county commissioner.) She is conservative, and a self-proclaimed Trump supporter, and I am confident that she did her job well and with integrity. That's one reason I would not support an audit in Utah like the one happening now in Arizona.

If you would like to meet, I'd love to have a conversation in person with you about this. You and I have both seen how things get twisted and censored online, so it's hard to know what to believe or if someone is being honest with you. That's why I think these things are best talked about face to face.

Take care,


Two days after I responded, I got this email:

Dear Politician hopeful:

Do you even really read these emails, or is this just another pacifying illusion that you are listening to your constituents?

And five minutes later, this one:

I apologize. My bad.

I see that I have email responses from several of you but not all. Thank you to the candidates who have responded to my email.

I'm still hoping that I'll get a response. If this voter is willing, I would like to continue the conversation.

The Lakewood Neighborhood Chair posed several questions: west side issues, mosquito abatement, taxes, and more.

The text in purple is from the Lakeview Neighborhood Chair. The blue text has my reply. The post with all District 5 candidate answers can be found here:

The west side of Provo would like to know more about YOU. I have to say that I also post to the Franklin and Franklin South neighborhoods, so some of these more general questions, I will also post there.

Those running for district 5 ONLY: if you forgo the West side specific questions, I understand...If you want to give an answer on how this would apply to your area that would be better...example the mass transit that would apply to your area...such as support or not support a rapid bus system down 500 west from Lehi or other options you would support or like to see...Where you will vote on west side issues as well, I would not mind knowing your stance. I am just not sure I will post those responses because I do NOT want to confuse the west side residents on who they are voting for. However, if you answer the west side questions in a way that would effect your area...I will post those responses to Franklin and Franklin South.

Mayoral and City Wide: I will also post to Franklin and Franklin South....If you would like to give additional responses specific to those neighborhoods....I will post those as well....just please clarify it in your responses. For example the west side specific is mass transit...if you would like to speak of your vision for mass transit in the downtown area....I will take those and post those to the appropriate neighborhoods.

If you would not mind answering these questions and getting back to me before Saturday, July 17, 2021, I would really appreciate it. Come Sunday I will post the answers to the facebook pages so the residents can know more about YOU.

Some of these questions are ones that residents proposed and some are of general interest to west side residents.


1. Introduction of who you are and why you are running for your office. (Brag about what you have done, what your qualifications are, what your goals and visions for Provo are, what services you have provided to Provo residents in the past, what you would change and how, etc.) Please provide your preferred method of contact, so that residents may contact you for more information. Thanks

Rachel Whipple here. I'm an attorney in Provo, graduate of BYU Law. I've lived in the Maeser neighborhood since 2009, and I love it here. My husband was recruited to teach at BYU in the biology department, and we took the job because Provo was the only university city where we could afford to buy a home on a starting professor's salary. We deliberately chose downtown Provo so we could bike and walk everywhere. Even now, my husband walks to campus to work everyday, and I ride my bike to work.

Before I went back to school and became an attorney, I was a stay-at-home mom to our three kids. I learned all manner of housewifery skills, from gardening, canning, baking, fermenting, sewing, reupholstering furniture, weaving, knitting, painting, hanging drywall, and so on. Years of managing a family and tight student budgets taught me to be resourceful. As the kids got older, I was able to do more work in the community, starting by teaching yoga at the kids' preschool, then volunteering in their classrooms and participating in PTA, and then serving as the acting chair of Maeser neighborhood during the 300 S project, serving on the Mayor's Sustainability and Natural Resources committee under both Mayors Curtis and Kaufusi, the Provo Bicycle Committee (now BikeWalk Provo), as well as serving on the boards of various non-profits organizations. The most important work I do right now is volunteering at the free legal clinic associated with the Family Justice Center on Tuesday nights in downtown Provo. (That's why you won't see me knocking on doors on Tuesday nights.)

My older two kids both went to Provo high, and it was hard on us when they moved so far away that my kids could no longer walk or bike to school. My oldest will be at UVU this fall, my middle child at BYU, and my youngest will be a freshman at Timpview.

You can reach me on Facebook @ElectRachelWhipple, by email at, or by texting me at 385-219-9804. You can also check out my website

I am supportive of additional mass transportation options. Right now it's all but impossible to get anywhere on the west side without a car. That's far too exclusionary. I've spent a significant portion of this last year with either a cast or a boot on my right foot, making it all but impossible for me to drive a car. While my limitation is temporary (I hope!) that's not the case for everyone who cannot drive because of physical limitations. A lot of people cannot drive because they are too young, and not all families are able to shuttle kids around the city, which means that without non-car options, a lot of kids are not able to participate in extracurricular activities, sports, go to the library or rec center, or do other things that they are fully capable of doing were transportation not a barrier. And some people simply cannot afford a reliable car, even though they need it to get to work and shopping.

I don't know what the best routes would be to connect the west side; I would need more input from residents as well as transportation engineers. From my own experience using mass transit in Provo and other cities in the US and EU, the most important factors are well-connected routes, clear time indicators (like digital signs that announce when the next bus will arrive), and frequent enough service.

b. As a mayoral candidate the same question as above with the addition of would you support and initiate city staff to ask and aid UTA in providing more mass transit options west of the freeway? If so, which ones? why?

3. Mosquitoes are a big issue west of the freeway. With a new regional sports park and growth of an airport we would like to see more done in the way of mosquito abatement. We do understand that currently this is a county issue; however, some feel like more needs to be done to control the mosquito population west of the freeway.

If elected, how would you address this problem? Where would the funding come from? (please answer according to your specific roles if elected)

If the city does anything with mosquito abatement, it must work in conjunction with the county. At the moment, I expect the best course is to encourage the county to be diligent at monitoring, and to adjust their spray schedule if warranted. I appreciate that they avoid spraying on weekends and holidays. When the sports park opens, I believe the county should also take activity at the park into consideration when spraying: if there are tournaments or events after sundown, spraying should not occur until after the event has concluded so people are not directly exposed. This will require communicating the sports park schedule with the county.

