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city council

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Peggy Chapados was selected the vice mayor on the recommendation of Councilmember Marvin Brown, her predecessor in the seat. Photo by Mason Callejas

A changing of the guard took place within the Maricopa City Council Tuesday during the annual selection of the vice mayor.

The now former vice mayor, Marvin Brown, stepped aside during the council’s regular meeting while simultaneously nominating Councilmember Peggy Chapados to fill the position. She becomes the first female vice mayor of Maricopa.

During the meeting, Brown said he took pleasure in nominating someone whom seven years ago he himself appointed to the Parks, Recreation and Libraries board and now serves as “a trusted colleague” on council.

A native New Yorker who moved to Maricopa in 2006, Chapados said she is honored to have been nominated and to have the confidence of her fellow councilmembers.

“I am just excited to continue representing Maricopa as I have been for the past five years,” she said.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Chapados added she doesn’t have any plans of immediately running for another term upon the expiration of her current term in December 2018. However, she said, she may consider running in the future if the conditions are right.

For now, she said, she wants to finish what she’s started.

“I’m still involved in a lot of different committees and projects, so I want to make sure those get completed.”



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City Councilmembers (from left) Nancy Smith, Henry Wade, Peggy Chapados, Mayor Christian Price, Vice Mayor Marvin Brown, Vincent Manfredi and Julia Gusse turn dirt for the formal groundbreaking ceremony Monday. Photo by Mason Callejas

An infrastructure project 15 years in the making finally broke ground Monday morning.

City officials broke ground for the overpass at State Route 347 and the Union Pacific Railroad crossing.

A who’s who of Maricopa leadership came out to a vacant lot on John Wayne Parkway and Honeycutt Road, property that will be beneath the future overpass, to witness the ceremonial launch of the historical event.

“When we’re here today on this momentous and historic day, it’s not because we just decided that yesterday we needed an overpass and we just finally got around to doing it,” said Mayor Christian Price speaking to a sizeable crowd. “It’s because it’s been in the works for 15 years.”

Along with city council members and staff, Price also reunited with the city’s former leaders to break ground on the State Route 347 overpass above the Union Pacific Rail Road crossing.

Former Mayors Edward Farrell, Kelly Anderson and Anthony Smith attended the groundbreaking.

Price honored his predecessors with a gift for their contributions to the overpass.

“I think this goes way, way back to probably August of 2003 when Mayor Farrell formed the committee to incorporate because if we hadn’t taken the step to incorporate we would not be here because we didn’t have the political clout to do this,”

Farrell is the first mayor of Maricopa. He led the once-small town toward cityhood over 15 years ago.

I think it’s awesome, as Kelly can agree with me because we were here from day one, and at day one that overpass was a priority. For the mayors that follow after us to take it where we left off – Mayor Smith starting it in 2008 – and Mayor Price to take it from third-base-to-home, he did an outstanding job. It’s a very special day,” Farrell said.

Smith, now a Pinal County supervisor said the overpass is one step in a long line of upcoming improvements to the 347.

“This is kind of a warm up for really where we are heading in the future, so I know it’s difficult, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Smith said.

City leaders braced residents to be patient with the project’s related traffic delays. Construction is slated to being by Nov. 25. Until then, Price said it’s time to celebrate.

“Congratulations, we’re getting an overpass,” he said.


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City Manager Gregory Rose at a crowded city council meeting this year. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Raquel Hendrickson & Mason Callejas

Maricopa is hunting for a new city manager.

After almost four years, Gregory Rose announced to staff Tuesday morning his intention to leave for a similar position in University City, Missouri. He starts his new job Dec. 28. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, his salary will be $170,000. His Maricopa salary is $173,000.

“I think we’re all sad to see him go,” Mayor Christian Price said. “I know he has family back in the Dallas area, and University City makes it a little bit better to get to. And [University City is] going through some challenges that fall within his wheelhouse.”

University City has had financial and development problems as well as political issues. Rose said he felt that was a main reason he was selected.

University City has been under interim management since the previous city manager was fired in March amid controversy. The suburb of St. Louis has a population of around 35,000.

Rose started city administration in University City in 1997 as a deputy manager. He left in 2001.

“It’s always been a city I enjoyed when I was there, and I knew if ever there was an opportunity to return I would seriously consider it,” said Rose, who said he had not been searching for another job when the University City position opened.

“It was the only city I would have considered,” he said.

Rose has been a city administrator in Hyattsville, Maryland, a city manager in North Las Vegas, Nevada, and principle of the consulting firm Rose & Associate until he was named city manager of Maricopa in February 2014.

Rose replaced Brenda Fischer, who went on to serve as city manager of Glendale for less than 18 months before moving to Las Vegas.

The development of Maricopa’s 2040 Vision, the completion of Copper Sky and the pending overpass on John Wayne Parkway across the Union Pacific Railroad tracks are three of the accomplishments he’s most pleased to have been a part of in Maricopa. He said he hopes Maricopans “appreciate what we accomplished together.”

He said the 2040 Vision, a long-range planning document the community created, is “an extremely clear vision that will transcend many administrations.”

Though Rose and city council have not yet worked out his departure date, Rose said he definitely would be present for the groundbreaking ceremony for the overpass Nov. 20.

“You couldn’t drag me away,” he said.

For the moment, Rose wants to work with council and staff to help the interim transition go smoothly.

Price said the hiring process for a new city manager could take 3-5 months. If city council follows the same procedure it used in hiring Rose, an interim manager will be put into place as the search process begins. He said the interim could come from within city hall or be someone outside.

Then council would compile a stakeholders group comprised of commission members and prominent members of the community. They will look at applicants and pass along their recommendations to a directors group, which would winnow the applicants to six or seven. Then the council would narrow those to the top three.

But that procedure could change.

“The council has to decide which way it wants to go,” Price said.

Quintin Baker directs Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship. Photo by Mason Callejas

The director of Maricopa’s small-business incubator presented its third quarter update to City Council Tuesday, during which he proclaimed he would no longer be using certain metrics to measure success despite councilmembers previously requesting more detailed numerical data.

Quintin Baker, director of the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship, presented its Q3 numbers which showed growth in certain areas such as attendance, social media presence and mentorship. However, he showed the number of clients served, and the jobs created, slipped.

In the Q2 report, Baker reported four jobs created and 39 clients served, but in Q3 there were zero jobs created and 32 clients served.

As such, Baker said he would no longer be providing metrics related to job creation. But, that’s a good thing, he said.

“It’s not that I don’t think it is [important], it’s just that the numbers weren’t there,” Baker said. “The small businesses weren’t showing job growth, and yet they were still showing measurable success and accomplishments along their milestones and things of that nature.”

In terms of average reoccurring attendance at MCE programs, Baker said, those numbers doubled from seven in Q2 to 14 in Q3. Likewise, social media likes nearly doubled from only 894 in Q2, to 1,662 in Q3.

Baker attributed this new-found local awareness to the attention generated by the organization’s recent Pitch Competition.

The winner of that competition walked with a $500 cash prize provided by MCE’s parent organization – The Norther Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET).

MCE also picked up three new mentors, Baker said, something he attributed to that new-found awareness and the fact that people are showing greater willingness to help.

“I think it’s because people know who we are and what we’re about,” Baker said. “People have been wanting to contribute.”

Those businesses, he said, want to help with specific industries and can provide accesses to resources that could significantly improve small businesses.

Members of that new mentor pool now include Councilmember Peggy Chapados and other area community and business leaders.

MCE further accomplished several other tasks Baker said are helping the organization reach its goals, including a Boot Camp and a new Business Advisory Board.

Combined, he said, all of these elements will help MCE not only provide success to others, but also promote its own success and eventual self-sufficiency.

“The whole point of this is to try to get us to a foundation to where we can then be in a position to be self-sustaining, whether through leveraging different funding options or by being able to generate revenue through our programing.”

Baker said he hopes to soon see 15 percent of the MCE’s expenses sponsored by other organizations or companies.

City Hall has already started a search for organizations that could run the business incubator after city council expressed dissatisfaction with NACET. At Tuesday’s meeting, the councilmembers spent very little time questioning Baker.

Still-dirty corners of city facilities have council looking at its cleaning-services contract anew. Submitted photo

The Maricopa City Council batted down the extension of a janitorial contract Tuesday due to what some members said was sub-par service.

The one-year contract, valued at nearly $340,000, was to be granted to Carnation Building Services Inc., the city’s previous janitorial service provider. However, Mayor Christian Price and others on council expressed dissatisfaction with both the quality of service and what they felt was an inadequate bidding process.

“I don’t want to say we haven’t been happy, but I can’t say that we’ve been thrilled with this particular service here,” Price said.

Both Price and Councilmember Vincent Manfredi referenced instances in which both constituents and themselves personally have been to Copper Sky Recreation Complex when the facilities were unusually dirty.

In photos submitted to InMaricopa, areas around Copper Sky can be seen to be only partially clean, with certain surfaces and areas behind furniture left dusty.

Price said one possible solution would be to divide the contract into multiple, smaller contracts. By doing this, he said, it would not only allow for a more fair and competitive bidding process but also may allow for more specialized janitorial services.

The contract currently includes the cleaning of City Hall, Copper Sky, the Fire Administration and Public Works offices and special events.  The broad scope of the contract, Price said, is where the city is going wrong.

“It makes me wonder if we haven’t hindered ourselves by putting together this entire quote, because they’re different things,” Price said.

Price compared it to going to Costco and needing mayonnaise but being forced to buy a tub of mayonnaise because it is all they offer.

“You might save some money in some respects, but you might waste a lot, too,” Price said.

Price suggested separating the contract into basic janitorial services and additional special events and/or Copper Sky services.

Public Works Director Bill Fay said the average number of received bids for any government contract is around 4.2 bids per contract. However, this contract received considerably less than that.

“My understanding is that there were two bids,” Fay said. “One was declared non-responsive, so that left one.”

That number could have much greater, Price said, if the contract were separated so businesses that specialize in offices could bid on a contract that doesn’t include special events or fitness centers.

Furthermore, Price said, by continuing the contract, the city is doing a disservice to paying members of Copper Sky who may notice the unclean areas and decide to discontinue their memberships.

Council ultimately voted to reject the current contract and directed city staff to reconfigure the contract.

Carnation Building Services will likely continue on a month-to-month contract until the matter is resolved.

