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John Curtis (American politician)

John Ream Curtis (born May 10, 1960) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Utah's 3rd congressional district since 2017.[1][2] Currently a Republican, he previously served as the Mayor of Provo, Utah (2010-2017). On November 7, 2017, he won a special election to replace Jason Chaffetz in Congress, after Chaffetz resigned. He is known for his personal approach to government and his distinctive socks.[3][4]

John Curtis
John Curtis portrait 115th Congress (cropped1).jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Utah's 3rd district
Assumed office
November 13, 2017
Preceded byJason Chaffetz
44th Mayor of Provo
In office
January 5, 2010 – November 13, 2017
Preceded byLewis Billings
Succeeded byMichelle Kaufusi
Personal details
Born (1960-05-10) May 10, 1960 (age 59)
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (before 2000; 2006–present)
Other political
Democratic (2000–2006)
Sue Snarr (m. 1982)
EducationBrigham Young University (BS)
WebsiteHouse website

Early lifeEdit

John Curtis was born May 10, 1960 in Salt Lake City, Utah. His parents were Jesse Duckworth "Dee" Curtis (March 22, 1927 – June 16, 2015), and his mother Hazel Dawn Curtis (née Ream) (November 9, 1925 – May 15, 2016). They married in 1955.

Curtis attended high school at Skyline High School, where he met his future wife, Sue Snarr. He attended Brigham Young University and graduated with a degree in business management. He worked for OC Tanner and the Citizen Watch Company before taking a position as the COO of a Provo-based company, Action Target, in 2000.

Curtis ran for the Utah State Senate in 2000 as a Democrat against Curt Bramble, losing 33% to 66%.[5] From 2002 to 2003, Curtis served as vice chairman and chairman of the Utah County Democratic Party.[6][7]

Mayor of ProvoEdit

Curtis ran successfully for mayor of Provo City in 2009 defeating former legislator Stephen Clark with 53% of the vote and took office on January 5, 2010 on a platform of safety, prosperity, and unity.[8][9] In office he focused on economic development, revitalization of Downtown Provo, and getting a beach at Utah Lake. He touts a 2.95 percent decrease in property taxes, and he did it with an 8 percent reduction to the city budget. He launched clean air and recreation initiatives, preserved Rock Canyon, and launched a blog that's heavily read by residents.[3] He also assisted with the purchase of iProvo, Provo City's existing fiber internet network, by Google Fiber.[10]

Curtis was re-elected for a second four-year term in 2013 with 86.49% of the vote.[11][12] In November 2016, Curtis announced he would not seek re-election for the Mayorship of Provo.

During his last years in office, he averaged an approval rating of 93%.[13]


  • Community Hero Award (Silicon Slopes, 2017)[14]
  • Civic Innovator of the Year Award (UVU, Office of New Urban Mechanics, 2017)[15]
  • Outstanding Citizen Award (BYU, Office of Civic Engagement Leadership, 2017)[15]
  • 2017 Freedom Festival Grand Marshal[16]
  • Person of the Year (Utah Clean Air, 2017)[17]
  • Person of the Year Award (Utah Valley Magazine, 2017)[18]
  • Top Elected Official on Social Media (Government Social Media, 2015)[19]
  • The Star Award (SCERA Center for the Arts, 2015)[20]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

2017 electionEdit

Curtis's campaign photo

On May 25, 2017, Curtis announced his candidacy for that year's special election in Utah's 3rd congressional district to replace Jason Chaffetz, who resigned on June 30. On August 15, Curtis won the Republican nomination over fellow candidates Christopher Herrod and Tanner Ainge.[2] On November 7, 2017 Curtis won the election over Democrat Kathie Allen and took Chaffetz's vacated seat.


Curtis was sworn into office on November 13, 2017.

Town Hall MeetingsEdit

Since being elected to Congress, he's held more than 100 town hall meetings[21], including a “walking town hall” to the top of Mount Timpanogos.[22]

Bears Ears National MonumentEdit

On December 4, 2017, Curtis, along with fellow Utah representatives Rob Bishop, Chris Stewart and Mia Love, introduced a bill that would codify the Trump administration's reduction of Bears Ears National Monument by creating two new national monuments in the remaining areas defined by the president.[23]

On January 9, 2018, members of the Tribes of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition testified against the bill including Shaun Chapoose, a member of the Ute Indian Tribe and Utah Business Committee.[24]