4. Provo is the 3rd largest city in the state but yet it lacks retail options for its residents. The lack of retail is a big issue for a lot of residents in Provo. It seems like city staff always has an excuse for why Provo does not and cannot attract more retail.

The city council a few years ago made retail one of their priorities. Since then we have seen the East Bay Ownership change hands and some improvements made like Ross, NAPA, the vintage store, and a new gym. We have seen the Provo Town Center Mall change ownership with big promises of change, but have not seen much in the way of change for that location even though some rezoning was done.

We have also seen tax incentives approved by the city council to help some of these businesses bare the costs of revitalizing their properties. This has both good and bad outcomes. Some say with this we are giving away some of our precious tax dollars and money has to come from somewhere...if not the business then the residents in either the form of property tax increases or utility bill increases.

Both Council Candidates and Mayoral candidates: How do you feel about tax incentives to provide for more retail? How do we encourage business owners to revitalize their properties and bring in needed retail and business options?

Honestly, I'm a conflicted about the tax incentives to attract big retailers. Too often, those deals meant to attract anchor tenants in shopping centers and malls result in losses to the city because the business can leave after the incentive period but before they actually start contributing to the tax base (depending on how the contract is written). The idea that the big retailer would draw enough traffic to allow smaller retailers to operate nearby doesn't always work in practice, and it also means that the small retailers are not given the same incentives. So little businesses end up bearing a disproportionate burden, which feels very regressive. That said, a dead mall or vacant shopping center does no one any good. So I'm not completely opposed to sweetheart tax deals, but I am skeptical. I'd want to see some good proposals.

The city can encourage revitalization by revisiting the zoning and parking requirements for these shopping areas. We have seas of asphalt surrounding shuttered stores. This is a terrible use of our limited land space. Allow for more infill, more density of businesses. Allow more high density residential developments close to transit areas and shopping centers.

Mayoral Candidates Only: If elected, what plans do you have to provide more retail in Provo? or how do we fix this problem?

5. A west side grocery store is important to many west side residents. Recently the city council rezoned the Smith's Food and Drug parcel on Center street and Geneva to mixed use inorder to lift Smith's hold on the west side market.

They also prezoned the parcel at 500 west and the Lakeview Parkway with hopes to market this spot for a west side grocer.

City staff also told the neighborhoods that besides the parcel at 500 west and the Lakeview Parkway they would also market a parcel up on 2000 north where the Lakeview Parkway will expand along 2000 north to Geneva Road.

From speaking with staff, I understand that the city has been working hard on getting a west side grocery store and some sort of announcement will come around August 2021.

If by chance that opportunity falls through, what are your priorities for a west side grocer? How would you go about getting one? What changes, if any, would you make? (For council this would be more of a financial question rather than a marketing question.)

6. Taxes, taxes and more taxes.

Taxes are a sore spot for many Provo residents; especially those that have fixed or low incomes, and/or those that are house poor from the constant rise in housing costs.

Both city and school district elected officials tell us that we have NOT had a tax increase and buildings have NOT been replaced so now it is time to pay up. However, having everything hit all at once is an issue financially for many of our tax payers, especially when both the school district and the city get funding from the same pool of people.

While it is true that Provo City has NOT raised property taxes in quite some time, they have collected taxes on the residents by increasing and adding taxes (like the road tax and the telecom tax) onto the utility bills. A portion of this bill returns back into the city's general fund each year to cover other needs.

Provo City currently has financial needs, especially in this last budget season where the city council was discussing raising property taxes in order to cover additional police officers...which the city currently needs.

Where Mayors make and recommend a budget to the council and councilors approve the budget, I would like both to weigh in: How do we pay for the needs of the city, while keeping our taxes low or managable for our residents?

If we are bringing in so little tax revenue that we are deferring infrastructure maintenance over several years or decades, our taxes are artificially low. We're starting to see this now with the cost of sewer and other long-deferred maintenance finally coming due. We have to realize that failing to maintain these systems is a form of debt, and it is not sustainable. I'm relieved we're finally addressing some of these overdue maintenance issues, and especially relieved that we're doing it before we see cataclysmic failure of one or more of these systems that would be significantly more expensive than routine repair or scheduled replacement.

Many Provo residents could afford to pay their portion of the actual amount we need to collect for the services and infrastructure we have access to by living in this city. But years of artificially low taxes have gotten us accustomed to a certain level. We have already budgeted that money elsewhere. The impulse is to demand that the city, county, and school district cut their spending rather than raise revenue. But for the most part, our local government in this very fiscally conservative area is already responsible and frugal (too much so, since many departments have been deferring maintenance in order to stay within already low budgets). What we need to do is to communicate better what we've been spending and why, as well as what we haven't been spending (either cost savings through efficiencies or cost deferrals by kicking the can down the road) so that the taxpayers have a better sense of whether tax revenues are adequate or excessive.

That said, I know a lot of Provoans who absolutely cannot afford to pay anything more in taxes or utilities. If they are renters, they cannot afford for their landlords to pass those increased costs on to them. They live on fixed budgets, and their margins are so slim as to be non-existent. Regressive taxes, like sales tax, hurt these residents the most. I think we need a more robust utility assistance program. I also think that we need to make it easier for homeowners to realize income by renting a portion of their property. (One of my elderly neighbors desperately needed to rent out their basement apartment for supplemental income to offset medical expenses, but were not allowed to do so because in their older house, you had to duck your head as you went down the stairs to the basement apartment. The cost to change that little area of head clearance was thousands of dollars, which they didn't have. Other than that, the apartment was really nice, much better than places I lived when I was a BYU undergrad in the late '90s.)

What do you have to say to those on fixed or low incomes or those who may be house poor due to the constant rise in housing costs that feel financially strapped due to the constant increase in taxes and utility bills?

