Councilman Mike Southwick and Councilwoman Katie Koivisto participated in their final Lehi City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 12, after both councilors chose not to run for re-election earlier this year. Southwick is concluding his third term on the City’s governing body, and Koivisto is finishing her first.
The Lehi Free Press asked the outgoing councilors their final thoughts as they finished their terms.
Lehi Free Press: What was your favorite thing about serving on the City Council?
Mike Southwick said, “There were many favorite things about serving on the City Council, like working with the two different Mayors and several City Council members, getting to know and working with the City staff, and working with the board of the Hutchings Museum. I also had the opportunity to work with the Historical Society and Archives.”
“Heritage Days was always a great opportunity to focus on Lehi’s history or past businesses in our City or some of our older homes. The best part of Heritage Days was the opportunity to spotlight couples or Individuals for the service they have given to Lehi. There are so many great people in Lehi who have served countless hours. So, serving with the Historical Society and Archives was one of many great opportunities to serve on the City Council.”
Katie Koivisto said, “I absolutely loved meeting residents and helping them navigate city codes and laws. I also loved holding developers accountable for responsible development within Lehi City.”
LFP: What was a project or vote you’re most proud of?
Southwick: “There were a lot of projects that Mayors, Council members and City staff all worked on together. One of those projects was the Police Station on First East. It was patterned after the old Broadbent building, and the brick from the Broadbent building was salvaged and used in what is called the Broadbent Room, which created a space where citizens could come for meetings and parties. It is a way to remember the old Broadbent store that once stood where the Broadbent Room and Police Station stand today.”
Koivisto: “A project that I was most proud of was working with City staff on creating and finalizing the new general plan for Lehi City. There were so many man-hours put into its creation by City staff, and I was humbled to participate in the process. My campaign platform in 2019 encompassed the idea of encouraging responsible development by developers within the City (and putting a limit on the amount of high density the City of Lehi wanted to support.) During one council meeting, I remember discussing the number of residents/people the City of Lehi wanted to incorporate over the years. The number 300,000 (residents) was brought up by city staff during one meeting, and I remember being taken aback. I voiced my concern and requested that city staff cut that number in half to 150,000 to possibly have fewer (between 100,000- 130,000 residents.)
The City Council agreed with my idea, and City staff worked hard to re-arrange the zoning within the general plan layout. That moment created a paradigm shift for me. What I considered a small suggestion (that I thought would ultimately be shot down) changed the trajectory of a city’s general plan. It was a sobering experience that I do not take for granted, and I’m grateful to have been a part of the process.”
LFP: What was the most challenging thing about serving the Community?
Southwick: “It was always challenging to make a motion to vote for or against a heated item on the agenda. You knew that you could not make everyone happy with the decision you had to make. You just had to weigh out all the options and vote for what you felt was the best solution, knowing there would always be someone that did not agree with your decision.”
Koivisto: “The most challenging part about serving the City as a council member is the mental toll and load associated with it. Many times, I shed tears of frustration because of disagreements with fellow council members. There were also times when I shed tears of joy because I was able to help a resident navigate a city code or law that allowed them a positive paradigm shift. It can be very taxing on the heart and mind to experience yo-yo-ing emotions from week to week. I am a very empathic person, and I’ve learned over the past four years that I can agree to disagree, and I don’t have to hold on to any emotions (be they good or bad) if I don’t want to. I owe that understating to my amazing husband, Jyri. I have never heard Jyri say a negative thing about anyone (me included.) He is always giving people the benefit of the doubt and has always encouraged me to find the good in anyone I am serving or even those I have had a hard time with politically.
Before each council meeting, Jyri would write me an encouraging letter (or text) letting me know I was loved and needed. After every council meeting (some ending as late as 2 a.m.), he would be waiting awake for me with a plate of cookies. In the four years I served, he never missed a pre-council encouragement letter/text, and (more importantly) he never missed a plate of cookies.”