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Maricopa City Council: (seated, from left) Vice Mayor Marvin Brown, Mayor Christian Price, Councilmember Peggy Chapados; (standing) Councilmembers Nancy Smith, Henry Wade, Julia Gusse and Vincent Manfredi (City of Maricopa photo)

City of Maricopa
39700 W. Civic Center Plaza
520-568-9098
Maricopa-AZ.gov

Mayor
Christian Price
520-316-6821
Christian.Price@maricopa-az.gov

City Council

Vice Mayor Marvin L. Brown
520-316-2020
Marvin.Brown@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Peggy Chapados
520-316-3826
Peggy.Chapados@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi
520-316-6823
Vincent.Manfredi@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Nancy Smith|
520-316-6822
Nancy.Smith@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Julia Gusse
520-568-9098
Julia.Gusse@maricopa-az.gov

Councilmember Henry Wade
520-316-6825
Henry.Wade@maricopa-az.gov

Pinal County

Sheriff
Mark Lamb
971 Jason Lopez Circle, Building C, Florence
520-866-5997
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Sheriff

County Attorney
Kent Volkmer
30 N. Florence St, Building D, Florence
520-866-6271
PinalCountyAttorney@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/CountyAttorney

Justice of the Peace – Precinct 8 (Maricopa/Stanfield)
Lyle Riggs
19955 N. Wilson Ave.
520-866-3999
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Judicial

Constable – Precinct 8 (Maricopa/Stanfield)
Bret Roberts
19955 N. Wilson Ave
520-840-5294
Bret.Roberts@pinalcountyaz.gov

Assessor
Douglas Wolf
31 N. Pinal St, Building E, Florence
520-866-6353
Assessor@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Assessor

Recorder
Virginia Ross
31 N. Pinal St, Building E, Florence
520-866-6830
Recorder@PinalCountyAZ.gov
PinalCountyAZ.gov/Recorder

Board of Supervisors
135 N. Pinal St, Building A, Florence
520-866-6220
PinalCountyAZ.gov/BOS

Supervisor Anthony Smith [District 4, Maricopa] 41600 W. Smith-Enke Road, Suite 128
520-866-3960
Anthony.Smith@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Pete Rios [District 1] 520-866-7830
Pete.Rios@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Mike Goodman [District 2] 520-866-8080
Mike.Goodman@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Stephen Miller [District 3] 520-866-7401
Steve.Miller@PinalCountyAZ.gov

Supervisor Todd House [District 5] 480-982-0659
Todd.House@PinalCountyAZ.gov

State of Arizona

Governor
Doug Ducey
1700 W. Washington St., Phoenix
Phone (Phoenix): 602-542-4331
Phone (Tucson): 520-628-6580
Engage@az.gov
AZGovernor.gov

State Legislators

Steve Smith – State Senator – District 11 (Maricopa)
1700 W. Washington St, Room 33, Phoenix
602-926-5685
AZLeg.gov

Mark Finchem – State Representative – District 11 (Maricopa)
1700 W. Washington St, Room 129, Phoenix
602-926-3122
AZLeg.gov

Vince Leach – State Representative – District 11 (Maricopa)
1700 W. Washington St, Room 226, Phoenix
Phone: 602-926-3106
AZLeg.gov

Secretary of State
Michelle Reagan
Office of the Secretary of State
1700 W. Washington St., 7th Floor, Phoenix
1-800-458-5842
AZSOS.gov

Attorney General
Mark Brnovich
1275 W. Washington St., Phoenix
602-542-5025
AZAG.gov

State Treasurer
Jeff Dewit
1700 W. Washington St, 1st Floor, Phoenix
Phone: 602-542-7800
877-365-8310
AZTreasury.gov

State Mine Inspector
Joe Heart
1700 W. Washington St, 4th Floor, Phoenix
602-542-5971
ASMI.az.gov

State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Diane Douglas
1535 W. Jefferson St., Phoenix
800-352-4558
adeinbox@azed.gov
AZED.gov/superintendent

Corporation Commission
1200 W. Washington St, Commissioners Wing, 2nd Floor, Phoenix
AZCC.gov

Chairman Tom Forese
602-542-3933
foresee-web@azcc.gov

Commissioner Bob Burns
602-542-3682
rburns-web@azcc.gov

Commissioner Doug Little
602-542-0742
little-web@azcc.gov

Commissioner Andy Tobin
602-542-3625
tobin-web@azcc.gov

Commissioner Boyd W. Dunn
602-542-3935
dunn-web@azcc.gov

U.S. Congress
Tom O’Halleran –  U.S. Representative – U.S. House District 1
126 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
202-225-3361
211 N. Florence St, Suite 1, Casa Grande
520-316-0839
3037 W. Ina Road, Suite 101, Tucson
928-304-0131
OHalleran.house.gov

John McCain – U.S. Senator
Washington Office:
218 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
202-224-2235
2201 E. Camelback Road, Suite 115, Phoenix
602-952-2410
407 W. Congress St, Suite 103, Tucson
520-670-6334
McCain.senate.gov

Jeff Flake – U.S. Senator
Senate Russell Office Building 413, Washington, D.C.
202-224-4521
2200 E. Camelback Road, Suite 120, Phoenix
602-840-1891
6840 N. Oracle Road, Suite 150, Tucson
520-575-8633
Flake.senate.gov

President of the United States

Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
Phone (White House Switchboard): 202-456-1111
Phone (Comments): 202-456-1414
Phone (TTY/TTD): 202-456-6213
Phone (Visitors Office): 202-456-2121
WhiteHouse.gov

An example of a house being used as a business and not necessarily a home.

City officials revealed a plan at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that could allow homes in the Heritage District to more freely be used as small businesses.

“What we’re trying to achieve here is that you don’t have to live in the home anymore to consider it to have a business in there.” — Rudy Lopez

The “Adaptive Reuse” Plan, Maricopa senior planner Rudy Lopez said, will allow for homes with fewer than 5,000 square-feet to operate “low-impact professional office or appointment base business [sic].”

Examples of potential “mixed-use” uses are insurances offices, accounting offices, hair salons, barber shops and coffee shops.

“A lot of cities across the metro Phoenix area, and even Pinal County as well, are using this type of tool to reinvest within older portions of town,” Lopez said.

As part of the Adaptive Reuse plan, the city will streamline the permitting process by modifying parking, landscaping and mechanical-screening standards allowing for minor developments to support the businesses.

The current city code, Lopez said, already makes room for “home occupation.”

“What we’re trying to achieve here is that you don’t have to live in the home anymore to consider it to have a business in there,” Lopez said.

This allows for the property to possibly even be leased to another small business without anyone living at the property.

“The biggest thing we are trying to get out is that business can now have signage,” He said. “They can expose their business.”

These types of businesses would still have to abide by nuisance regulations that prevent sight obstruction, loud noise and harsh smells.

Examples of other cities doing similar things are Phoenix, Chandler and Gilbert.

Council will likely vote on the matter in the coming weeks.

Heritage District map

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Enrique Gomez speaks to Maricopa City Council on behalf of the Mexican Consulate. Photo by Mason Callejas

Representatives from the Mexican consulate appeared before the Maricopa City Council Tuesday, presenting information about the consulate and their role in the state and nation.

Answering an invitation by Councilmember Henry Wade, Deputy Consulate Enrique Gomez spoke on behalf of Consul Ricardo Pineda, highlighting statistics on Mexican nationals and immigrants in the United States and the programs offered to them and the community as a whole.

“Mexico has 50 consulates in the United States,” Gomez said. “It’s the largest consular network that one country has into another one.”

Five of those consulates are located in Arizona: Yuma, Nogales, Douglas, Tucson and Phoenix. The reason for having five, Gomez said, is because of three things: population, trade and immigration.

In Arizona, 27.3 percent of the population is of Hispanic origin. In Tucson that number is just over 40 percent of the population.

Mexico also trades more with Arizona than they do with all of Central America combined, Gomez said. Likewise, 40 percent of Arizona’s exports go to Mexico.

Because of this, the consulate offers numerous resources and programs for Mexicans abroad through legal assistance, and advice on labor, criminal, and administrative issues.

Other large programs are offered through the Institute for Mexicans Abroad – Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior – or IME.

“[The IME] promotes strategies and programs to help Mexican communities living and working abroad to integrate and maintain contact with their countries of origin,” Gomez said.

The program offers education, community development and health and wellness advice and services.

The consulate, Gomez said, also works within the academic world, tracking advanced studies and networking with and connecting researchers all across the globe.

Locally, Gomez said, the consulate works with state and local governments and law enforcement agencies in both Pinal and Pima Counties, including Customs and Border Patrol and sheriffs offices in both counties.

Councilmember Julia Gusse asked Gomez if the consulate did much to work with undocumented immigrants who may be afraid to report crimes, given their status.

The consulate, Gomez said, understands their frustration and works with local law enforcement agencies so people may understand what their rights. He said he would be happy to work with the city of Maricopa to have the same discussion.

However, he said, “if there is ever any [criminal] issue, people should always collaborate with the authorities.”

In addition to these lesser-known services, he said, the consulate also provides typical passport and Matrícula services to Mexican nationals, and visa services to U.S. citizens looking to travel, study or work in Mexico.

For more information on Tucson’s Mexican Consulate and the services offered visit their website.

 

The Maricopa City Council voted Tuesday to sign a lease on behalf of a local small-business incubator, extending its ability to function despite uncertainty about the city’s contract with the incubator’s parent organization.

Voting 5-1 in favor of the move, the city signed the 12-month lease with Transition Investments giving the Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship the ability to operate for another year in their current offices.

Councilmember Julia Gusse cast the lone vote against the measure, despite personally benefiting from the programs offered by the MCE.

Gusse said she was reluctant to put the city on the hook for $2,232 a month – $26,793 a year – given that the city has not yet extended its contract with MCE’s parent organization – the Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.

“My son is going to go to ASU,” Gusse said. “I’m not going to get his room, I’m not going to get his classes scheduled, I’m not going to get anything unless he’s actually been accepted to the university.”

With this lease, the city will be the signatory, Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said, as opposed to the past when NACET signed the lease. However, she said, the lease would be paid for out of the $200,000 grant MCE receives on behalf of the city.

MCE’s lease expired Sept. 30, Airheart said, so they would have to be out as soon as possible.

The organization was given an extension by the property owner to allow time for the city to decide on the matter.

Airheart further stressed the importance of the incubator, emphasizing its role as one of the three legs of the city’s economic development plan. The space, she said, would be under control of the city, which would allow them to sublease in the event the contract with NACET was not extended.

Mayor Christian Price agreed it’s better to have the space and not need it, than need it and not have it.

“We’re covering our rear-ends, so to speak,” Price said.

To be clear, Gusse’s vote against the measure was not out of disdain for the organization, she said. However, she thought it would be premature without a decision on the extension of the NACET contract.

The contract extension with the incubator will likely be decided on in the near future.

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City Council is trying to determine if having City Hall open earlier and later than normal operating hours and closed on Fridays has been a benefit to employees and residents.