I'm so sorry. We were house poor for the first half of our marriage, and the stress of that was a constant worry that made doing everything else more difficult. When we moved here in 2009, we were fortunate to find a house on the low end of our budget. If we had to buy it in today's market, we'd be just as house poor as we were when we lived on Long Island. The fact that we're not house poor now is a matter of luck and privilege, not an indication that we are good with our budget or otherwise deserving. The fact that you are house poor does not mean that you are irresponsible, or that you aren't working hard enough, or any other failing on your part. You're doing the best you can, and it's a condemnation of our society that it may not be enough. And as my two older kids are moving out of our home, I don't know where they can afford to live, either while they are students or after they graduate if they want to stay here.

So what do we do? We've got to increase the supply of housing. There are lots of ways to do this, and the most obvious ones are to increase density in some areas of the city, especially those along major transportation corridors and in the transit oriented development zones. As we build more high density units there, we also need to protect and improve the housing stock of "move up" homes. We need to make it easier to add accessory dwelling units (the change a few years ago to allow detached ADUs is a step in the right direction, but the permitting process is a long, drawn out nightmare), and I think we should consider allowing detached ADUs for properties that already have an attached basement or garage ADU. We need to find a way to integrate more residents into our neighborhoods without destroying the neighborhood fabric (just ask many residents on east Center Street how disruptive the illegal AirBnB has been). This will also require that we consider parking requirements and accessibility. There are no easy answers, but I believe that we can work to alleviate the problem now and mitigate the harm we anticipate as the population doubles.

Clarifying intent, where it is ambiguous, is important. Clarification should not be confused with changing. I haven't spent enough time with this matter to know whether this is a clarification or a change. We certainly need to be sure that the plan and map are consistent with the policies. Listening to some of the public comment, it appears that there are at least 2 different understandings of what the plan means, and there may be a conflict between the plan and the policy, so clarification is warranted.

When Councilor Harding talks about what standards are applicable to the developer's proposals, he's going into the realm of "vested rights." The quick explanation of this is that a developer only has to comply with the requirements that are in place at the time it submits its application. If you put in your project plan and get it approved, your right to pursue that plan is vested, and you retain that right even if the city then changes the requirements before you get around to realizing the plan (more or less, clearly every situation is fact specific). In this case, the city was in the process of developing new requirements after the initial application. Because the plan was not finalized before the developer submitted their application, it is not applicable to the development, but it will apply to development applications submitted after the plan is finalized. Similarly, clarifications or amendments to the plan will apply to applications submitted after those clarifications or amendments are adopted. These vested rights stand even if city councilors are frustrated about the slowness of the process.

Regarding the substance of Harding's clarification, I like the idea that the different types of housing be integrated into the developments of the new neighborhoods have a mixture of housing. Mr. Hill's comments that the plan allows for a variety of development without compelling variety within each development is well taken, as is the caution that smaller developers may not be able to provide variety within developments. Mr. Handley's comment that even small developments can provide variety if they don't run into lots of roadblocks from the city is also important.

I didn't get to watch all of the comments, and I haven't spent as much time with this issue as have the current councilors and neighbors. Because of that, at this point, I would also vote to have the planning commission review the issue and proposal a clarification to bring the plan and policy into conformity.

As a rule, I believe the master plan needs to be taken into consideration. The master plan is a very useful guidance document, and it provides stability through directed changes because both current and potential property owners can see what areas are expected to remain as they are and which areas are designated for new zoning or change of use. If that plan is not considered, it is worthless and adds to uncertainty, which will inhibit good development.

Mayoral Candidates: I have been on committees for planning that have had citizens from other cities on them. Is this appropriate to have residents from another city on our planning committees? why or why not? Is it important to you to have representation from the area being planned on those committees? Why or why not?

Both Mayoral and Council: What will you do to protect landowners who want to keep farming or who want to sell their land to developers at a price fair to them?

I would love to see our agricultural spaces preserved and agricultural use continue. That open space, although privately owned, is a huge asset to our entire community. It adds to quality of life for residents on the west side and to everyone else who wants to escape from the denser parts of the city on country roads and trails that go through these agricultural areas. That said, the owners of the agricultural lands are the ones who have the right to decide whether they will continue to farm their land or not. Market forces may influence their decision, both the economics of running the farm and the economic pressure of development, but that is how we expect it to work in a free market. If a landowner wants to ensure that their property will remain open, agricultural land after they are no longer able to work the land themselves, they can work with various partners to establish conservation easements to protect the use and character of their land for generations to come. As the owners, that's their right.

Similarly, if a farmer decides they want to sell their land for new development, they should fetch whatever the market will bear. That will depend on how the land is zoned. If the city choses to change the zoning from ag to residential, the city has an interest in requiring that any potential developer bear a substantial portion of the cost to add the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the change in use. Think about the cost of streets, curb and gutter, sidewalks, sewers, fiber optic cable, and power transmission. These costs are necessary for the land to command residential market value instead of the lower ag market value. So a selling farmer will not get as much for their land as someone who is selling land that is already established as residential, even if the city changes the zoning, because any developer knows that they will have to invest a lot in infrastructure before they can start to make their profit by selling smaller parcels.

8. The discussion seems to be coming up more and more about the lack of amenities in one part of town, or the dumping of this type of housing in this part of town, and just the lack of equality over the different parts of town.

Impact fees are fees collected through development or redevelopment that are meant to be used to offset the money that would be needed to add additional people to the city. In Provo, impact fees are NOT kept in the area which they are collected, but instead go to the pet project at the time.

Things like parks that are waiting for funding get bumped for other pet projects in the city.

How do we change this perception, if it is perception, or lack of equality if it is lack of equality in the city? Mayors are responsible for the capital improvements plans and council is tasked with voting on it.

