Mayor Christian Price will always work to advance the causes of the city he loves.
After serving as Maricopa’s mayor for the last decade, Price will resign to take the role of president and CEO of the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance, a private, nonprofit entity with a city contract to help attract industry and jobs.
With his new position, Price’s job will, in many ways, mirror the job he currently holds: help bring new economic opportunities to Maricopa.
“I’m still here,” Price said. “I’m taking the knowledge that I’ve garnered on the job for Maricopa and I want to take it to the next level. I think we have an amazing Council and there will be a great mayor, whoever that person ends up being. The future is bright and the sky’s the limit.”
There is still two years left on Price’s four-year term as mayor. The timing of his resignation means there is no chance for potential candidates to garner the necessary signatures to get on the ballot for this year’s election. As a result, Maricopa’s next mayor will be chosen by the City Council.
As Price explained, the process isn’t much different than what’s employed by many other municipalities.
“We’re an at-large city, meaning the public votes in the mayor,” Price said. “But there are many cities and towns where the mayor is selected by the City Council.”
Vice Mayor Vincent Manfredi will serve as interim mayor until a new mayor is selected.
As mayor, Price has one of seven votes on the City Council. The first order of business for the Council will be to select a seventh member to replace Price’s vote. Soon after, the Council will select a mayor from the seven serving councilmembers, who will serve out the remaining two years of Price’s term.
Manfredi said the process to select a new mayor will begin immediately.
“We will get legal advice and define the process prior to his departure,” Manfredi said. “We will meet as a council and set a timeline. I suspect by year-end, we will have a mayor in place who will serve until an election can be held in 2024.”
A tough decision
Price has spent the last 10 years as mayor. In many ways, he has become the job and it’s become a part of his identity. A little over a month ago, MEDA approached Price. The answer wasn’t immediate.
“I said, look, I need some time to think about it,” Price said. “I need some time to work through this because, you know, there’s a whole lot of emotions that run through your head when you’ve enjoyed something so much. And you know, the last thing I want to do is feel like I’m abandoning my post. I certainly don’t want to do that.”
But with time, Price started to come to the realization that the move was really the continuation of the job he’s already doing.
“I have really looked at this deeply,” Price said. “I’m helping even more because I get to hyperfocus on this job of bringing industry here, and that was very exciting to me.”
Price will answer directly to MEDA’s board of directors, comprised of business leaders throughout Maricopa. He feels with the structural changes the board has made, it’s ready for success and he’s excited to be at the helm. He’ll have a staff of 3-5 people who will work to attract companies to partner with the city to bring jobs and economic prosperity.
“We are working in a formation,” Price said. “It’s like forming the tip of the spear that has never really been there before and that’s exciting.”
For Price, there are a lot of stories to tell from his tenure as mayor and city denizen. He bought his home in Maricopa in 2005, and then watched it lose 80 percent of its value in just a few years as the city was devastated by the Great Recession, where a boom became a bust in a matter of a few years.
Nowadays, there’s no doubt the city has fully recovered. But even as late as 2011, when Price was considering running for mayor, there were doubters.
“I remember when I was thinking about it, and I contacted a friend to run my campaign, she told me, ‘The only reservation I have is that everyone is wanting to leave Maricopa,’” Price recalled. “Everybody wanted to leave this city that I knew. Everybody. They wanted to get out. They thought it was the middle of the recession. They were angry. They had been promised something and I tried to come in with a little bit of optimism and a little bit of belief that, hey, it’s going to be OK.”
The struggle during those early years makes it even more special for Price.
“I knew we were going to grow through this and were going to find a way to make it happen,” Price said.
When Price took the mayoral reins in 2012, Maricopa was a good deal smaller than it is now. But as he sees it, leading a city looking to grow is just as big a challenge as leading a city now nearly twice the size as when he took over.
“It’s all relative,” Price said. “Back then, I was working just as hard because I was learning on the job. I didn’t know the right people. I was trying to get to know the Council at the time and how to work effectively with them. There were so many hurdles to overcome.”
Editor’s note: Vincent Manfredi is co-owner of InMaricopa.