The Maricopa City Council weighed in on the city’s condensed hours of operation Tuesday, declaring an intragovernmental survey conducted on the matter was inadequate.

The two-question survey did show that roughly 87 percent of non-elected city employees who participated preferred to work four 10-hour days – Monday-Thursday. However, the survey asked only two questions and had only 33 respondents. This lack of a sample size was deemed by several councilmembers as insufficient to close the books on the issue.

Councilmember Nancy Smith, who said she first supported the two-question format, now feels the questions were inadequate and in need of constituent and customer input.

“I receive, on a regular basis, input from developer groups or businesses,” Smith said. “If they want to ask questions, and if they wait until Thursday afternoon, they’re not going to get an answer for three days later.”

Smith also noted the employee comments made in the survey, suggesting changing the four-day workweek could result in the loss of several employees.

To combat any such flight, she suggested the survey consider an off-set or “hybrid” work schedule in which one group of people work Monday-Thursday and another group works Tuesday-Friday. She also suggested considering nine-hour workdays Monday-Thursday and four-hour Fridays.

The city is historically slow on Fridays, from a business standpoint, given as the reason it moved to the four-10 workweek nearly five years ago. However, Smith said she wants to make sure the residents and businesses were getting reasonable access to their city government.

Councilmember Peggy Chapados said she wanted to see other data concerning reductions in sick-time and improvements to employee morale. She indicated that morale should almost certainly be better considering the likelihood of Mondays being holidays, which essentially means a “mini vacation” for city employees.

Even if the survey is expanded to residents, she said, she already knows what it will prove.

“I think we know what they want to see,” Chapados said. “They want to see comprehensive services.”

To provide that, she suggested a gradual change such as possibly making City Hall open one Friday a month.

City Manager Gregory Rose agreed with Smith and Chapados. However, he said, changing the work schedule doesn’t mean more employees, so it’s important to understand the impact of diluting services.

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi, though reluctant to spend any money on a third-party survey, said he also felt the survey was not broad enough and should include the residents.

“Regardless of what we want, it’s what the people want,” Manfredi said.

Judge Lyle Riggs also weighed in, saying he wanted to consider a move in the opposite direction. The Maricopa Municipal Court is currently open on Fridays, which he said, much like the city, is its slowest day.

Moving to a four-10 workweek for the court would not have much of an effect on the judicial process he said. In the case of search warrants or other emergency actions, he said he is still on-call 24-7.

In light of the conversation, Council directed Rose to conduct more research, including a broader survey which will also lend consideration to the Municipal Court.

The Apex Motor Club's plans for a private track in Maricopa are stalled during legal wrangling.

Another lawsuit has been filed against the city regarding the construction of a private motorsports track in Maricopa.

The suit, filed in Pinal County Superior Court July 19 by former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods on behalf of Maricopa resident Bonita Burks, alleges legal missteps by the Maricopa City Council in granting a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to Scottsdale based Private Motorsports Group to construct a private racetrack in Maricopa named Apex Motor Club.

The argument presented in the suit is three-fold.

First, the suit alleges the Maricopa City Council “misinterpreted and misapplied” the city’s zoning codes “resulting in action contrary to law and in excess of their legal authority.”

The suit argues the land in question, a 280-acre plot on the northwest corner of Ralston Road and State Route 238, which is classified under the city’s “old code” as an “Industrial Zone” could not be granted a CUP without first being rezoned for commercial use under the city’s “new code.”

The new code, adopted Dec. 4, 2014, does not contain Industrial Use Permits (IUP), which the suit alleges is necessary to allow for the construction of a racetrack.

The city argues in its analysis that a CUP is “the most compatible zoning application” and is “being reviewed with a level of scrutiny as an IUP.”

Second, the suit alleges an ordinance enacted by city council to speed up the referendum process also violated the law.

City Council enacted the ordinance (17-07) as a result of an Application for Referendum filed by a group called Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers, which is seeking to force a public vote on the decision to grant Private Motorsports Group a CUP.

The ordinance, forces proposed referendums to occur during the “next,” or soonest, general election in an attempt to “make the process more timely and for the efficient administration of City services and elections.”

The lawsuit claims the city “declared an ‘emergency,’ and stated the purported purpose for Ordinance Number 17-07 was to ‘preserve the peace, health and safety of the city of Maricopa.’”

The Application for Referendum was ultimately denied on the basis that the granting of the CUP was “an administrative act, rather than a legislative act and, therefore, not subject to referendum.”

Maricopa Citizens Protecting Tax Payers filed suit against the city in June regarding the application denial.

Finally, the suit filed by Burks alleges the proposed racetrack will “result in, among other things, significantly increased noise, odors, dust, gas, and smoke emanating from the property, all of which uniquely and negatively affect Plantiff’s use and enjoyment of her property.”

Burks’ home is roughly five miles from the proposed site.

The suit also asserts the track will result in “significantly increased traffic resulting in longer drive times, increased fuel consumption, and creates an increased safety risk to Plaintiff who travels in the area on a frequent basis.”

In the past, Apex President Jason Plotke has emphasized that the track would be a “private facility,” closed to the general public, which would see a maximum of “a couple hundred people,” during a full day’s time.

Burks is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting “any further action related to the Conditional Use Permit to PMG… until such time as the court has made a decision on Plaintiff’s claim for declaratory judgement.”

The suit asks the court to reverse the CUP, to void Ordinance 17-07 and for reimbursement of legal costs.

Burks has not yet returned a request for comment.

Vintage Partners Leasing Director Casey Treadwell speaks at the ceremonial groundbreaking for Edison Point July 31. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A project 10 years in the making hit another milestone Monday morning with a ceremonial groundbreaking.

Edison Pointe, a commercial development south of Fry’s Marketplace, is scheduled to include Ross, Planet Fitness, Brakes Plus, Burger King and Dunkin Donuts. The mayor, councilmembers, Vintage Partners Leasing Director Casey Treadwell and Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart participated in turning earth at the site where areas have already been prepped for foundations.

“We’ll be done with all of the main construction in February,” Treadwell said. “There will be some stuff that could actually open earlier.”

That includes Burger King, which is planned for the northwest corner of the property near Fry’s gas station.

“They’re way ahead of everybody else,” he said. “They’ve been chomping at the bit, but they’ve been very patient. They’ve spent a lot of money in order to go forward.”

Ross and other anchor establishments are expected to open in February and March. With a shared boundary, Vintage Partners has been coordinating with Fry’s during development.

“All of these properties are tied together in their agreements, so we had to maintain certain things for Fry’s,” Treadwell said. “In exchange for the help they’ve given us, we’re going to give them a little land so they can add another gas [island] at the end. It’s just a tiny piece.

“We had to get the property subdivided, which will happen next month.”

The property was planned for development in 2007 but became a victim of the recession. Vintage took over the project four years ago.

“We’ve all been waiting for this project for a very long time,” Mayor Christian Price said. “One of the things I think it’s important that everybody understands is how much work goes into a project like this… Just because you see this land sitting here, it doesn’t make it so easy to suddenly pop something out of the ground.”

Price said Vintage understands the community and what it wants.

“I’m excited to welcome these new retail amenities to the community because this is what keeps the residents here local and supporting these businesses,” Airheart said.

Councilmember Henry Wade praised Vintage for being “smooth and comfortable but impactful and effective.”

“I’m happy as a former Planning & Zoning commissioner to know that things actually do get done,” Wade said.

“When people ask us what cities we like to work with, Maricopa’s at the top of the list,” Treadwell said.

 

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The intersection of Desert Greens at Smith-Enke Road with library in background

The Maricopa City Council agreed to test a left-hand turn restriction on a residential street near the public library at a meeting Tuesday.

Soon, during peak traffic hours, the city will begin limiting left-hand turns from Desert Greens Drive onto Smith-Enke Road due to recent concerns about the safety of drivers turning east.

After inquiring with Maricopa Police Department, Director of Public Works Bill Fay said since their most recent traffic study about a year ago, there has been only one accident at that intersection. Nonetheless, the city feels a traffic control device of some sort is needed.

“I had a commander in the military, years ago, that said to me, ‘Bill, if there is right way to shower and shave a cat, the army has a regulation on it,” Fay joked, alluding to the litany of regulations surrounding an issue like this.

A number of those regulations, Fay said, dictate a stop sign to be appropriate for the intersection.  However, since the danger has been assessed to only be a concern during high traffic hours, limiting left-turns was favored over a stop sign.

Some officials expressed concern with a complete left-turn restriction, saying drivers trying to head east on Smith-Enke would instead make a potentially dangerous U-turn farther west at Province Parkway.

“So [then], we haven’t really solved the problem,” Mayor Christian Price said. “We’ve only increased another problem.”

To better understand the effects of the restrictions, City Manager Gregory Rose suggested a testing period.

“Let’s do a BETA test,” Rose said, “see if restricting the left-hand turn during peak hours accomplishes what we’re trying to accomplish.”

In the end, council directed city staff to proceed with a limited left-turn restriction trial at Desert Greens Drive and Smith-Enke Road.

The exact time the restriction will go into effect, and the hours when left-turns will be limited, has yet to be determined, Fay said. Signs will be ordered, and times will be determined most likely in the next week or so, he said.

Though he couldn’t comment on what exact time of day the restrictions will be, Fay did say they will most likely be during morning and evening “rush-hour.”

The plans for Apex Motor Club have gone through the Development Services Department, Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council.

A group calling itself Maricopa Citizens Protecting Taxpayers has filed a complaint against the City of Maricopa over its dismissal of a petition against Private Motorsports Group.

That club of car enthusiasts is seeking to construct Apex Motor Club on the west side of the city. In April, the city council approved a conditional use permit allowing the construction. MCPT, which lists non-residents Robert Rebich and David Prom as its officers, circulated petitions to force that decision to a referendum.

Though the petitions had enough signatures to make it a ballot issue, the city claimed the permit was not a legislative act but an administrative act and was not subject to referendum, according to the Arizona Constitution.

The suit filed Monday in Pinal County Superior Court lists the City of Maricopa, the mayor and all members of the city council, Private Motorsports Group and City Clerk Vanessa Bueras as the 10 defendants.

City spokesperson Jennifer Brown said the city had not yet been served but will follow the standard procedures for responding to a lawsuit. That includes evaluating whether the city’s attorney, Denis Fitzgibbons, should handle the case or outside counsel should be involved or the city should coordinate with the co-defendant in the case.

Apex has been represented in its land-use dealings by Rose Law Group. In this case, Apex is represented by Coppersmith Brockelman Lawyers. MCPT is represented by Timothy A. La Sota, PLC.