I think we need a transparent list of projects that are waiting to be done. If a project jumps the queue (like because the neighbors secured grant money or other matching funds) that needs to be apparent to everyone. And that practice cannot be used in a way that means underrepresented areas (where people lack the means and time to organize projects or write their own grant proposals) never get their projects done. I've talked to several neighbors who are concerned about crumbling sidewalks. When they did 311 requests for grinding or replacement, they were told that the city is more than 3 years out on sidewalk repair. But there is not list or queue that they can get on to ensure that in 3 and a half years, their sidewalk will be next in line to get fixed. We need this. And we need the list to be a balance of requested projects/repairs and scheduled projects/repairs, otherwise only the more affluent areas of the city with lots of organized complaints will see the benefits. And if such a list already exists, it needs to be made accessible. If we don't know about it, we can't make use of it, and it will continue to feel very unfair.

9. Neighborhood Program

The Neighborhood Program has been around in this city for over 50 years. The neighborhood program currently falls under the city council, however, the neighborhood chairs work with both city councilors as well as city staff. It is currently under review by the city council.

Here is a link to the council work meeting, July 6, 2021 where this was discussed:

Time Stamp: (0:13:26) 1. A presentation regarding the Neighborhood Program. (21-071)

What are your feelings about the neighborhood program? As a city councilor or a mayor how would you use the neighborhood program and what kinds of things would you like to see from it? As a resident, what kinds of things would you like to see from it? and why?

I didn't want to be the Maeser neighborhood chair; it felt like too big of a job for me while I had a young child and was going back to school. I volunteered to be a vice chair. After a couple of months, the elected chair went AWOL, and our COP started getting on me to schedule the regular meetings that we'd had before. So I stepped up into the role. I held the meetings, passed on information about potential development, scheduled representatives of different city departments to give updates, emailed summaries of meetings, and created the neighborhood facebook page. While I was the acting chair, UDOT decided to regrade 300 S between University and 700 E, the stretch that bisects the Maeser neighborhood.

300 S was a huge project, and neighborhood and city input in the design meant it was an extra year before construction got started. A lot of people are still unhappy about it because we lost the ability to drive N/S and make left turns. But UDOT’s original plan to deal with the accidents from those left turns was to put a concrete median the entire length from University to 700 E, with no breaks whatsoever. It would have been terrible for the neighborhood, and would not have discouraged the pervasive speeding along that stretch. The compromise we got (pedestrian and bike signal at 200 E, signal with left turn lane at 400 E, pedestrian crosswalk at 600 E) is less than we wanted, but better than what we had before and what UDOT wanted to do. There were heavy costs for individual property owners who lost part of their front yards to make space for the turn lane. (They did get a check, but from now on, their front doors are that much closer to the sidewalk.) And many property owners and residents on 400 E were very concerned about the increased traffic that would now flow past their homes with everything being diverted through the light. (The city has done some paint on the street to attempt to help calm the traffic, although I haven't seen numbers to indicate whether it worked.) The other concern, that property values would fall as a result of the project has not materialized. Overall, the street is much safer and more attractive than it was before.

My role in the project was very much like a mediator. My personal point of view had to be put to the side as I communicated the concerns of the neighbors to the city, UDOT, and the contractor. And then I relayed to the neighbors the preferences and constraints that the agencies were working under. One of the most important aspects of my role was to help the residents keep track of how the project was changing. Too often, when we don't get what we want, we feel like we haven't been heard at all. If that's the perception, then any compromise will feel like a failure. So it was important for us to all see how our work influenced the project and made it better than what was originally envisioned. And because I was patient and persistent, but not antagonistic, I was able to work with everyone.

So that's part of my experience being a neighborhood chair. I felt it a heavy responsibility and I learned an enormous amount about the city and how things get done. I was helped and mentored by other chairs, city staff, and city council members. And I needed that help because it took a lot of time and effort to learn enough to be a responsible representative for my neighborhood. I understand that not all neighborhoods have regular meetings or engaged residents. I am also told that some chairs use their position to push their own point of view rather than doing the work of seeking input from a wide swath of their neighbors, including those who do not speak English. That has not been my experience, so all I can say is that I wouldn't want my neighborhood to operate that way, and if the neighborhood programs supports that kind of behavior, it should be revised.

10. With the increased housing & population density in downtown Provo, what will you do to prevent Provo’s downtown from becoming a typical large city downtown with the increased poverty, crime, homelessness and other unbecoming characteristics?

This is a question presented by a resident. I would like to add that in my opinion Provo is already seeing these things. I sit on the citizen advisory board for the police department and I hear the former police chief say how Provo bares the weight of the homeless for the entire county. Other cities just load up their homeless in a patrol car and drop them off at the food and care coalition. He also stated how with the Frontrunner station ending in Provo and with the closure of the Salt Lake County homeless shelters, more and more homeless are coming into Provo. He also mentioned that Provo is the only city in the county with aid for people who are in need of it. We have both the food and care coalition as well as the food bank..Community Action.

I hear from the redevelopment agency and how they administer the Community Development Block Grants for the county here in Provo. Those are grants used to help the really poor in the city. Currently the only neighborhoods that qualify for this funding are the downtown neighborhoods. I hear many council members and even city staff say that this is because students are poor. However, from where we sit, I see that if this city is affordable for the students it is also affordable for those with limited incomes. It is NOT just students that make up this demographic. We do have many in this city that are struggling just to survive and are not students.

The school board tells us they have the most title one students of any district in the county.

With the rise in housing costs and taxes, I can see more and more people becoming homeless.

First, as the city densifies, it can become safer. More people walking on the street, going from homes to restaurants or work means that there are fewer shadowy corners to hide. My home is on 300 S. People walk by all the time, and many of them do not have stable housing. But I feel safe because the street is well lit with high traffic, both cars and pedestrians. As we build more high density housing in downtown, there will be more foot traffic and more eyes on the street. This makes it safer. And another part of the of these housing complexes is that they will increase the housing supply to align with demand so that there is a wider range of housing options throughout the city.