Approval RatingEdit

On October 16, 2019, Utah Policy announced Curtis landed the second highest approval rating among Utah's four US Congress House members. According to the poll conducted by Utah Policy and Y2 Analytics, 45 percent of registered voters approved of his performance in the 3rd Congressional District.[25]


On June 13, 2018, Rep. John Curtis introduced H.R. 6088, the “Streamlining Permitting Efficiencies in Energy Development Act” or “SPEED Act”. The legislation proposes streamlining the oil and gas permitting process by allowing Bureau of Land Management to expedite approval for drilling activities that pose little or no environmental harm. The Mineral Leasing Act would be amended by establishing procedures where an operator may conduct drilling and production activities on available Federal land and Non-Federal land.[26][27] Community members criticized Curtis over this sponsorship, claiming it omits the required environmental impact analysis, and allows drilling on land without notifying the public or providing opportunity to comment.[28]

Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking ActEdit

On December 12, 2018 Curtis introduced H.R. 7271, the "Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking Act", the companion bill to Sen. Orrin Hatch's legislation. The bill creates a Public-Private Advisory Council to provide a direct line to federal government agencies to streamline unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles while empowering nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations in the fight against human trafficking.[29] The Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council will help fight human trafficking by:

  • Serving as a point of contact for federal agencies in coordination with nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) fighting human trafficking for input on programming and policies related to their efforts.
  • Consisting of eight to fourteen representatives from NGOs and nonprofit groups that have significant knowledge and experience in fighting human trafficking, or the rehabilitation and aftercare of human trafficking victims and survivors.
  • Formulating assessments and recommendations to ensure that the policy and programming efforts of the Federal government conform to the best practices in the field of combating human trafficking, and the rehabilitation and aftercare of victims.
  • Submitting a report to Congressional Committees with recommendations for continued improvement.

Government Shutdown Prevention ActEdit

On January 16, 2019, Rep. John Curtis introduced the Government Shutdown Prevention Act with Rep. Lloyd Smucker. The legislation aims to end political game playing and fix Congress’ dysfunctional budget process. If passed, the legislation would automatically continue government funding through a continuing resolution. The bill would implement a five percent spending penalty on the day the continuing resolution begins. Federal spending would be reduced by two percent 60 days after the first day of the fiscal year and by an additional two percent each subsequent 60-day period.[30] Curtis said, "The American people expect Congress to do its most basic job: pass a budget and fund the government. If we can’t, then we shouldn’t get paid." Curtis asked the Clerk of the House to withhold his pay until the government is fully funded. He believes that both Republicans and Democrats should be held accountable to find common ground to solve the funding impasse.[31]

Transparency in Student Lending ActEdit

On January 28, 2019 Curtis introduced the Transparency in Student Lending Act, legislation that would improve the information provided to students and families taking on federal loans to finance higher education. The bill would require the disclosure of the annual percentage rate (APR) for federal student loans before disbursement.  The APR assists borrowers by showing the true cost of a loan, helping students and their families make more informed financial decisions. Curtis said. “As the primary provider of the vast majority of student loans and education financing options, the federal government should provide a transparent and full accounting of associated costs and fees for borrowers. I represent the youngest Congressional district in the country with an average age of 26 years old; these students must be equipped to make the right decisions for their families and their futures.”[32]

Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority ActEdit

On February 1, 2019 Curtis introduced the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019. The bill would require the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. A companion bill was also introduced in the Senate.[33] Curtis said the trade war is mostly hurting small businesses and that he hears from his constituents almost daily about how it’s impacted them. “..and have heard for months almost daily, if not daily, weekly from businesses its hurting and unfortunately it’s having a disproportionate impact on small businesses. And, 99 percent of the businesses in my district are small businesses. We need to quickly resolve this because they’re the ones who are least able to sustain it. This bill ensures their priorities will be incorporated.” [34]

Natural Resources Management ActEdit

On March 11, 2019, the Natural Resources Management Act, considered to be a highly significant public lands bill, was signed into law. The act consists of about 100 bills joined into one, including two proposals carried by Curtis.[35]

On February 26, 2019 Curtis spoke on the house floor, advocating for the Natural Resources Management Act. "The Emery County bill has been a locally driven effort and will bring long-term certainty to the area through various designations and expanding Goblin Valley State Park for better management," Curtis said. "It will also generate millions of dollars to help Utah’s school children through school trust land exchanges." The U.S. House passed the most sweeping public lands bill in decades, establishing hundreds of thousands of acres of wilderness across the nation, including a vast swath of Utah, and allowing the creation of a new national monument.[36]