In deciding how to respond to the suit, the council will meet in executive session, which might be a special meeting outside the regular meeting schedule. Because of the Fourth of July next Tuesday, the next scheduled meeting of the council is not until July 18.

After being served, “we generally have to file an answer within 20 days,” Brown said. Once an answer is filed, “the court basically dictates the next steps for us,” she said.

Rebich has not returned calls for comment on the Apex issue. He and Prom are listed as plaintiffs on the suit, along with MCPT. 

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Maricopa's floodplain designations have been an obstacle to development of the Heritage District.

The city council voted Tuesday to apply for grant money to conduct a floodplain analysis instead of assisting a local food bank with relocation costs.

The decision to fund a floodplain analysis of the Heritage District, instead of assisting the relocation of F.O.R. Maricopa food bank, came after a contentious debate over where the funds would best serve the city.

The money in question, an approximate $265,000 Community Development Block Grant, is a biannual federal grant awarded to the city through the state and is meant to aid community development needs, in particular the needs of low- and moderate-income persons.

Both the floodplain analysis and the food bank relocation meet the CDBG requirements, a fact which became the main source of contention.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terri Crain spoke on behalf of F.O.R. as the organization’s volunteer director, Wendy Webb, was unable to attend the council meeting. Crain pled for the funds she said would go to assist in the purchasing of property and the construction of a new building.

“If the food bank closes its doors, there will be a serious and immediate threat to the welfare of this community,” Crain said. “For those of you who know what we do, and how it helps our community, you realize that they [F.O.R.] are an essential service in town.”

The council, despite Crain’s urgings, opted to fund the floodplain analysis for multiple reasons. The city’s ability to bring a considerable portion of the Heritage District out of the floodplain is likely the weightiest.

Mayor Christian Price said the choice was not an easy one to make. The decision, he said, came down to the long-term benefits of development for the city.

“That’s kind of an issue for everybody in this area based on a 2007 post-Katrina world, it’s stuck,” Price said. “They can’t adjust their home, they can’t fix it, they can’t tear it down, its grandfathered in, but if you’re a business and you want to come in and create something there, what are you going to do for the floodplain?”

If the analysis deems any part of the Heritage District to be within one foot of the required elevation to be considered safe from flooding, it is possible numerous homes could be removed from the floodplain designation. That elevation could help property owners in the Heritage District, a large number of which are low to moderate-income, sell their homes and increase the value of their properties.

CDBG funds have, in the past, been used to help similar organizations like F.O.R.

Against Abuse found a home in Maricopa because of its access to CDBG funds.

Councilmember Vince Manfredi attempted to highlight the importance of the floodplain analysis by saying he would have voted for it instead of helping Against Abuse had the analysis been an option two years ago.

“If [Against Abuse] was up against the Heritage District Floodplain Analysis that would pull all these people out of the floodplain,” Manfredi said, “I would have voted for the Heritage District Analysis that would have pulled all the people out of the flood plain.”

Councilmember Nancy Smith was the lone advocate for using CDBG funds to help the food bank relocate. Others voiced support for the food bank, but instead voted for the analysis, saying it was the more “common sense” thing to do.

Smith wanted to find a way to do both by using some of the city’s $1 million in Contingency Funds to pay for the analysis. That option would, however, be difficult given that the city is about to transition into the next fiscal year.

The council, in the end, unanimously approved the use CDBG funds for the floodplain analysis.

The food bank has temporarily moved its offices to 19756 N. John Wayne Parkway, Suite 108, leaving the former county jail building that will be removed to make way for the overpass.

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Photo by Dean Crandall

The City of Maricopa’s operating budget for fiscal year 2017-18 was officially adopted by City Council, Tuesday, after a short debate over improvements at Copper Sky Recreation Center and funding several council members were hoping to see provided for boards and committees.

The passing of the almost $39 million budget was slowed by the two sticking points, which when combined amount to around $68,000.

The gym upgrades at Copper Sky are proposed to only cost $23,000, but have been allocated an additional $20,000 in contingency funds if costs exceed the initial proposal.

Funding for the Boards, Commissions and Committees (BCCs) was the lesser of the two proposed costs at $25,000, but it drew the most contention across council.

The funds were initially suggested to help seed two of the city’s newest committees – the Veterans Affairs Committee and the Cultural Affairs Advisory Committee. However, it quickly became evident other BCCs might also want to tap into the funding.

A vetting process was universally agreed upon by council at prior meetings as a solution to the issue, but a consensus was not easily reached among the council during Tuesday’s meeting regarding the amount of funding.

“I would not recommend 25 [thousand dollars], I’m thinking somewhere in the 16 to 20 range,” Councilmember Peg Chapados said. “I would also like to send this back to the BFO [Budget, Finance and Operations subcommittee], if we approve this, to put some guidelines as to how that money is requested and what it can be used for.”

Councilmember Henry Wade said funding may be necessary for some groups who find it hard to gain financial support from the community.

“It is more difficult, at times, for one group or organization to go and get funding from the community,” Wade said.

He suggested the ability for veteran’s organizations to get community funding is much better than the Cultural Affairs Advisory Committee, which may not drum up the same level of support, thus making the “seed” money necessary.

“I think that in this particular case, at this particular time, it gives us the ability to create quality organizations,” Wade said. “It gives these BCCs an opportunity at a step up.”

Wade said he is willing to negotiate the amount of funding, if it helps the council reach a consensus.

The budget was eventually passed with the approval of the funding for gym upgrades at Copper Sky, and the recommendation that a decision regarding funding for BCCs be put on hold until the BFO can come up with a solution.

Mayor Christian Price and Councilmember Vincent Manfredi look over the options for a possible pedestrian crossing to coincide with the overpass. Photo by Mason Callejas

A possible pedestrian bridge spanning the Union Pacific Railroad was discussed on Tuesday during an open house at Maricopa City Hall.

Members of the city’s planning department and contracted architects met members of the public and local officials in the lobby at City Hall to present three ideas for a pedestrian bridge, which the city hopes will help with foot and bicycle traffic trying to traverse the tracks when trains are present.

J2 Engineering and Environmental Design firm has been contracted by the city to help with the project, and was on hand to answer questions about the designs.

“[The proposed designs] each possess their own unique qualities,” J2 senior landscape architect Dean Chambers said. “They do come with a price tag, though.”

The first design, the “Maricopa Circle,” is the most visually stimulating design, including a snake-like suspension bridge that would hang over the current John Wayne Parkway and UPRR intersection with greenspace/plaza areas at either end.

See Maricopa Circle design

“The broad turns on either side were designed with cyclists in mind,” Chambers said.

The turns, he added, are still not entirely accommodating to cyclists in some areas, however. A longer ramp to fully accommodate bike riders would be cost prohibitive.

“If you’re a skilled rider, then maybe you could make it,” Chambers said. “But most [cyclists] would have to walk their bikes.”

Estimated costs for the Maricopa Circle design are already around $20.9 million.

The second design, the “Maricopa Station,” is another separate structure with a more simply designed “trellis-type” bridge. Its proposed location would be several hundred yards to the west of the overpass, connecting the northwestern portion of the Heritage District with the area around Maricopa High School.

See Maricopa Station design

The design is simple and would fully accommodate cyclists, Chambers said. However, it would require the purchase of land on either side of the tracks, bringing the price tag up to around $17.1 million.

The last and cheapest design pitched was dubbed the “Overpass Link.” Its proposed design includes utilizing the sidewalk on the overpass itself and building two small plazas on the western side of the overpass at either end, where there will be ramps and small parks.

See Overpass Link design

The drawback to the Overpass Link, Chambers said, is that cyclists are not allowed to ride in the roadway on the overpass; the agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation prohibits it.  Cyclists will have to walk their bikes on the side walk to cross the overpass.

These designs are tentative, according to city officials, and will be discussed in detail at future city council and planning-and-zoning meetings.

Officers and supporters of APEX Motor Club listen to speakers at Tuesday's hearing on a conditional use permit for the organization to build in Maricopa. Photo by Mason Cajellas

The Maricopa City Council voted Tuesday to permit a motorsports complex to move forward with the planning of a proposed private racetrack in Maricopa.

The conditional use permit, filed by Scottsdale-based Private Motorsports Group, was unanimously approved by the council after a sizable group of both residents and nonresidents offered their opinions on the matter at the meeting.

While most speakers, some donning yellow APEX Motor Club stickers on their chest, advocated in favor of the motorsports complex and its potential to aid in economic development in the city. Others expressed concern with what they consider to be a hastily prepared project.

Maricopa resident Rich Vitiello of Cobblestone Farms, one of the neighborhoods closest to the proposed track, acknowledged his support for any economic boom within the city. However, he also voiced concern over what he considers to be an inadequate noise study conducted by the permit applicant.

“I’m not against it, I love it, I think it’s awesome,” Vitiello said. “But I have a big, big concern with a $33 million project that’s got a $100, $200 noise study. It’s a two-pager.”

Vitiello, a self-described “car guy,” went on to cite another noise study done for a similar racetrack in California that was 143 pages and, according to Vitiello, “costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods also attended the meeting and spoke on behalf of “a number of Maricopa residents and business owners,” who, he said, are also upset with how the project has been processed.

He argued his clients, too, are not necessarily against the racetrack but are upset with the rapid pace of its approval.

“We don’t think that the city has yet taken the steps it needs to, to make sure this is what you hope it might be,” Woods told the council.

Woods referred to a situation with another complex, Arizona Motorsports Park near Luke Air Force Base, where the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved the park in 2001 and then revoked the permit in 2004 when nearby residents became annoyed by noise and traffic.

The speed of this approval for this project, he said, indicates the city may not have made proper considerations. He fears the city may make the same mistakes Maricopa County made.

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price responded to Woods’ assertion that the project was moving too fast by asking, “Is a year not a long enough to make a business wait to go through the process and reach a conclusion?”

To that, Woods said, it has barely been a year since the first announcement, and he feels a bare minimum amount of effort was made to gain public input.

Recently an awareness campaign named Speed Kills Maricopa started a Facebook page and began promoting on TV and social media with video commercials dramatically depicting the dangers and potential nuisance such a track would bring. The videos have reportedly appeared on cable TV stations.

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi praised the commercials for doing what they were designed to do – raise public awareness.

“It’s great because I haven’t gotten one call,” Manfredi said, provoking applause from the chamber. “In fact, I’ve gotten calls for the opposite.”

Furthermore, Councilmember Nancy Smith stressed the fact that the force behind the recent campaign is unknown.

“We don’t know who the client is; It’s hidden.” Smith said. “We can’t tell what the motivation is. That should leave you [Maricopa residents] to be concerned.”