Second, it cannot continue to be the case that Provo is the only city that offers real services for the homeless population in Utah County. The poor will always be with us, and we have an obligation to care for them. And so does Spanish Fork, and American Fork, and Lehi and every other city in Utah County. So part of the solution is to help other cities address their own unhoused population through partnerships or mentorships and modeling.

Most of the crime we see in the downtown areas are property crimes, usually things stolen out of cars, yards, and garages that can be sold or pawned. It's been this way for years. (My daughter even had her box of snacks stolen out of her car. She doesn't leave it unlocked anymore.) I don't see this changing. We need to continue to follow police advice to "Hide it, Lock it, Keep it" and we need to pass that on to people who move into the neighborhoods. We do have some domestic violence calls which are often associated with economic stress, but not always, as well as drug dealing and meth houses. I can remember our neighborhood COP urging us to be patient as we waited for busts of houses that we knew good and well to be drug houses as information was being collected.

These are persistent problems, and it would take a huge investment in both intervention measures and support services to address them in a meaningful way. This includes everything from after school programs to counseling to drug rehabilitation services. We should do it. The price tag will be high, but the ROI is good, and it's the right thing to do.

I would like to add to that what would you do to help the current situations as well as the questions posed above.

Also, what does "affordable housing" mean to you, and why? How do we fix the affordability issue? Where do we place it? or is it even appropriate where we already have so many housing options? Do other cities need to take on their portion of the burden? If so, how do we encourage that?

Please see my answer to the second part of number 6 above.

11. Do you support the initiative to develop island communities on Utah Lake?


12. What is their commitment to helping preserve lake wetlands and habitat?

This is a matter not just of preservation, but of restoration. I recommend that everyone read "On Zion's Mount" by Jared Farmer to get a better sense of the history of Utah valley and Utah Lake. That context allows us to see how much we have lost through our treatment of the lake over several generations, from Geneva steel, to ag runoff, to stocking the lake with carp. The Provo Delta project is a good step, as is the work to raise June suckers in hatcheries. But until we repair the habitat in the lake and delta, the June suckers will not become a self-sustaining population. There is a lot more work to be done. As we do it, the lake will become more of an attraction and asset to our city, and we'll all benefit from that.

Pride and BLM


I am trying to vote for local candidates who support diversity and inclusion. Are you supportive of pride and Black Lives Matter?

Thank you,

Answer (with phone typos corrected, although you can see the original screenshot of this conversation, as well as other candidates' answers here:

Yes and yes.

Our family has gone to Provo Pride since it first started in Memorial Park. Two of my kids went to Encircle after it opened while they were in high school. I very much want to see reform for housing in Provo and Orem so that transgender people can live without fear of housing discrimination.

I’m not as intimately involved in BLM issues; I’ve just gone to vigils and had hard in-person conversations with well-meaning people who feel threatened by BLM or don’t see the necessity for the movement. I try to make room for conversation, to allow people to share their stories and perspective. And when I’m in BIPOC spaces, I sit down and shut up and listen. I try to learn by listening and reading, and I am grateful to my friends who are willing to teach me.

Thank you.

Police equity and 2SLGBTQIA+ support and protection

Hi Rachel!

I'm writing to get a better sense of your ideas about making Provo a more safe & just place. I was looking through your website and have a few questions that haven't been addressed:

-What makes you a better choice for Provo than Katrice MacKay?

-What are your plans for improving the equity within police enforcement? There have been calls to shift fiscal priority from the police to more localized community resources. What are your thoughts on these sorts of actions?

-What are your positions on the need to support & protect 2SLGBTQIA+ youth and adults? What role do you see the city council in taking up these issues?

Thanks for your time, I look forward to this election and hearing more about your hopes for the city.


Thanks for reaching out, ____.

First, I'd like to let you know that you don't have to choose between me and Katrice. Katrice is running city-wide, and I am running for the District 5 seat, so we are not in competition with each other. I'm looking forward to working with either Katrice or Aaron. I've known Aaron for at least 10 years as we have volunteered together on bicycle infrastructure concerns and other volunteer projects in the city. I don't know Katrice yet, but I've been impressed with how hard she's worked, and her willingness to learn. You can tell from the debates that she's really done her homework.

Like every police department in the country, ours needs scrutiny. For too long, we have put tasks on the police department that are not appropriate for them and that they are not trained or equipped to handle. They are not mental health professionals trained in crisis intervention, and it is both unfair and foolish to expect them to do that job well. It's got to be frustrating for them to be put under this scrutiny, especially if they feel they've been doing the best they can. But it is necessary. As far as race- and gender-based discrimination, we've got a long way to go. We are hampered by assuming that all is well in our community. If we assume that we're all happy and get along and treat each other fairly, we are disinclined to listen to people when they tell us that, no, they are not being treated fairly. They are being targeted. We're starting to see a cultural shift that opens us up to listening to these voices, but as long as Provo can think that this is a problem elsewhere and not here, we're not going to address it.

I volunteer most Tuesdays at the Family Justice Center where I work alongside social workers, victims advocates, child protective services, the housing authority, wasatch mental health, and workforce services. We need many more clinics like this. Expanding these resources--which actually work--and getting people access to them helps. These are the positive interventions that help us avoid calling the police in the first place. But most people don't know about all of these services. They do know about the police. So they call the agency they know, which is not necessarily the agency they need or the agency that is best equipped to help.