The Natural Resources Management Act is a comprehensive, bipartisan public lands package that comprises over 100 individual bills — including ten locally-driven pieces of legislation that directly impact Utah. With the leadership of Curtis and collaboration between county commissioners, environmental groups, ranchers, recreationists and a host of others, these bills were carefully crafted to meet the needs of Utahns while protecting our cherished lands.[37]

In May 2018, Curtis drew criticism after introducing the Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018. Opponents argued the bill omitted approximately 900,000 acres of wilderness in its proposed designation, including Labyrinth Canyon and Muddy Creek. Conservation groups accused Curtis of removing the existing Wilderness Study Area protection to facilitate coal mining.[38] One of these opponents, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) ultimately supported the legislation.[39][40][41]

On June 25, 2018 it was announced that the congressional subcommittee overstated support that environmental groups had for the Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018. An aide to Curtis stated there was a mix-up and the record would be corrected. Seven environmental organizations were named as being in support of the legislation in a June 18 background memo ahead of a hearing before the Federal Lands Subcommittee. But just one of the groups named said it was accurate to call them "supporters".[42]

Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants ActEdit

On July 10, 2019 Curtis spoke on the House floor to advocate for HR 1044, Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019, legislation that he co-authored to eliminate the per-country caps for employment based visas and shift to a first come, first served process. Curtis, whose district is home to several high-tech businesses, said he regularly hears from leaders of those company's that they "do not have enough high-skilled workers … and demand continues to outstrip supply."[43] Curtis said that this "legislation will create a first-come, first-serve system providing certainty to workers and families and enabling US companies to flourish and compete in a global economy as they hire the brightest people to create products, services, and jobs—regardless of where they were born.”services, and jobs - regardless of where they were born." After he spoke, the legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support 365-65.[44]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Curtis is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership[46] and the Congressional Western Caucus.[47]

House Foreign Affairs CommitteeEdit

Curtis participated in a panel discussion at a U.S. Global Leadership Coalition forum on April 5, 2019 highlighting the importance of American diplomacy and foreign aid in bolstering U.S. national security and creating economic opportunities for Utah businesses. "As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I am committed to supporting the vital U.S. government programs that protect our nation's interests abroad," he said. "Our global ties help to open new markets for U.S. businesses and create jobs for Americans, while U.S. diplomats and development workers overseas are preventing conflicts and wiping out diseases before they reach our borders."[48]

House Natural Resources CommitteeEdit

On February 13, 2019 Curtis invited the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee to join the Clean Air Challenge and find common ground to address Utah's and the country's environmental issues. Curtis then introduced the Provo Clean Air Toolkit, which contains strategies that Utahns can use to improve the quality on personal levels and businesses can use on larger scales. He then asked the subcommittee to take the "Provo Clean Air Challenge Pledge" with him and the rest of Utah to pass along the clean-air initiative.[49]

Personal and professional lifeEdit

Curtis is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a two-year mission in Taiwan. He and wife Sue have six children together.

Through his father, he is a descendant of Brigham Young. His great-uncle is LeGrand R. Curtis, and his first cousin once removed is LeGrand R. Curtis Jr., a current General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also serving as Church Historian.

He has also served on a number of community and advisory boards including the Provo/Orem Chamber of Commerce (now Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce), the Mountain Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Utah National Parks Council of the Boys Scouts of America, and the Utah Valley Healthcare Foundation.

He has two older sisters, Camille and Kristine, and a younger brother, Kitt.


Controversy over sexual misconduct by Provo police chiefEdit

On March 20, 2018, five women filed a lawsuit claiming the city of Provo and Curtis (in his role as the former mayor) failed to take action to protect them from alleged sexual harassment and assault by former police chief John King, despite allegations of misconduct in 2015 and 2016.[50] Plaintiffs accused King of a broad range of sexual misconduct, including staring at their breasts, making inappropriate comments, uninvited touching, groping and, in one case, rape.[51]

