Five of six city council candidates and a write-in contender discussed their platforms on city spending, senior services and economic development with Maricopa Chamber of Commerce members Thursday.
The chamber’s monthly breakfast served as the third public debate for council candidates. A fee was required for entrance, and approximately 20 people attended.
Linette Caroselli, incumbent Vincent Manfredi, Bob Marsh, Cynthia Morgan, Rich Vitiello and write-in Leon Potter attended. Candidates Paige Richie and Henry Wade were not in attendance.
Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith, a chamber member, asked candidates what they would do with $500,000 of hypothetical funds available in the city council budget.
Manfredi and Marsh said they’d fund a senior center. Also on Marsh’s budget wishlist is marketing for the city, as was Vitiello’s.
Caroselli said she would fund a veterans center, after-school programs and loans for small businesses.
Saving the additional funds for a rainy day was Potter’s preference.
Morgan said she would use the money to create an animal shelter and community center.
Adam Saks, UltraStar Multi-tainment Center general manager and former chamber board member, asked candidates how they would promote cohesion between the city and various business chambers.
Morgan, who chairs the chamber’s special events committee, said she’s been working with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Power Networking Group on behalf of the Maricopa Chamber in an effort to combine.
Potter said he’s a member of many local networking groups and, as a councilmember, would remain impartial to all chambers and support them in their individual missions.
Vitiello said although he believes chambers are important to cities, he would not approve supporting them financially through city dollars.
Committing himself to becoming the council liaison to the Maricopa and Hispanic chambers was Marsh’s answer.
Caroselli said she’d develop a council with delegates from each group that would bring the organizations together to discuss unity with the city.
A solution to chamber factions is already being addressed, according to Manfredi, by a new position at City Hall that will work with small businesses and various chambers to “bring them together and figure out a path for Maricopa.”
Six candidates plus the write-in are vying for three open City Council seats. The primary election is Aug. 28.
The Maricopa Chamber has for months been grappling with its future.
In May, the chamber announced it was leaving its office on Honeycutt Road and would operate “virtually” inside business spaces of its members.
The chamber switched strategies in July and announced it found a new, physical location, inside HomeSmart Success, 19756 N. John Wayne Parkway.
Manfredi is a minority owner of InMaricopa.