Our community is shifting rapidly on LGBTQIA+ issues. We are moving from tolerance to acceptance to celebration. About 10 years ago, Provo held its first Pride celebration in Memorial Park. It was a few popups and some bouncy houses for the kids. My family was there. And we've gone every year since then. And every year it has grown. At first we went because I wanted my kids to know this part of our community, to know that some people here won't judge them for loving their uncles. This was before my daughter told me she is transgender, and what was part of our extended family identity became an immediate family concern. I was so afraid for her, knowing that she was in this incredibly vulnerable and oft-maligned group. I wanted to protect her, and I didn't know the best way to protect and support her. I'm still working on being better. I am grateful for the support of my friends, for other parents of transgender kids that I could talk to, for Encircle for providing a safe space for my children and their friends. Information has gotten much better in the last 7 years since she came out to us. I've spent a lot of time pointing other parents who newly find themselves in this community to good resources, resources I wish I'd had. I helped my daughter through the legal process to change her name and gender marker on her birth certificate. And I fight my neighborhood TERFs, reminding them that their arguments are based on reckless fearmongering and do real and substantial harm to families like mine.

For how I think this will translate to city council, my priority at the moment is on housing. My daughter is 21 and a UVU student, but I am very worried about her finding a safe place to live outside of our home. The market pressures on housing already make it unaffordable. As a single student, she would likely live with other single students. In a community where single housing is divided by a very traditional notion of gender, where does a transgender person fit? BYU's recent announcement about its changes to the off-campus contracted housing program create an opportunity for real change to protect LGBTQ+ students and other single people who wish to live with roommates in the student-dense areas of the city. I believe my experience with landlord/tenant law (on both sides) qualify me to work for a good solution that protects human rights as well as property rights.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions. I'm happy to correspond more or to meet in person.

All the best,


Three primary reasons running for office?

This is from a series of questions sent to all candidates on the November ballot.

1. What are the 3 primary reasons you are running for your respective office?

a) I am running for City Council in my district because I feel called to do so. The idea has been nagging at me ever since then-Mayor Curtis asked me to consider running while I was the acting neighborhood chair for Maeser. I had never even considered such a thing before. But I really loved the work of being a neighborhood chair, the dual role of representing the interests of my neighbors and informing them of projects and how they could affect the outcome. It is only by doing both of those things: representing and educating, that I could effectively advocate for them. After all, if they didn’t know what was going on, they couldn’t assess threats or opportunities enough to form a relevant opinion. I was good as a neighborhood chair, engaged and responsive, and I think that will translate into being a good councilor. To be honest, I put this off for years, avoiding this particular responsibility by serving in other capacities. But everything has aligned for me to serve now: my family is supportive, my kids are old enough to encourage me (two of them are adults now, which is so hard for me to believe), and my firm is working with me so I can dedicate time to serving the city. I don’t have to wait until I retire.

b) I am running because the city needs me on the council. My voice, my perspective, my experience, my expertise. I’m not far removed from being a poor, hungry college student, from being a stay-at-home mom on an impossibly tight budget. I know how hard it is to get someone to listen to you when their status means they don't have to, when they can feel magnanimous by even letting you talk. I believe that our elected officials, especially at this local level, must be responsive or accountable. Provo needs councilors who are more interested in collaboration and accountability than authority. Because I know I don’t already have all the answers, I am willing to learn as others share their perspectives and information. This will inevitably lead to compromise and progress. I fully expect that people who already like me will not agree with all of my decisions, and because of that, I will weigh each choice carefully and explain my reasoning. That attitude and transparency is crucial for a growing city at an inflection point.

c) At the legal clinic, I work with anyone who comes in, including homeless people, undocumented immigrants caught in family law disputes, tenants taken advantage of with little recourse because they don’t understand the process and the law. I see families torn apart by abuse and addiction, and I am frustrated at how poorly we protect the most vulnerable among us. I want to help make lives better. Life is hard, and we are too often cruel to each other. Even so, we can help each other. That's what I want to do, and that's why I'm running for city council.

Three most important/critical things you'd like to accomplish/change in the next 4 years?

This is from a series of questions sent to all candidates on the November ballot.

2. What are the 3 most important/critical things you’d like to accomplish/change in the next 4 years?

a) Zoning and policy reform to make the city more functionally integrated and to address housing demand. We need more mixed uses like The Hut, the South End Market, and the Bike Collective in Joaquin. We need more accessory dwelling units: it’s good that the Council approved detached ADUs a couple of years ago, and now only require preliminary plans (not full plans with traffic studies) before considering zoning changes for specific developments. But it’s a slow nightmare to go through the permitting process.

One specific place where we can add new higher density housing close to transit is the old, burned-out single-family home on 262 E 700 N. With the current RC zone, that house can only be replaced with another single-family home. That makes zero sense, given the demand for housing so close to campus, and the location of that parcel on 700 N near the UVX stop, and that’s probably why this home has been boarded up and vacant for years. If we rezone Joaquin north of 500 N, properties like this one can be replaced with new housing that has appropriate parking.

Zoning reform is one step to increasing housing accessibility. For single people as well as families. BYU’s announcement of the change to its off-campus contracted housing policy will have a huge effect on the city that will extend beyond the neighborhoods immediately surrounding campus. This disruption is an opportunity to reevaluate and reset our city’s policies that affect our landlords and tenants. I have been a student tenant. I have had to rent out my home while our family was on sabbatical. And I am very concerned about safe and affordable housing for my young adult children who are students at BYU and UVU, especially my transgender daughter. As an attorney who has some experience with landlord/tenant law, I have a valuable legal perspective that augments my personal experience.

b) Mobility accessibility. We moved to downtown Provo precisely because here we knew we didn’t need a car. We knew we would be close enough to everything we need (elementary school, library, grocery stores, restaurants, shops, parks, and entertainment) that we could walk or bike everywhere. Since we moved here, we’ve lost our main neighborhood grocery store (Allens), but we still have the Mercado Cinco de Mayo and Dollar General for access to fresh produce and other groceries. UVX has gone in, which links our district to major shopping centers in Provo and Orem, two universities, and the Frontrunner station.