Smith hinted the campaign could be directed by forces with interests outside of Maricopa.

Unsubstantiated reports have been made against a competitor looking to construct a similar, but considerably larger track in a nearby town.

Apex Motor Club is slated to build its private facilities on 280 acres of land situated north of State Route 238, west of Ak-Chin Southern Dunes golf course, near Ralston Road. The closest residential area, Acacia Crossing, is 3.4 miles from the proposed build site. Cobblestone Farms is half a mile farther east.

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Mayor Christian Price (left) explains local issues to state Sen. Steve Smith during a special meeting of local officials and legislators. Photo by Mason Callejas

Officials from the city of Maricopa and Pinal County met with state legislators on Thursday to discuss the city’s 2017 State Legislative Platform.

The purpose of the meeting was not only to get state-level input on the city’s legislative agenda, but also to inform the legislators of what is important to the city of Maricopa.

In attendance were, among others, Mayor Christian Price, councilmembers Nancy Smith, Julia Gusse, Vince Manfredi and Henry Wade (by phone), City Manager Gregory Rose, County Supervisor Anthony Smith, State Sen.Steve Smith and State Rep. Vince Leach.

Pointed topics of conversation included flood control districts, public land procurement, and of course, the problems of State Route 347.

Discussion of the highway’s widening was laced with questions and concerns about economic growth, public safety, the role of the Gila River reservation and taxes that could or could not be levied by the county to pay for the expansion.

Despite knowing it would ultimately be a state and county project, Price encourage Smith and Leach by implying there is a direct correlation between the county’s infrastructure and Gov. Doug Ducey’s plan for economic growth in the state.

Pointing to the tremendous amount of goods that flow north from Mexico, Price argued not only would the expansion of such a thoroughfare positively impact local communities, but its impact on state and national markets would likewise be bountiful.

“We know the missing link between Pima County and Maricopa County is Pinal,” Price said. “Transportation is the missing link to economic development.”

The meeting touched on another topic that has Maricopa and other municipalities on their toes – SB1487.

According to the city’s proposed Legislative Platform, the city will “oppose legislation that imposes personal liability on Council members for actions taken as part of their official duty, and oppose legislation that increases City liability or requires the City to take on additional indemnity.”

Following the recent uproar surrounding the city of Tucson and its decision to destroy confiscated firearms, SB1487 has been drawn upon to threaten Tucson with a funding freeze pending judicial outcomes.

Likewise, last year the city of Maricopa, along with Tucson and other municipalities (most in Pima County) experienced a similar situation when the state decided to withhold funds from Maricopa because of an overtax that surpassed the state mandated 1 percent cap.

As a result, the city had been anticipating an expenditure around $1.5 million from an already lean $30 million budget. Pima County, however, successfully challenged the state’s withholdings, coming out on the winning end of a suit that is resulting in the temporary continuation of funds by the state, regardless of the overtax.

Leach said though the payment reconciled last year’s expenses, it is a one-time deal. After talking with other legislative leaders, he does believe the funding will reoccur, though he acknowledges finding a uniform policy that works for everyone will be difficult.

“One of the problems we have with structuring a 1 percent cap solution is that they’re just a little bit different wherever you take it,” Leach said.

In a measure of solidarity, the city council will vote Jan. 17 on whether to enter into an agreement with the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, Tucson, Phoenix and other cities that will align their political interests to combat any future efforts by the state to renege on the precedent of covering overtaxes.

SB1487 also states if any municipality’s council is alleged to have violated the law they are unable to use municipal funds to cover legal costs. The city is urging Leach and Smith to help change this portion of the law.

For now, the state is also idle on the overtax issue, showing no documented political will to challenge it in the future.

Mayor Christian Price was the swing vote in a decision not to accept a grant for MPD. Photo by Mason Callejas

The Maricopa City Council voted to reject a federal law enforcement grant on Tuesday that would have allowed the hiring of two additional officers to a police force that is currently overextended.

The council voted 4-3 against accepting a Department of Justice grant, citing the expenses the city would have to incur as part of a “cost sharing” requisite tied to the grant.

Had the grant been accepted, the city could have hired two new officers — a crime prevention officer and a youth liaison officer.

The three-year cost of hiring two entry-level officers is roughly $550,000. As part of the DOJ’s Policing Services Hiring Program (CHP) the grant would have awarded  $250,000 to the department to help cover the costs, leaving about $300,000 for the city to cover.

As the council heard presentations by Police Chief Steve Stahl, City Manager Gregory Rose and members of the community, an impassioned discussion occurred through which the burden of the decision was revealed.

Councilmember Peggy Chapados spoke in support of the DOJ grant, indicating the hiring of two new officers would likely not have been so contentious if the expense they currently incur for three school resource officers (SROs) was instead absorbed by the school district.

“I think that we have to acknowledge that we are footing the bill at 100 percent because MUSD has failed for two budget cycles, six years, to apply for a grant that would have funded those [SRO] positions,” Chapados said.

However, speaking to the issue at hand, Chapados felt “the burden falls on the seven of us and every director to come up with, in three years, the difference to fund and keep those [two new] officers.”

Councilmembers Nancy Smith and Vincent Manfredi, Vice Mayor Marvin Brown and Mayor Christian Price all expressed a strong will to work with MPD in addressing their needs. However, considering the uncertain economic landscape on the horizon, they could not bring themselves to support the added $300,000.

Smith emphasized she strongly supports law enforcement, but when considering the long list of future financial implications, such as a shifting financial burden with Copper Sky, unforeseen costs of the 347 overpass construction and the minimum wage increase, the risks are too great.

“It’s important to know that we support public safety,” Smith said. “ But we have to look at the risks.”

Councilmember Henry Wade, undeterred by the economics of the debate, joined Chapados, and later Councilmember Julia Gusse, voicing support for the grant. He agreed there are certain risks that need to be avoided but when it comes to the safety of the community and its first responders, those risks superseded any added costs.

“I don’t know how much one of those gun belts weighs, what that bullet-proof vest weighs, what the idea that ‘I’m leaving my family and I may not see them again’ weighs,” Wade said. “But I have a very difficult time looking at this in a numerical equation as opposed to the life of a person on the street.”

Price said he “wrestled” long and hard with this decision, knowing they may have to “sacrifice” another line item in the budget book; the difficulty being the line item could be another person’s job. He said, above all, the decision was about the mandate the council has to protect the interest of the constituents.

“So we talk about lives, but we also have 50,000 people that dictate that we live within our means,” Price said. “If I could, I would give you the dollars, Chief Stahl, to handle 50 more police officers tomorrow, but that’s not in that book, it’s not in the budget.”

After the votes were cast and the decision was made, Stahl expressed resolve, saying the department “will continue to pursue any and all options as they become available.”

He went on to say Maricopa was one of only two cities in Arizona offered the grant, and the DOJ may not place the city in such high esteem the next time the grants are being offered.

Earlier in the night when opening his presentation he gave assurance to the city that despite the department being overextended in some areas, and no matter the decision reached regarding the grant, “we [the department] are not bleeding. We will not bleed.”

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Julia Gusse will again be on the Maricopa City Council, probably joined by sitting Vice Mayor Marvin Brown. Dan Frank and incumbent Bridger Kimball are trailing.

With a large number of ballots counted and votes tallied the city of Maricopa appears set for change in the coming years.

This election cycle, Maricopans had the chance to vote on four items that have the potential to alter the framework of their city. On the ballot were two local initiatives seeking approval and two city council seats needing to be filled.

In the race for the two council seats Vice Mayor Marvin Brown will apparently remain on the council.

If Brown maintains his lead he said he is happy to continue working to address issues concerning transportation and the flood plan, and that he will do whatever he can to bolster economic growth in the city.

“I’m honored and very grateful for their [Maricopa residents] support,” Brown said. “I look forward to working with the mayor and council and keep trying to bring as much business to Maricopa as we possibly can these next four years.”

Former council member Julia Gusse grabbed a strong early lead overall four candidates and is maintaining her ground with more than 900 votes over third place candidate Dan Frank. Gusse, too, is happy to return to the council and is elated that Maricopa residents have again chosen her.

“We’re excited, we worked hard and obviously the numbers show that,” Gusse said. “I’d like to make sure and get in a thank you for [voters’] support and having the confidence in me.”

Current council member Bridger Kimball is down nearly 1,200 votes behind Julia Gusse, and more than 500 votes behind Vice Mayor Brown.

Poll numbers show one of the initiatives, Prop. 415, the city’s new General Plan, will pass by a landslide of 81 percent. Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said because of their routine nature, city plans usually don’t see much opposition from constituents.

“You never take anything for granted in elections,” Price said. “But at the end of the day it’s a fairly benign thing.”

The second initiative, the education budget override for Maricopa Unified School District, started off behind but only by a slim margin of 96 votes. Maricopa City Council member and champion of the override Vincent Manfredi pointed out the city has attempted to pass similar overrides in the past but they have never started off so close.

“The override itself has been bombarded in Maricopa,” Manfredi said. “It failed numerous times in the past and it failed by a large margin.”

The override now appears to be leaning toward passage with a lead of more than 900 votes.

According to Arizona Secretary of State Director of Communications Matt Roberts there are nearly 53,500 outstanding provisional and early ballots in Pinal County being tallied.

Julia Gusse

By Julia Gusse

At the start of this election I requested your vote for the privilege to represent the great people of Maricopa as your councilmember.

I spoke on my resilience to represent you, just recently a local resident called me about an issue he was having with ED3. He (like myself and Mayor Christian Price) are Solar City customers with leased solar panels on our homes. This Maricopa resident purchased a new home and was requesting to have those panels transferred to his new property. Solar City had this option when we purchased the lease and therefore we all assumed this was a simple task. With the new solar regulations ED3 had established in 2015, this was not possible until I brought this to the city’s attention. Mayor Price worked with ED3 to have the terms of these lease transfers honored and as a result this issue was resolved. This is just one example of the resilience for which I will fight for, to assure that our residents are satisfied with my commitment of representing you.

I spoke on my resourcefulness to represent you, a few years ago (2011) when I started the Let’s Move program for our youth to stay active during the summer months, we did not have Copper Sky and had to rely on the generosity of our community partners (Maricopa Unified School District). I approached MUSD for their indoor gymnasiums to run basketball and other activities for the program, and they generously donated their facilities. Just recently the City Council debated the relocation of our senior groups once Copa Center is demolished for the overpass, and they came up empty without a solution. If I am elected, I will work with MUSD to see about facilitating a location for our seniors and creating a Memorandum of Understanding that will benefit all the taxpayers that contribute to MUSD regardless if they have children in the schools or not.

