Getting to know Kaysville Mayor Tamara TranAug 08, 2022 12:22PM ● By Cindi Mansell
When Tami Tran was adopted and moved from Seoul, Korea to the United States, she had no idea she would one day be the Mayor of “America’s Hometown.” She had no political aspirations, only dreams of success in America with her new adoptive family. She studied Political Science at BYU, loved journalism and debate and had aspirations of being a lawyer and serving on the Supreme Court.
While attending BYU, Tran met her husband and plans changed. She said she had always loved politics and public service and she and her husband (who migrated to the United States from Vietnam at 11 to be adopted by a local Bountiful family) proceeded to work to bring his birth parents and five siblings over from Vietnam to be reunited.
“Years later, I was working in development lending and really liked development and decided to serve on the Planning Commission,” she said. Her children were young and the Planning Commission took a great deal of time, so she did not serve another term.
The Trans and their two children resided for 17 years on the east side of Kaysville, then moved west to build a house. She said it was then she noticed the geographic division within the city and decided to run for City Council to “facilitate peace and unity, focus on common appreciated values and move forward” (Tran served a two-year term until elected as Mayor in 2021). During her tenure on the City Council, Tran said “I felt the urge to run for Mayor and that I could make a difference by continuing the momentum.” She filed her declaration to run and was elected last November; she hit the ground running on January 6, 2022.
Recently through DNA testing, Tran was able to get into contact with a biological cousin in South Korea. She emailed her but never received a response. Her son married a girl from South Korea who spoke Korean; Tran asked her to message the cousin in Korean and she responded. She said it was an incredible story of connecting the dots: the cousin had an aunt who got pregnant in Korea and put her up for adoption. Her father had gone into the U.S. Army to serve for three years and when he returned home, the two reconnected, married and had two boys.
Tran recently returned to her homeland to meet her birth mom (her father passed in 2016). She said she got to meet her two full brothers and it was “exciting to see the similarities.” Of the experience, Tran says she feels “only sweet sentiment for her birth parents and the sacrifice they made to give her a better life.” Tran’s adoptive family includes her parents, an adopted Korean sister, and three children of their own.
Tran said there are over 3.5 million residents in the city where her family lives in South Korea. She said to them, her being a mayor is very impressive and she is humbled and honored to serve the residents of Kaysville. She said she hoped to be “the kind of Mayor that people know they can approach with suggestions, information, and ideas for change” and success to her will mean that by the end of her term she will have left Kaysville better than when she found it.
Seven months into her term, Tran said “Davis County is changing and embracing different opportunities for people,” and “people are passionate because they care about their community.” She said “Kaysville has not changed at the core but is progressive and more diverse.” Projects in the works include adoption of the Main Street Plan and the updated General Plan, and potential plans for the Library Building (restoration/sale). Tran said budget, recession, truth in taxation, and the tax rate are all continually under consideration and review. She said “as a city you are continually thinking about recessionary planning or actions.” During the recently adopted FY 23-24 budget, the Mayor and Council determined not to conduct the Truth in Taxation process and raise taxes. She said they would need to consider where the economy is at and what next year will look like.
Other items of note are the recent RAMP tax approval and creation of the Ramp Tax Advisory Committee, newly appointed Planning Commission members, the Main Street Plan and the great momentum and coming change, such as a new ice cream store on Main Street, part of an effort to continue adding new family-friendly businesses to downtown. Tran speaks only positively of her experience in service so far and said she has lots of goals to accomplish. Area mayors have been welcoming and helpful and they have been able to learn together. She spoke highly of city manager Shayne Scott and city staff, stating they are “essential and create stability for a well managed, efficiently run city because as staff, they remain unchanged, even when the city council members or mayor change.”
Tran said she spends “lots of time at City Hall,” and tries to come in each morning. She said it is fun to see employees and be involved, but she still has other businesses to run (including a weekly Podcast production). She said she appreciates the council devotion and time spent, and said they try to make themselves accessible to the public. She said she likes policy, lawmaking, boundaries, and rules and she likes to be helpful, build consensus, and effect progress, but noted “you can get a lot more work time if you are nice; otherwise, you can’t be effective.” λ