As the population in the city and county grow over the next few years, we’ve got to actively work to protect our ability to move around. If our population doubles, and with it our car traffic doubles, then our quality of life will take a hit as we are stuck in traffic, long commutes and smoggier air. Kids won’t be able to ride their bikes through the neighborhoods. We won’t have enough space to park all of our cars. That’s why forward-thinking measures like installing the UVX and connected bike infrastructure are so important. Non-car options need to be safe and convenient in order to be feasible. If it takes four times as long to ride the bus as to drive a car, people who have the option of driving will drive. If the route to work is completely unsafe for a bike, those employees won’t ride their bikes. We’ve made huge advances in the last 10 years, but we still have a long way to go to ensure that we have a variety of transportation options as our population grows.

Remember, not everyone has the option of driving a car. First, cars are expensive to own, maintain, and insure. There are a lot of families like my own that have only one car. Some cannot even afford that. Second, lots of people are not able to drive a car. There are lots of reasons: they may be too young. They may not have a driver’s license. They may not have the necessary visual acuity or reflexes to drive safely. They may be taking certain medications or other substances that prevent them from operating vehicles or heavy equipment. Or, like me, they may have had surgery on their right foot and not be able to operate the pedals.

As I’ve dealt with this injury over the course of the year, I have had several months where I haven’t been able to drive because of a boot or cast. Most of that time I was still able to ride my bike, so I could still get to work on my own. And some days I hobbled over to the bus stop, because there is a bus that is about a block and a half from my office on one end, and four blocks from my home on the other end. Now that I cannot put any weight on my foot, I am discovering the limits of knee scooters and crutches. The condition of sidewalks matters so much when you are unstable on your feet, or rely on wheels to help you around. The uneven and cracked sidewalks don’t pose a huge risk for people who are able to walk with good balance, but for people with vision or balance issues, or who require walkers, wheelchairs, or knee scooters, bad sidewalks are a real hazard. (I had a pretty good fall on Saturday when the wheel of my knee scooter caught on an edge and pitched me forward. Fortunately, no lasting damage, but, embarrassingly, it looked bad enough that a stranger came to check to make sure I was okay.)

In addition to good sidewalks, we need to maintain and expand our network of bike lanes and trails. The upgrades of the Provo River Trail are good, and long overdue: widening the underpass tunnels along the Provo River Trail, adding lights, fixing that old bizarre narrow fenced-in passage with right angles near the mobile home park. We need to have a clear sense of when a request for sidewalk repair or replacement will happen. What is the rotating schedule? How long do you have to wait? We need to dedicate funds to adding bike lanes identified in the master plan instead of only adding those as other projects are done. We also need to identify and protect access to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

c) Sustainable spending. We have to be transparent and responsible with how we spend taxpayer dollars. This doesn’t just mean spending as little as possible, however. In certain circumstances, it may be appropriate to defer maintenance for public assets, including city buildings and infrastructure. But consistently deferring maintenance creates an artificially low budget, and a distorted sense of how much it actually costs to maintain the city. For each necessary item that is deferred, from building repairs, sewer or water main maintenance, or sidewalk repairs, we need to state not only how much we save that year by putting this item off, but also how much it is going to cost us to do this repair in the future. The cost deferred is higher than the cost paid today. We’re feeling that now, with the recent utility rate increases to make up for years of artificially low rates that were insufficient to keep up with costs of maintaining and replacing old infrastructure. We certainly do not want to defer maintenance to the point that we experience catastrophic failure, which is much more expensive than regular on-going maintenance.

We do our taxpayers a disservice when we borrow against tomorrow’s taxes by putting off maintenance today. It is an opaque loan, and extremely shortsighted. Because I want Provo to be sustainable over the long term, I believe we have to be honest about the cost for the services we rely upon, and we need to pay for them as we go along, instead of saying we’ll pay later.

Opinion on President Oaks' talk on the Constitution in April 2021?

This is from a series of questions sent to all candidates on the November ballot.

An interjection: I am concerned that the third and fourth questions are not appropriate for a political candidate. I worry that these questions may inadvertently exclude many Provoans. After all, not all of us or our neighbors are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Accordingly, many of our residents do not know who President Oaks or Elder Holland are, nor would they recognize either man as an authority. Accordingly, I’ll respond to the content of President Oaks’ talk, but not comment on his authority. I’ll respond to Elder Holland’s talk with regard to how it affects people in Provo, not the Church at large.

3. What is your opinion of President Oaks’ talk on the Constitution last April?

I’ve studied constitutional law, although I am by no means a constitutional law scholar. I worked under Professor Cole Durham of the International Center for Law and Religious Studies reviewing federal cases that implicate the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment. I also worked under retired Justice Michael J. Wilkins and retired Judge Diane Wilkins to review European Union court decisions that could affect the Church and its members in the EU. I am grateful for the opportunity that I had to do a deep dive into the intersection of government and religion with these experienced and knowledgeable people.

I agree with the sentiment President Oaks quoted from J. Reuben Clark: “The Constitution was not ‘a fully grown document’… “’On the contrary, we believe it must grow and develop to meet the changing needs of an advancing world.” I believe this is absolutely crucial: the Constitution must remain a living document; if it is petrified, it will be too brittle to continue to serve our nation.

President Oaks then lists five principles within the United States Constitution that he sees as divinely inspired: 1) the sovereign power of the people exercised through their elected representatives; 2) the principle of federalism wherein powers not expressly delegated to the federal government are reserved to the States or to the people; 3) separation of federal powers into legislative, judicial, and executive branches that exercise checks on each other; 4) the “guarantees of individual rights and specific limits on government authority in the Bill of Rights,” especially those enumerated in the First Amendment; and 5) that “our loyalty is to the Constitution”, and “not to any office holder.”

I swore an oath the uphold the Constitution when, as a BYU Law student, I clerked at the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. So far as I’m concerned, there is no expiration on that oath: I am still bound by it.

Here is the oath:

“I, Rachel Whipple, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

5 U.S. Code § 3331. My oath is to the constitution, not to a person or a party. It was not to my supervisors at the DOJ or any other office holder. It was a rare privilege to work with other civil servants who had taken the same oath, whose priority was to the Constitution, to the law, and to justice. I was impressed by their impartiality in discharging their duties and their integrity.

