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Sunday, September 23, 2012

From Utah, with Love

George Will
SALT LAKE CITY — A specter is haunting the Congressional Black Caucus, the specter of integration. It is discomforting enough that the now 43-member CBC has included a Republican since 2011, when Florida’s Allen West became the first Republican to join the CBC since 1997. South Carolina’s Tim Scott, an African-American, also came to Congress in 2011 but declined to join.

And soon a second might move in. There goes the neighborhood.

Mia Love, 37, is running against incumbent Democrat Jim Matheson, 52, in a district created when the 2010 census gave a fourth representative to this booming state — imagine Utah’s growth if the federal government did not own 58 percent of the land.

Love is black but not African-American. She was born in Brooklyn in 1975 to Haitian immigrants who arrived with $10. On her father’s wages as a janitor and a factory worker and her mother’s as a housekeeper, she got through the University of Hartford. In Connecticut, she met her husband — he is a Mormon, as she now is and 62 percent of Utahans are.

Fourteen years ago, they moved to this state, where blacks were about 1 percent of the population before Love arrived and had three children. In 2009, she was elected mayor of Saratoga Springs, a suburb of 18,000 that grew 1,700 percent between its incorporation in 1997 and the housing crash in 2008, after which Mayor Love governed like this: When constituents said they needed a library, she found $10,000 and suggested volunteers do the rest: “I intended to see if they really wanted a library.” They have one.

Read the full column

Mia Love, mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah

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