I was a teacher for MUSD and worked at Santa Cruz Elementary in the Tortosa community. I know for a fact that many of the classrooms at that location sit empty all year long. As taxpayers, our residents are paying for these classrooms to sit empty, why not use these locations for our seniors or an additional library since this city has outgrown our only library? This is a matter of being resourceful with what we have available within this city and I will work to assure that our residents are satisfied with my commitment of representing all of you.

Lastly, I spoke on my proven record as your councilmember (2010-2014). I missed all of two meeting dates within the 4.5 years that I served as your councilmember.  How many of you are aware that we have a councilmember that is running for reelection with a record of 32 absences in his 4.5 years of service?  I am committed to representing you and have a proven record of doing so.

I am resilient, resourceful and reliable with a proven record of keeping informed, actively participating at the decision making table and standing up for our constituents. I love the city we all call home and ask you for your vote but more importantly, please make an informed decision and vote.


Julia Romero Gusse is a candidate for Maricopa City Council.

Randi Kremer

By Randi Kremer

Having a very innate ability to run a small business, compiled with the “drive” to have my own store, brought me to the crossroad of my life that I wouldn’t soon forget.

When I purchased my business from the previous owner there was a lot to be accomplished to make the store “mine.” I needed to hear customer feedback in regards to what they wanted me to stock for sale. I also needed to evaluate the last few years’ sales. I most certainly needed to evaluate whether or not my new business venture would be successful, and I’m pretty sure that is what every new business owner does.

Well, I was fortunate enough to know Councilmember Bridger Kimball and I enlisted his help with the opening.

Not only did Bridger assist me with the permitting and licensing, he also assisted me with merchandising my entire store. He also helped me with my first pro-forma and helped me to project sales for the coming months . Councilmember Kimball also helped me navigate the tax code, the licensing process, as well as got me in touch with the City’s economic development department to help further my business growth. The City of Maricopa has been great in furthering my business’ future but Councilman Kimball has been an asset to me and others.

I ask for your support in making sure Bridger Kimball is re-elected to the city council so he can continue to help small business owners just like me. We, too, are important!


Randi Kremer is the owner of Copa’s Critters and Supplies.

Bridger Kimball

By Bridger Kimball

It has ultimately been a pleasure serving the citizens of Maricopa for the last four years and I would just like to outline some of my accomplishments while serving as well as outline my plans for the future when re-elected.

Being an effective member of the city council requires more than just ideas and compassion for your community; it requires one to be able to work well with the other members of council and at times ask for the other members to help you accomplish your goal/goals and convince them why your idea is a benefit for the community. Over the past four years I have effectively and efficiently been able to engage in cohesive conversation with my colleagues in helping to continue providing the best and highest quality municipal services to the citizens of our great city.

Here are some of the highlights of accomplishments that I am proud to have been a part of and issues that I have championed while serving you all:

Councilwoman Peg Chapados and I brought forward to a vote of the council to add the mayoral four-year term to the ballot in 2014 for a vote of the people to make it happen. We successfully accomplished that working together and the city is better off because of it.

Councilmember Vincent Manfredi and I brought forward to council the potential for a code change in allowing valid concealed carry permit holders to carry concealed firearms on city property. After lots of debate, and vetting, we were able to get that legislation passed and the city code changed to allow it.

Former Councilwoman Julia Gusse and I brought forward a resolution in support of our Armed Forces and our veterans to show the city’s support of these brave men and women. The mayor read that resolution at a council meeting in late 2013.

In 2014, with the help of city staff and the Blue Star Mothers of Maricopa, I was able to sponsor an ongoing program called the “Maricopa Boxes for the Brave,” which provides shipping for and cost for shipping to citizens who would like to send care packages overseas to our Armed Service members.

Also in 2014, with the help of city staff, I was able to start an annual veterans event titled “Maricopa Stand Up for Veterans,” an event that showcases valuable and imperative services that are provided to veterans in Pinal County and the surrounding areas.

In 2013 the city was faced with a tough choice when it came to budgeting for the Salsa Festival, and I chose to contribute $3,000 of my council discretionary funds to the Community Services Department to help fund a second stage so local performers could showcase their talents at the festival.

These are just a few examples of us, as a council, working together for the greater good of this city, as well as my personal passion for this city and the citizens I was elected to represent.

If re-elected to another four-year term, I promise to continue on the right path in making the decisions that I, as well as the council, see to be the best ones for all of the citizens of this great city. Having lived here for the past 13 years I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand what fast paced growth is like, positive economic development, transportation struggles, development struggles, and balancing a budget… just to name a few.

Having served for the past four years on the Budget Finance and Operations sub-committee I know, in depth, what it is like to balance the city’s budget and I will continue for the next four years being a fiscal steward of tax payer hard earned dollars as I have previously. I will also continue to retain my very unique voice on council and will also continue to collaborate with my colleagues in helping to continue to move Maricopa forward.

I will continue to be a solid voice for our public safety department and ensuring that as our population continues to grow, so do the resources that our Police and Fire Departments need to continue providing the best public safety in the state for our citizens.

I will continue to stand for what the citizens want when it comes to community events, the tax levy, the overpass project, new retail development, and helping to create jobs. This is what I was elected to do and I will continue to do so if re-elected.

We have accomplished so much, but there is a lot left to do and I am only one of two candidates on the November ballot that can continue our forward progress without having to endure a learning curve. I have dedicated my time and energy to not only this country as a Marine but also to this city as a councilmember, and will continue to do so for my love of this country, this city, my friendship with the citizens, and because I, too, live here and want to see our city prosper.


 Bridger Kimball is a member of the Maricopa City Council and running for re-election.

To see video of the candidates in the General Election debate Sept. 17, click here

The Beer Garden at Maricopa's Fourth of July event was a small, restricted area. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By R. Mason Callejas

The Maricopa City Council is considering an expansion of allocated space for beer sales and consumption at city festivals after hearing a proposal during their work session on Sept. 20.

Special Events Manager Niesha Whitman presented arguments for a larger beer garden during city sponsored festivals at Copper Sky Regional Park. The city has a contract with the local restaurant Native Grill & Wings to serve beer at the events. Though the company doesn’t always turn a profit on their investment in the events, the city still receives 25 percent of overall sales.

Whitman suggested that by allowing a larger area to mingle and roam, event goers will be more likely to partake in the libations, thus increasing the city’s cash take from these events.

“This [the expansion] could potentially increase revenue for the city,” Whitman said, “because we will have increased alcohol sales.”

Expanding the beer garden, however, would require an initial investment from the city. The city would need to purchase 3,000 linear feet of fencing at a cost of $20,565.68 to comply with an ordinance that prohibits “public” consumption of alcohol. By fencing off the events, the city is also able to tally a more accurate headcount for attendance at the events.

A more modest proposal of only 2,100 linear feet of fence was also made. However, exact cost was not discussed. Councilmembers Vincent Manfredi and Nancy Smith supported the smaller proposition which, though still much larger than the previous beer garden, would allow for more “family friendly” space at the festivals.

According to Whitman’s presentation, renting the fence would cost the city about $3,500 per event, thus with more than four events a year the fence would theoretically pay for itself after only two years of use. The temporary fence also has the added benefit of being used for any number of other city events in Copper Sky or elsewhere.

Possible $1 beer garden entry fees were discussed along with the idea of drink tickets.

Though nothing was approved the idea of the expansion seemed to garner unanimous support and is likely to move forward.

Dan Frank

By Dan Frank

Floodplains are a priority concern for the City of Maricopa because they impact economic development and public safety. You don’t have to look too far back in Maricopa’s history to see impacts of flooding. October 2016 will be 33 years since the record flood of 1983, when Tropical Storm Octave dumped 12 inches of rain in parts of Arizona.  The region was hit again in 1993 by a series of winter storms that had a devastating cumulative impact on the State, but thankfully a lesser impact on Maricopa due to improvements to the channels.

An Army Corps of Engineers report from July 2015 states “…a major flood the magnitude of 1983 today could devastate the entire region.”  As president of the Maricopa Flood Control District Board and a civil engineer with 20+ years of experience in drainage and flood control, floodplains and flooding are priority concerns of mine.

Maricopa is roughly 42 square miles, with approximately 13 square miles of land in the floodplain – roughly 30 percent of our land area.  This is prime development land, and while the Santa Cruz watershed is currently under study by the Army Corps of Engineers, solutions are needed that will benefit residents, stakeholders and facilitate future growth.

One of my concerns is residents who, based on where they live, are required to pay expensive flood insurance premiums, which can be thousands of dollars annually. They purchased their homes in good faith prior to a study which placed them in the floodplain.  I find it intolerable that residents are left to languish in the floodplain when there are implementable solutions.

The potential for flooding should be a concern for everyone in Maricopa. I’ve spoken with residents who recounted the devastation and challenges of the ’83 event. They described how they were cut off from help because access was compromised by flooding. Some had to be evacuated by helicopter due to medical issues.

Another concern is deferred maintenance of the Santa Rosa north of Rancho El Dorado, which could lead to a “debris dam” of trees and brush blocking the bridge, forcing water around the abutments and washing out the roadway.  We need to partner with Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) toward a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding maintenance of the Santa Rosa.

To resolve these issues, we need to mitigate flooding potential. Solutions should put residents needs first, but they will ultimately benefit development overall. We also need to develop a plan with GRIC for maintenance of the waterways north of town.

I look forward to serving as councilmember again. I will offer my 20+ years of experience as a civil engineer to identify and implement solutions for critical flood control issues.  By having a seat on both the Maricopa Flood Control District and Maricopa City Council, I will be able to use my knowledge, experience and expertise networks to bring about positive change to these critical issues.  Thank you.


Dan Frank is president of the Maricopa Flood Control District Board and a candidate for city council.

 

Maricopa-flood-plains

Joshua Babb. (photo by Tyler Loveall)

By Joshua Babb

At the City Council debate on Monday, July 25, I was asked whether or not I supported the MUSD budget override. I stated at that time I was undecided I had many important questions that were not answered at that point.

I asked for a meeting with the chairman of the Vote Yes Maricopa committee, Vince Manfredi, and Dr. Steve Chestnut, MUSD superintendent, to answer some of the questions that I had on the issue. Both graciously gave up their time to meet with me and answered several questions in follow-up messages. One of the most important dealt with accountability. The question is, “How will taxpayers be assured that override revenue will do what it’s intended to do?”

I asked this because once the override is approved taxpayers shouldn’t have to wait several years to know if they made the right decision. It is important to me to keep the community informed on how their tax dollars are being spent and if it was a good investment. I was assured that the district would look at putting together a forum of communication that will keep voters informed on MUSD performance.