City Council members told the Deseret News that they held a closed-door meeting about King's conduct in late 2015 or early 2016. The lawsuit alleged that Curtis, then Provo's mayor, chilled reporting by telling police department supervisors in fall 2014 that “he did not want to receive any more complaints about Chief King.” The complaint read, "Chief King was going to remain chief of the department as long as Curtis was in office and there was nothing the supervisors could do about it”.[52] Curtis said the meeting was mischaracterized, that he had called the meeting to discuss a new, unpopular “beat program” that King had implemented in the Police Department. He said there was also concern in the department that King would not stay in Provo long because his wife did not move to Utah with him. “That was absolutely all,” Curtis said. “Never, under any circumstances, would I infer that they were expected to follow him if anything was not appropriate, let alone sexual harassment.”[53] Councilman Gary Winterton confirmed the council had such a discussion about King, with the chief present, but he said he could not say much about the meeting because it was a closed session. Winterton said he could not say what type of administrative action, if any, was taken. The lawsuit stated the meeting did not result in any discipline of King.[54]

In March 2017, King resigned after the rape allegation, making his exit at the request of Curtis, even though Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill had declined to bring charges.[51] In an email obtained by the Deseret News through a records request, King sent Curtis a March 17 email thanking him for his support: “You did your best to protect me at the press conference,” he said. “I am deeply sorry for putting you in this terrible position.”[52]

On March 23, 2018 Curtis clarified that as Provo's mayor, he heard three, not just two complaints of inappropriate sexual conduct against John King. The first time, Curtis said, he warned King that even if his alleged actions had been misinterpreted, the former police chief shouldn't put himself in positions where his actions could be misinterpreted. The second time, he ordered King to retake sexual harassment training, and reiterated that he should not go past a certain point while visiting women at the department's dispatch center. The third time, after a student volunteer accused King of rape in early 2017, Curtis asked for King's resignation.[55]

In response Curtis stated, “One of the things I’m learning, is what women expect is more than checking the boxes, legally,” he said. “They need a lot of emotional support and understanding. And we don’t talk a lot about that portion of what do you do when these things happen. So, in a way, if you think about this, I’m seeing, like, ‘OK, my primary responsibility is to get this into the right hands.’ I read her comments about how what I did made her feel, and it was clear to me that she expected more from me than just getting it into the right hands. Lesson learned."[55]

Electoral HistoryEdit

Republican Convention
Candidate First ballot Pct. Second ballot Pct. Third ballot Pct. Fourth ballot Pct. Fifth ballot Pct.
Christopher Herrod 200 25.64% 238 31.23% 264 34.87% 337 44.81% 415 55.11%
Deidre Henderson 202 25.90% 225 29.53% 271 35.80% 301 40.03% 338 44.89%
Margaret Dayton 145 18.59% 140 18.37% 113 14.93% 68 9.04% Eliminated
Stewart Peay 74 9.49% 47 6.17% 45 5.94% 27 3.59% Eliminated
John Curtis 71 9.10% 52 6.82% 35 4.62% 19 2.53% Eliminated
Damian Kidd 48 6.15% 39 5.12% 29 3.83% Eliminated
Brad Daw 19 2.44% 12 1.57% Eliminated
Paul Fife 15 1.92% 9 1.18% Eliminated
Debbie Aldrich 4 0.51% Eliminated
Shayne Row 2 0.26% Eliminated
Keith Kuder 0 0.00% Eliminated
Utah's 3rd congressional district special election Republican primary (2017)[56]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Curtis 31,481 43.28%
Republican Chris Herrod 23,686 32.57%
Republican Tanner Ainge 17,565 24.15%
Total votes 72,732 100.00%
Utah's 3rd congressional district special election, 2017[57]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Curtis 85,739 58.03%
Democratic Kathie Allen 37,778 25.57%
United Utah Jim Bennett 13,745 9.30%
Independent Sean Whalen 4,550 3.08%
Libertarian Joe Buchman 3,643 2.47%
Independent American Jason Christensen 2,286 1.55%
Write-in Brendan Phillips
Write-in Russell Paul Roesler
Total votes 147,741 100.00%
Republican hold
Republican primary results[58]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Curtis (incumbent) 66,404 73.32
Republican Chris Herrod 24,158 26.68
Total votes 90,562 100.0
Utah's 3rd congressional district, 2018
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Curtis (incumbent) 174,856 67.5
Democratic James Singer 70,686 27.3
Independent American Gregory Duerden 6,686 2.6
United Utah Timothy Zeidner 6,630 2.6
Total votes 258,858 100.0
Republican hold


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  46. ^ "Members". Republican Main Street Partnership. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  47. ^ "Members". Congressional Western Caucus. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
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  57. ^ "Utah Election Preliminary Results". State of Utah. Retrieved December 23, 2017.
  58. ^ "Utah Election Preliminary Results". State of Utah. Retrieved July 12, 2018.

External linksEdit