Mayor Mia Love of Saratoga Springs, Utah is running for Congress in her state’s newly created 4th District. A graduate of the University of Hartford with a degree in fine arts, Mayor Love also spent two terms in city council.
As a staunch defender of the Constitution and supporter of limited government, Mayor Love’s principled message was heard throughout the country during her speech to the Republican Convention in Tampa, FL.
Matt Naugle: How did you become a conservative?
Mia Love: Our country was founded on the conservative principles of fiscal discipline and small government. I watched as my parents achieved the American dream through the power of those founding principles. I observed as these conservative practices played out in the lives of my parents and came to believe in them and to trust them.
These beliefs and conservative principles were reaffirmed as I married an incredibly self-sufficient, hard-working husband who took responsibility for himself and his family. I have continued to believe in those conservative principles and believe that they are what can bring us back to a strong America.
MN: Your parents were Haitian immigrants. What did you learn from your parents?
ML: I learned that we are not entitled to anything we have not paid for, worked for or earned. I learned that a hand-up is better than a handout and that when tough times come you need to look within, not to Washington.
My parents came to this country with $10 in their pocket. They worked hard to earn a living. My father would, at times, take on second jobs cleaning toilets to pay for school for me and my siblings. On the day of my college orientation, my father said something that became a real motto for my life. He said, “Mia, your mother have worked hard to provide for you. I never took a handout. You will not be a burden to society. You will give back.”
I have spent my life striving to follow this council and this congressional race is a big part of what I am doing to help society and give back to the country that has provided me and my family so much.
MN: I’ve campaigned for my friend Sec. Ken Blackwell in Ohio and I’ve witnessed how challenging it is to be a conservative who is also black. If you win, you will be the first black female Republican in Congressional history. Are people surprised to hear your views, and are you the only black conservative Mormon in America?
ML: I think most people are relieved to hear how I stand on today’s issues. But these are not issues of race, religion, gender, or social status. American issues are not discriminatory – they affect us all. American principles are American principles. There is no black or white when it comes down to what really matters. What I talk about is the truth and the truth is resonating in the hearts of the American people. I am absolutely not the only black conservative Mormon in America.
MN: What was it like to speak at the RNC convention in Tampa? Are you surprised by the success of your post-convention “money bomb?”
ML: It was an honor to raise Utah’s voice on principles that matter and take on a President who is clearly leading America into decline. We have received such a positive response as people realize that the principles I stand for are principles worth fighting for. Limited government, fiscal discipline and personal responsibility are ringing true to Americans and they are realizing how important it is to be involved in this 2012 election.
I am not surprised by our success following convention; I am encouraged, honored and deeply humbled. Americans are awake and they know it is time to take a stand. They know we are not better off than we were four years ago and our citizens are ready to get involved in making changes in our country. People are ready to engage and make sure that the America we leave to our children is better and brighter than the one we have received.
MN: I read on Ericka Anderson’s blog that you are an avid runner. How did you get started and when is your next race?
My next race is now and it ends November 7th.
Honestly, I used to hate running, but about 8 years ago I decided I really wanted to take care of myself and my body. I started setting goals and found so much satisfaction in being able to reach those goals and then raise the bar and aim higher. After I ran my first 5k race, I set a goal to run a 10k, then a half marathon. It has been so rewarding. I am a very goal oriented person so whenever I set and reach those goals, I get excited for whatever challenge is next.
MN: How have you applied conservative principles as a city councilwoman and Mayor of Saratoga Springs, UT?
ML: As the mayor of a small town in Utah, facing its own fiscal cliff, we put limited government, fiscal discipline and personal responsibility first in order to create an amazing community that could last. I have also seen that facing challenging choices head-on inspires our citizens to get involved, engage in meaningful dialogue, rally around shared values, do things differently and change the way government works. By controlling spending and inspiring the people of Saratoga Springs to be independent and self-reliant, we have built a strong community, received the highest possible bond rating, and successfully grown from a town of 1,000 residents to a city of 17,000 residents.
MN: What current member of Congress in the House or Senate do you most admire?
ML: There are so many good, effective members of Congress that I look up to. Each one has unique skills and talents to be admired. There is so much conservative talent in Congress and I look forward to joining the team. I try to learn from everyone I interact with and look forward to learning from those in the House and Senate.
MN: How does the Republican Party attract more black voters?
ML: The GOP, the party of emancipation, has had problems with the black vote ever since Sen. Barry Goldwater voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
The truth is that the President’s policies have made minorities and the most vulnerable in society more desperate and dependent on government, less self-reliant, less upwardly mobile and ultimately less free. But as I mentioned before, we should really be talking about the issues as American issues.
The gas pump, which takes more and more of my money to fill my tank, never asks my race and the grocery store register doesn’t ask my gender before posting an ever increasing total for my family’s food. The big issues facing most families and communities such as jobs, the economy and the national debt are not based solely on race. Rhetoric which inserts race as a dividing issue for our citizens prevents Americans from uniting to solve real problems.
I do believe conservatives can do a better job of sharing the principles we stand for and the policies we put forward to implement them. With a 24-7 news cycle we have become a nation of sound-bite labels, which is not helpful. It is time for serious, straight-forward dialogue with the American people.
MN: What federal agencies should we reduce or eliminate?
ML: Before charting a course it is always vital to know exactly where you are. (Like the map at the local mall showing where the different stores are – the most important part of the map is the little dot which says, “You are here!”) We can’t chart a course unless we really know where we are. It is going to be a process, not an event, to do an audit to determine which agencies are really being effective in helping our country.
Reducing or eliminating agencies can’t be done in an instant and in some cases will require a transition path. I often say that limited government doesn’t mean every service or program is eliminated. Often it is just asking who should be providing it – whether that it should be the federal government, state and local government or the private sector. We have been wrongly conditioned that whenever there is a problem we need to look to Washington – that is wrong thinking in my view. One example that comes to mind is the Department of Education. We know education is best handled at the state and local level. The most important thing is engaging in an honest evaluation and discussion of what is the proper role of government.
MN: What do you think of Michelle Obama?
ML: Michelle Obama seems like a very nice person, and I know she takes her role as First Lady very seriously. I respect her role, and I respect the office her husband holds. However, I do not agree with the policies being implemented. I believe Barack Obama’s policies have set this country in the wrong direction and believe we need a change in the White House.
MN: What is your favorite book?
So many great books have influenced me through the years and I have so many favorites it is hard to pick just one. I have actually come to really enjoy many of the books I read before I let my children ream them. Personally, when I read A Thousand Splendid Suns it touched a cord of gratitude within me. The story really made me appreciate, especially as a woman, the freedoms we have in America. We can walk outside on our own and make choices for ourselves. We should all be very grateful and ready to fight for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
MN: Your favorite movie?
ML: We love watching movies in my family so my current movie viewing is centered on my children’s favorites. Recently we watched The Avengers we all loved it.
MN: Final words of wisdom from Mayor Love?
ML: The America I know is great, not because government made it great, but because it provides the opportunity for ordinary people to realize their potential and do extraordinary things.
As I said earlier, my parents taught me to work and learn and strive for the best so that I wouldn’t be a burden to society and so that I could give back. My greatest fear as a parent, and a driving force in my run for congress, is that my children or grandchildren will someday say, “I did everything you taught me but in the end, America was too big a burden on me.” A failing economy, deficit spending and national debt are hanging as unbearable burdens on our children. We must do everything possible to change course today.