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The City Journals

‘I love this job…but it could be 24/7’ Overson says of her first year as mayor

Jan 21, 2019 02:58PM ● By Carl Fauver

Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson says she has learned a lot since this photo was taken, the night she was elected in November 2017. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Kristie Overson has been involved in Taylorsville city government for many years, as a planning commissioner, a city councilwoman and now mayor. She says she enjoys serving the community  but does have to be cautious not to let it overwhelm her.

“I love being mayor,” Overson said early in 2019, after one full year on the job. “I’m not exactly sure what my expectations were. But I have enjoyed it, although it is very time consuming. It could easily be 24/7 if I let it. So far, though, it has been great.”

Asked to assess her first year in office, Overson said it has mostly been a success. And despite our hi-tech world — where we can obtain everything from a car to a hamburger, without any human interaction — Overson believes her most important priority has been to build personal relationships.

“I have gotten to know other mayors in the Salt Lake Valley, as well as legislators, business leaders, members of the county council and many other people,” Overson said. “It’s important to sit down with other people and compare notes. The more we collaborate and coordinate, the better we can accomplish things.”

Overson said Taylorsville taxpayers are also better served through this kind of collaboration.

“I have been able to sit down with certain mayors to discuss valleywide issues, westside problems or mid-valley concerns,” she said. “Then those groups can collaborate together to work on ways of obtaining grant money, for instance, to help address needs. Sometimes as mayors we might want to be territorial—to have our city be ‘the best.’ But I have found we are able to get the most done, working together.”

Overson’s relationship building has also extended to individual Taylorsville residents, through a Thursday afternoon program she initiated, called “The Mayor is in.”

“As I campaigned for this position, I knocked on a lot of doors and met a lot of people who often said they felt like they had no real access to city government,” Overson said. “I was determined to keep that connection going. I am proud I’ve been able to keep Thursday afternoons (2 to 4 p.m.) open for anyone to drop in and discuss any issue on their mind. I have had as many as 10 people visit on a day, and I have also had no one show up. It’s important residents know they can come discuss concerns without an appointment.”

“A couple of my constituents have met with the mayor on Thursdays and have told me they appreciate the access to city government,” Councilman Brad Christopherson said. “I think it is a great policy she has started.”

Additionally, during her first year in office, Overson led the charge to return a paid position to city government which had been cut and eventually eliminated during the recession of a decade ago. She felt it was important to restore Taylorsville City’s presence on Utah’s Capitol Hill during the state legislative session through a lobbyist. John Hiskey was contracted by the city late last summer.

“I am so appreciative of the city council and the working relationship we have developed,” Overson said. “They supported my idea to re-establish funding for a lobbyist, and I think we found a good one in (Hiskey). Again, it is all about building relationships, which he is good at. Our presence (during the state legislature) will help us find more funding opportunities and additional resources for city projects.”

Also, in the theme of relationship building, Overson is happy to have established special roundtable meetings where stakeholders can share ideas and sort through issues.

“We have had two of our priorities meetings so far, and we may have even more (in 2019),” Overson said. “The meetings allow city council members, city department heads, key staff members and me to all talk together to better understand issues we may face. These strategy meetings allow all of the city’s stakeholders to share ideas together.”

Another thing the mayor has been determined to take advantage of has been her allotted time on the bimonthly city council meeting agenda for her “Mayor’s Report.”

“Each one of those is kind of a short ‘state of the city’ address, so I have tried to be thorough,” she said. “If they are going to allot me the time, I want to make sure the council — and those attending the meeting — are aware of what my office has been working on.”

“I think Mayor Overson has been doing great and is a strong ambassador for the city,” Christopherson said. “She has really rolled up her sleeves. She’s engaged, thoughtful, involved and gets around to a lot of meetings throughout the county.”

Councilman Dan Armstrong, who was elected by the body as its chairman last month, also added, “(Mayor Overson) has done a good job. She is conscientious, diligent and a hard worker. I would never want any of our mayors to fail, and she certainly is not.”

As for 2019, Overson said she has no particular large plans or goals, other than to continue to maintain relationships and to represent constituents, though perhaps not 24/7.