President Oaks goes on to list some things he sees as threats to the Constitution, problems of application that he does not see as implicating the inspired nature of the document. My favorite line of this section is “The dignity and force of the Constitution is reduced by those who refer to it like a loyalty test or a political slogan.” This reminds me of the way the American flag was plastered on everything after 9/11. Not just t-shirts, but on things like disposable napkins. It felt so disrespectful to me to see the flag used this way. Similarly, I dislike when people appeal to the Constitution or any of the Amendments as an appeal to authority designed to shut down discussion or as a means of declaring sides. Usually, those who abuse the Constitution in such a way are not versed in either originalism or in the history of judicial interpretation.

Finally, President Oaks encourages his audience to engage civilly. Vote, run for office, participate in political parties. Tellingly, he states “On contested issues, we should seek to moderate and unify.” He also reassures church members that they can vote for candidates without approving of their entire platform, and states that “We [we is undefined: it may mean church leadership or church members or both] should ever assert that a faithful Latter-day Saint cannot belong to a particular party or vote for a particular candidate.” Members may prioritize issues differently from each other. These statements are likely meant to encourage church members to be more charitable to each other when it comes to political matters. It may also be meant to reassure citizens who are not church members that the Church does not require political homogeneity, a real matter of concern in the state of Utah, where about 60% of the population is LDS and 86% of the legislature is LDS.

These are all good reminders.

Opinion on Elder Holland's talk to BYU faculty and staff in August 2021?

This is from a series of questions sent to all candidates on the November ballot.

An interjection: I am concerned that the third and fourth questions are not appropriate for a political candidate. I worry that these questions may inadvertently exclude many Provoans. After all, not all of us or our neighbors are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Accordingly, many of our residents do not know who President Oaks or Elder Holland are, nor would they recognize either man as an authority. Accordingly, I’ll respond to the content of President Oaks’ talk, but not comment on his authority. I’ll respond to Elder Holland’s talk with regard to how it affects people in Provo, not the Church at large.

4. What is your opinion on Elder Holland’s talk to the BYU faculty and staff a few weeks ago?

I don’t think Elder Holland’s talk will have much long-term impact. Talks given to faculty at these types of meetings seldom do. Unfortunately, I think the wounds caused by parts of this talk will have a more lasting effect than its expressions of love. That’s because it’s often easier to remember a hurt, even a perceived hurt, than a kindness.

I don’t think Elder Holland intended this to be a hurtful talk, but it hurt many people. Similarly, I don’t think people in my district flying rainbow flags intend to be divisive; on the contrary, many people flying these flags see them as indicators of inclusion, but some people take offense. I believe Elder Holland had good intentions, that he intended to convey his love for BYU, its students and faculty. I believe he intended to rally the BYU community to a certain kind of conformity. Based on what I’ve seen of the mixed reception, not all of those intentions were realized. Even so, I don’t believe that this speech will cause more division within Provo. On the contrary, since the speech, I’ve seen a greater outpouring of love and support for our LGBTQIA+ community.

I spoke with one neighbor after the Joaquin neighborhood meeting that followed the speech. She was hurt by this talk, worried that Provo is not a safe place for her family. I cried with her in her hurt and sorrow. I also went to the Back 2 School Pride Night at Kiwanis Park, where I cried, this time with hope, to see such a huge outpouring of love and support for our LGBTQIA+ community. No one is going to mistake love and empathy for condoning and advocacy: the advocacy will be clear and unmistakable, and it will be motivated by faith and love.

One last note: Elder Holland does not make it clear what kind of advocacy he considers inappropriate. Given the LDS Church’s history of cooperating with LGBTQIA+ advocates to create the Utah Compromise, it appears that advocating the government to enact protections for vulnerable populations is appropriate. Perhaps he does not approve of advocating for the LDS Church or BYU to change its policies, a reading that would be consistent with the rest of this address. Accordingly, advocacy on the city and state level are not implicated by this talk.

For or against mandates?


Are you for or against mask mandates? Are you for or against a vaccine mandate? It is important for me to know exactly where you stand on these. This is a very big issue in the community and I feel like we deserve to know your position before we vote.





It is a big issue right now. The answers depends on a lot of factors. Who is doing the mandating? Under what authority? Are there reasonable exceptions, such as for sincerely held religious beliefs, and reasonable accommodations for those with health conditions that would contraindicate the proposed mandates?

The authority of the government to mandate vaccines and other health and safety measures (like designating smoke-free zones) is well established and has been upheld by the Supreme Court. For example, children attending public school are required to have a whole set of vaccinations, with accommodations made for personal beliefs and particular health considerations. Public schools also have dress codes that they enforce. Public safety departments (police, fire), national reserve, and military forces all have physical requirements for service. It makes sense that the government retains the ability to set health and safety standards, especially for those people providing or using the government services. This would include public schools, public transportation, military and government employees, common carriers, etc.

Private entities may require certain conditions for employment. For example, it is common for entities that send people overseas to require vaccinations (think LDS missionaries, study abroad programs, or peace corps). Private entities also have a great deal of discretion with regard to whom they do business. The classic example is "No shirt, no shoes, no service" or "We reserve the right to deny service to anyone." Based on this, I believe a private entity could require mask/vaccination for its employees or those who use its services.

The ability of the government to issue vaccination mandates is well-established and was not particularly controversial until COVID-19. Any such mandate should be consistent with the best available scientific knowledge. It would be foolhardy in this moment of extreme political division to attempt to strip the government of this tool that has proven to protect the health and safety of the country over several generations. When I was growing up, my friend's grandmother walked with a cane, crippled because of polio. That's not a problem we have to worry about anymore thanks to mandatory polio vaccinations.

I hope seeing the way I reason through these issues helps you in making your decision.

All the best,