My next concerns were targeted at the current budgeting and planning so an override would not be necessary in seven years. Dr. Chestnut talked about working with the state to get the funding the school needed. As you and I know, the state Legislature has a history of raiding the education piggy bank to address economic downturn or balance the budget. This needs to stop and voters need to address these issues by voting out any legislator who supports raiding school funding. The state is responsible for funding schools and if it’s properly done, local communities won’t have to tax themselves to make up for shortfalls.

I am now confident in supporting the override.

There are still a few things Maricopa residents need to ask the school board, on a continuing basis and I will take the lead in doing that. I will, as a citizen or councilmember, work with MUSD and the School Board to answer these very important questions:

* “What are you doing to turn around those sixteen or so school busses that are leaving Maricopa every day?” We have a shop-local campaign – maybe we need an “educate local” campaign to convince parents and students that they’re needed and wanted here in Maricopa. Every student that attends school in MUSD brings along revenue that is needed to fund our schools and help make overrides unnecessary.
* What is MUSD long term strategy to ensure we don’t need future overrides?

We need outside-of-the-box solutions to decrease spending and increase classroom education.

Maricopa needs to stand on its own. Economic development depends on having a great local school district. At present, we are outsourcing the education of our kids to the Kyrene and Tempe districts because they have more programs and better overall ratings.

I invite all residents that have any questions for me about my views on the override to contact me and I will gladly sit down and discuss my thoughts. I also welcome any discussion with the current School Board.

I approached this question like I will any issue that I am presented with as your councilmember. I will get the facts and vote from a position of being informed rather that what seems to be popular at the moment. I hope that each of you will vote the same way.


Joshua Babb is a Maricopa resident and a candidate for city council.

Candidates for three seats on the Maricopa City Council are (from right) Joshua Babb, Marvin Brown, Dan Frank, Julia Gusse, Bridger Kimball, Leon Porter (all photos by Tyler Loveall) and Nancy Smith (photo by William Lange).

Seven people are running for three seats on the Maricopa City Council. The Primary Election is Aug. 30. Early voting begins Aug. 3.

Joshua Babb

Joshua Babb. Photo by Tyler Loveall
Joshua Babb. Photo by Tyler Loveall

Age: 30
Hometown: Vancouver, Washington
Years in Maricopa: Four
Family: Wife (Charsty), four daughters (Akira, Aurora, Ariella, Abigail)
Education: I have a certification in retail sales management, project management and several information technology certifications.
Professional background: Strategic National Consultant for Verizon, responsible for project management on a national level from concept to implementation.
Service organizations: Maricopa Fire Department Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Maricopa Amateur Radio Association, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Boy Scouts of America
Like most about Maricopa: I like how close we are as a community, and how we come to each other’s aid in times of need. Unfortunately, this is rare in many communities today. I also enjoy our community events such as the Great American Fourth of July and the Salsa Festival, and the small-town feel that comes along with them – not to mention that Maricopa never loses a contest!
Like least about Maricopa: The 347 commute, high utility rates, lack of employment opportunity within the city.
Describe the current state of Maricopa in three words: Future is now
Favorite leisure-time activity in Maricopa: Fishing, community events and community volunteer work
Favorite sports team: I don’t have a favorite sports team. Live long and prosper!
Favorite quote: “There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.” – Alexander Hamilton

Why are you running for city council?
I want to bring my ideas for ways we can lower the cost of living in our great city. I want to promote more jobs, and not just in retail sales. I would like to promote the growth of light industry so our residents have a choice not to commute elsewhere.

What two concerns does Maricopa face that could have a stronger approach, and how will you address them? The first concern I would have a strong approach on is economic development. Maricopa needs more jobs inside the city. I will focus on bringing companies into Maricopa that will provide good-paying, full time jobs. With more companies in Maricopa we will also alleviate the 347 congestion. Second, utilities. While most Maricopa households struggled to survive the current economic downturn, Global Water chose to increase rates and Electrical District 3 acted to suppress solar energy by limiting the number of solar installations in Maricopa. As a member of council I will challenge the utilities whenever there is a rate increase.

Explain your approach to government spending.
My approach is that of a fiscal conservative. I believe cities, just like citizens, should maintain a balanced budget and that means not spending more than they take in. Also, by maintaining city services in balance, saving and building to our 2040 vision, we can maintain low tax rates for years to come.

On what issues do you think you can be a voice of leadership on the council?
I will be a voice for the community on economic development, road improvements, flood planning and utilities.


Marvin L. Brown

Marvin Brown. Photo by Tyler Loveall
Marvin Brown. Photo by Tyler Loveall

Age: 81
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Years in Maricopa: 10
Family: Wife, three daughters
Education: Urban Studies, University of Wisconsin – Madison; American Institute of Banking, Wayne State University
Professional background: Management
Hobbies: Reading historical biographies
Service organizations: Kiwanis Club, Lafayette Park, Travelers Aide Society, Chairman of Detroit Non-Profit Housing Corp.
Like most about Maricopa: Warmth and friendliness of its people
Like least about Maricopa: One way in and one way out
Describe the current state of Maricopa in three words: On upward trajectory
Favorite leisure-time activity in Maricopa: Cards and games; shooting pool with friends.
Favorite sports team: Spurs and Steelers
Favorite quote: “It’s possible that people will overlook outright brutality sooner than they forgive undisguised contempt.” – Christopher Hitchens

Why are you running for city council?
I have been involved with a number of organizations and projects, which positively impact Maricopa. I would like to see the completion of the grade separation, which I have been involved with for eight years.

What two concerns does Maricopa face that could have a stronger approach, and how will you address them?  Maricopa needs a much greater footprint in major retail and light industry.  I supported the expansion of our Economic Development Department, which will allow greater outreach to those industries.   Maricopa also has a major flood plain issue, which will stymie development.  I serve on the lower Santa Cruz River Alliance along with 30 other stake holders, including three tribal communities, to deal with that issue.  We need to prevent the kind of flooding which occurred in 1983 and 1993 which devastated Maricopa.

Explain your approach to government spending.
I think any government, federal, state or local, should be prudent in the expenditure of public money. I do believe, however, that you should never be so frugal as to prevent proper services being provided.

On what issues do you think you can be a voice of leadership on the council?
Every issue.


Dan Frank

Dan Frank. Photo by Tyler Loveall
Dan Frank. Photo by Tyler Loveall

Age: 49
Hometown: San Bernardino, California
Years in Maricopa: 11
Family: Wife Tina, daughters Andrea, Sabra, Chantelle and Sharlee
Education: B.S. Civil Engineering, Arizona State University
Professional background: 20-plus years as civil engineer; 16 years working in the corporate world, vice president 2008-12; works as consultant of own company (DCF Consulting) providing a range of civil engineering solutions.
Hobbies: Mountain biking, hiking, gardening
Service organizations: Central Arizona Mountain Rescue Association (since 2001, past president), Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Mountain Rescue Posse (since 2001, inactive during campaign), Habitat for Humanity
Like most about Maricopa: The small-town feel, camaraderie and sense of pride!
Like least about Maricopa: The lack of adequate bike and pedestrian routes within the city
Describe the current state of Maricopa in three words: Steadily moving forward
Favorite leisure-time activity in Maricopa: Playing softball or pickleball at Copper Sky
Favorite sports team: I am too busy to have a favorite team, but I do enjoy going to a Suns or Cardinals game from time-to-time.
Favorite quote: “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Why are you running for city council?
I have a heart for serving the community and I want to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that we are not only doing things right but we are doing the right things. My experience, background and qualifications are well suited for this time in our community’s growth.

What two concerns does Maricopa face that could have a stronger approach, and how will you address them?  As a civil engineer, my focus is finding solutions, and the floodplains are areas of concern.  Not just the major watercourses, like the Santa Cruz, but neighborhoods like Desert Cedars, Maricopa Meadows, Tortosa and the Heritage District need affordable, viable solutions to completely removed them from the floodplain. I have already identified possible solutions.

Improving and expanding transportation linkages to the valley is also a chief concern.  This was identified as a goal of the City’s 2040 Vision (which I was chairman of). I believe my background and relationships as a civil engineer will help bring about implementable solutions.

Explain your approach to government spending.
In regards to budgeting, I am conservative. I believe in a balanced budget, not only in my personal life but in business and government as well. We should strive to avoid debt whenever possible, not incur additional debt without thorough research and justifications on the project purpose, cost and benefits.

On what issues do you think you can be a voice of leadership on the council?
As president of the Flood Control District, I can help facilitate rapid improvements to the floodplains that impact Maricopa.


Julia Romero Gusse

Julia Gusse. Photo by Tyler Loveall
Julia Gusse. Photo by Tyler Loveall

Age: 46
Hometown: East Los Angeles, California
Years in Maricopa: 12
Family: Married with three children, three siblings (two of which reside in Maricopa with their families), in-laws in Minnesota and parents/extended family in Southern California.
Education: BA (California State University), MA (University of Arizona) and applying for a Ph.D. program (Arizona State University).
Professional background: Veterans Upward Bound Program Coordinator at Arizona State University. Former employee of the City of Maricopa and a former councilmember (2010–2014). Licensed AZ Realtor since 2005 and currently with The Maricopa Real Estate Company. Former sixth grade teacher at MUSD.
Hobbies: Real estate; everything from buying and selling to maintaining and remodeling rental properties.
Service organizations: Founder/President of VetIT, Inc., a Maricopa based nonprofit veteran 501(c)3 organization. Former commander of Maricopa American Legion Post #133. Former president of Maricopa American Legion Auxiliary Unit 133. Volunteer with Girl Scouts of America for over 15 years, a Maricopa Ak-Chin STEAM Foundation Board Member and currently the State of Arizona Selective Service System Board Member (aka the Draft Board).
Like most about Maricopa: The peaceful small town feel and the people; the teachers, coaches, volunteers, PD/FD/City employees and all the many friends and family we have in Maricopa.
Like least about Maricopa: Arizona State Route 347; we need a better solution than the “one way in and one way out.”
Describe the current state of Maricopa in three words: Optimistically prosperous community
Favorite leisure-time activity in Maricopa: Spending time with my family and friends; I especially like the Ak-Chin Circle (movies, dinning, bowling) just down the road from my home.
Favorite sports team: American Legion Post #133 Baseball team and the Maricopa High School Baseball teams.
Favorite quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Why are you running for city council?
I am running for the privilege to continue where I left off. I say it is a privilege because the people of Maricopa elect seven individuals to represent over 47,000 residents. I am a resilient and resourceful veteran with the moxie to take on difficult issues and find reasonable solutions.

