Guest opinion: Committed to Ogden and all its people
I cannot recall my childhood in much detail. Of course, I have scattered memories that range in importance and clarity, but generally speaking, the reality is that my childhood was rough, to say the least.
For example, I can vividly recall the night I walked out of my childhood day care in the cold and dark winter air. I remember hopping into the back of my mom’s run-down silver Ford Taurus only to sit next to a white copy-paper box filled with tchotchkes and my award-winning Arbor Day coloring page I gifted my mom in the fourth grade sitting on top, an unfamiliar and perplexing passenger to my 9-year-old self.
On this unforgettable night, a single mother solely responsible for four young children had been laid off without warning or cause. Even as a 9-year-old child who was all too familiar with financial desolation and struggle, the presence of this white box raised the already brutal stakes for our little family even higher. I can still recall how my body and mind felt at that moment as the indescribable pain and worry emanating from my mother seeped into my small body. We drove in silence for what felt like a lifetime without a single word spoken.
I tell this story because it’s not hyperbole for me to say that people like me aren’t meant to run for public office. In fact, people who grew up like me are statistically more likely to not graduate from high school, be a victim of partner violence, remain stratified in impoverished economic circumstances and struggle, broadly speaking, with access to quality housing, food and educational opportunities.
So, today I sit in my 133-year-old historic home in the heart of our great city of Ogden in sincere and humble gratitude for the countless ways in which our city has shown up for me.
I want to share with you just a few commitments that will remain true for me, regardless of the outcome of this election on Nov. 21.
First: Building community requires consistent and contagious courage.
We must continue our efforts to consistently build community in and throughout Ogden City in ways that are visible and inspire action from others, especially when the issues we are engaged in are high-stakes and have very real impacts on the lives of our residents. In my years of experience in public service, I have countless examples of the ripples created in our community that have propelled positive change of varying scale and impact. My story is just one of those examples. I believe that great things happen in Ogden when people come together and it’s exactly why, as your mayor,I commit to putting the community back at the center of our local government.
Second: Creating connections changes lives for the better.
Throughout this campaign, almost every conversation I have had demonstrates the ways in which each and every Ogdenite cares for those “in their own backyard.” We live in a city that gives more charitable dollars per capita than any other metropolitan area in the country. Care and creating connections with our neighbors are not only essential for any thriving city, but they are traits inherent to Ogden City and traits that will endure well into our future.
Third: Preserving and protecting the character of our city starts and ends with you.
In our nearly yearlong public campaign for Ogden City mayor, I have met the most incredible people. From Fred, a 93-year-old retired aerospace engineer whose 40-year career was investigating Air Force crashes around the world. To Sharon, a grieving mother whose son died from a fentanyl-laced dose of heroin seven years ago and who since has been leading in our community on the topic of opioid use as a volunteer dedicated to this issue. These Ogdenites and their stories, and the thousands of others I have learned from, should be at the center of every decision made here. This defines our character.
Running for Ogden City mayor with so many Ogdenites standing beside me throughout the last 11 months has been the honor of a lifetime. Ogden City and the Ogdenites that fuel this city with our ideas and passion have always been there for me in my journey to build a family, career, home and, ultimately, a community. The challenges in our community today, and the challenges on the horizon, will not be solved easily.
In my campaign launch speech, I shared the words of Ady Barkan, a disability justice leader who recently passed away from complications related to ALS. Ady said, “Speaking alone, my voice is weak. But when we come together, our voices echo so loud.” Sitting in the backseat all those years ago with my siblings, mom and the tremendous weight of that white box, my voice was weak. In the decades that followed, my voice has grown stronger and louder because of our community who consistently share our message of getting back to the basics of good local government by putting people at the center, where we belong.
Regardless of the outcome of this election, our message continues to “echo so loud.” For that, I thank you and close this essay earnestly requesting your vote for Ogden City mayor on Nov. 21. Please visit my website TaylorForOgden.com for more information on how to vote, who I am and what our plan is for Ogden City, or call 801-332-9871 to speak with me directly. Thank you for your voice, your support and for your presence in this community.
Taylor Knuth is a candidate for Ogden City Mayor.