What two concerns does Maricopa face that could have a stronger approach, and how will you address them? Maricopa’s major concerns are utilities and lack of jobs.  This is a bedroom community, and unless our elected officials start working for us, this is all we will ever be.  In the last two years since I have been off council, our elected officials did not fight to reduce utilities.  On the contrary, they approved a trash service rate increase and allowed ED3 to take credits from future solar users. The strongest approach is to work with the utility companies in ways that our residents and new businesses will benefit in order to keep and attract future residents/employers.

Explain your approach to government spending.
Is anyone worried about the city’s $15 million (possibly more) contribution to the 347 overpass that is/will be owned by ADOT? Did you know that there was a $180K solution to the Amtrak passenger loading/unloading obstruction? I want to bring transparency and common sense to our city’s government spending.

On what issues do you think you can be a voice of leadership on the council?
All issues. I have been the voice of leadership when many remained silent on issues that mattered to the people.


 

Bridger Kimball

Bridger Kimball. Photo by Tyler Loveall
Bridger Kimball. Photo by Tyler Loveall

Age: 35
Hometown: Arizona Native
Years in Maricopa: 13
Family: Wife Mary Kimball, stepsons Liam and Keegan
Education: Mountain Pointe High School
Professional background: Co-owner of Caswells Shooting Range
Hobbies: Off-roading in my RZR, camping and fishing
Like most about Maricopa: Community camaraderie
Like least about Maricopa: That its 40 miles from my store
Describe the current state of Maricopa in three words: Progressing along nicely
Favorite leisure-time activity in Maricopa: Watching movies at UltraStar
Favorite sports team: AZ Cardinals
Favorite quote: Too many great ones to choose just one

Why are you running for city council?
I will continue to be a strong voice on council in helping to guide our future in a positive direction as I have been for the last four years – focusing on helping our veteran community, enhancing economic development, and providing the highest quality municipal services we can to the citizens.

What two concerns does Maricopa face that could have a stronger approach, and how will you address them?  I feel as though all concerns facing our city have been met with a very strong approach during my time on council and it seems as though many of those concerns have been not only addressed but either handled or are in the works of being handled.  Only one really sticks out in my mind at the present moment and that is of the 1% tax cap.  We, as a council, need to work with our state legislators to fix this issue in the very near future.

Explain your approach to government spending.
Government spending at a municipal level should be looked at just like a business. Setting a balanced budget every year for what the city needs to provide excellent services for the citizens. Not spending what we don’t take in and not using tax dollars in excess for unnecessary things.

On what issues do you think you can be a voice of leadership on the council?
I have proven to have been on the following: Firearms Ordinances, Community Events, Economic Development, Public Safety, Budgeting, Veteran Services


Leon Potter

Leon Potter. Photo by Tyler Loveall
Leon Potter. Photo by Tyler Loveall

Age:45
Hometown: Ontario, California
Years in Maricopa: 11
Family: Wife of 25 years Gabriela Potter, three children Michelle (20), Alan (19), Leon (11), one granddaughter Aileen (almost 3)
Education: AA Business Administration, Central Arizona College
Professional background: U.S. Navy (11 years), tax accountant (17 years) with Enrolled Agent designation since 2008
Hobbies: Reading, youth sports coach
Service organizations: Past president of Maricopa Rotary Club
Like most about Maricopa: Close enough and far enough from Phoenix Metro at the same time
Like least about Maricopa: East side of town needs more commercial development
Describe the current state of Maricopa in three words: Strong family community
Favorite leisure-time activity in Maricopa: Movies at UltraStar
Favorite sports team: Arena Football Rattlers
Favorite quote: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)

Why are you running for city council?
For nearly two years, I enjoyed my experience and I took being an elected representative seriously. I resigned, or quit, in 2014. Although I stand by my decision, I have learned from the experience. I would do things differently and complete a full term if elected again.

What two concerns does Maricopa face that could have a stronger approach, and how will you address them?     1. Highway 347 is main thoroughfare to Phoenix Metro. Work with Gila River to negotiate an alternate route.

2. Although progress has been made in economic development, more can be done in the east part of Maricopa. More jobs and traffic relief away from 347/John Wayne Parkway. Focus attention to Tortosa area to find solutions available, and work with state Legislature for solutions that are used by other states that aren’t available in Arizona.

Explain your approach to government spending.  
Zero-based budget, determine priorities, determine cost of priorities, project revenues (conservative estimate), shift funding in line with priorities, have reserve funds in case of unforeseen challenges or opportunities.

On what issues do you think you can be a voice of leadership on the council?
As a board member of Maricopa Community Alliance Against Substance Abuse, I am driven to be a positive role model.


Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith. Submitted photo
Nancy Smith. Submitted photo

Age: Would not disclose
Hometown: Joliet, Illinois
Years in Maricopa: 13
Family: Husband, five children
Education: Associate’s degree in Electronic Technology, bachelor’s degree Business Management
Professional background: 30 years in program management at Motorola and General Dynamics
Hobbies: Crafts, sports, hanging out with family
Service organizations: Six years with American Cancer Society – Relay For Life, Co-founder F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank
Like most about Maricopa: Maricopa’s community spirit is the best that I have ever seen or experienced in any city that I have ever lived.
Like least about Maricopa: I travel SR347 almost every day. I’m so excited that if the voters approve Pinal County’s Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) that SR 347 will go from four lanes to six lanes.
Describe the current state of Maricopa in three words: City of changes
Favorite leisure-time activity in Maricopa: Attending community events and just being out in the community
Favorite sports team: Chicago Cubs
Favorite quote: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Muhammad Ali

Why are you running for city council?
I am running for city council to continue the mission of bringing a fiscal conservative approach for our wonderful community with services at the lowest cost to residents. I enjoy meeting with residents over their concerns regarding issues in our city and helping them resolve these issues.

What two concerns does Maricopa face that could have a stronger approach, and how will you address them?   Global Water continues to be my biggest concern. I believe the city needs to own and operate our water/wastewater company. As promised in my previous campaign I have kept this issue alive by discussing it every time city council is budgeting and strategically planning. We have made progress! This project is now stated clearly in the Vision 2040 document and is part of the 2016/2017 Work Plan. The second concern is continuing to strengthen our Economic Development strategy. I will work to ensure we are providing our ED department with the tools, strategies and direction needed to succeed.

Explain your approach to government spending.
My approach is to provide great services at the least cost. Finding ways to lower our property tax rate will help residents and encourage new businesses to move to Maricopa. I was rated as “Hero of the Taxpayer” by Americans for Prosperity for voting conservatively on budget issues.

On what issues do you think you can be a voice of leadership on the council?
I will continue being a leader regarding Global Water buy-out, Transportation (SR347), Heritage District, Age-Friendly Senior Citizens and fiscal responsibility.


This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

It was standing-room-only in council chambers at City Hall for a primary election debate among seven candidates, including Joshua Babb (pictured). Photo by Tyler Loveall

Traffic on State Route 347, economic development, utility rates, the override at Maricopa Unified School District, the library and the flood plain were all topics of discussion at Monday’s debate forum among seven candidates for three seats on the Maricopa City Council.

Most of the candidates brought up SR 347 as a major issue to tackle.

The terms of Vice Mayor Marvin Brown and councilmembers Bridger Kimball and Nancy Smith are coming to an end this year, and all are running for re-election. Challengers are former councilmembers Dan Frank, Julia Gusse and Leon Potter and newcomer Joshua Babb.

Smith did not attend the debate but was allowed to participate by phone.

The forum was moderated by Sara Troyer, executive director of the Maricopa Chamber of Commerce.

When asked what change or conflict they would like to be involved in resolving:

Potter: Economic development on the east side of Maricopa

Brown: The change is already happening

Frank: SR 347

Babb: SR 347

Kimball: 1-percent tax cap

Gusse: Veterans services

Smith: SR 347 and 1-percent tax cap

Mayor Christian Price is running unopposed but did address the audience briefly. Photo by Tyler Loveall
Mayor Christian Price is running unopposed but did address the audience briefly. Photo by Tyler Loveall

With several mentions of the looming impact of the state’s 1-percent tax cap, Mayor Christian Price gave a “Reader’s Digest” overview of the issue at the end of the debate. Price is running unopposed for re-election. He said no state legislators understand the issue or how a government entity like the city of Maricopa is penalized for the actions of other jurisdictions.

The candidates mulled ways to tackle utility rates from Global Water. The idea of using bonds to purchase the water/sewer utility was floated by Potter. Gusse said the council must put forth a unified front in dealing with Global Water. Brown, reminding the audience of a committee formed to negotiate with the company, said buying a utility would be “very costly.”

Frank, who was chairman of the 2040 Vision committee that collected information for future planning, said “we heard over and over how the utility rates are negatively impacting” residents. But, he added, it might not be the right time for a feasibility study on purchasing the water utility.

Kimball said buying the utility is no guarantee the rates will go down.

When asked if they are supporting the MUSD override: See related editorial

Potter: Yes – “Class sizes were the reason I put my kids in a charter.”

Brown: Yes – “I was in favor of all the previous overrides.”

Frank: Did not answer – “Everyone has to vote their own conscience.”

Babb: Undecided – “Education is important to me … but you can’t throw money at a problem to fix it.”

Kimball: Yes – “I absolutely support the override.”

Gusse: Yes – “Our teachers are overworked, underpaid and not appreciated.”

Smith: Undecided – “The use of funds is clearly stated… All my criteria have been met… It’s the best organized override campaign… I have not made up my mind.”

Maricopa Public Library is a relatively new building but is considered too small for the community. While all candidates spoke highly of the library and noted its importance, there was reluctance to allocating money for a new library anytime soon.

Kimball said the reins were tight on all city departments in the current budget, and the library received about half of the money it needed. Frank said, with the city’s tight budget, it is not a good time to be taking on more debt.

Babb suggested creating a mobile library to further reach the community. Smith and Gusse used examples from other communities of libraries sharing space with schools or other government buildings.

Fielding personal questions about their candidacy after their previous controversial terms on council, Potter said he stands by his reasons for resigning, and Gusse there is a double-standard for women who speak their mind. Potter resigned from council to run for mayor after trying to recall Kimball. Gusse received an official warning from council after a violation of an ethics code she helped write.

“What made me run again was my love for Maricopa,” Potter said. “Trust is something that has to be earned.”

Gusse said she has been standing by her convictions and inferred she would have been treated differently had she been a man in the same circumstances.

Frank also previously served on council as an appointed member to fill out a term. He is now chairman of the Maricopa Flood Control District Board. He said serving on the board and the city council would not be a conflict of interest. Frank said he is concerned about the high insurance rates paid by homeowners in the floodplain, calling it “unacceptable.”

Candidates who survive the Aug. 30 primary and are not elected outright will be asked to participate in a general election debate in the fall.