Even as her vote totals increased and launched her into third place, it didn’t sink in for Amber Liermann on primary election night that she was heading for a runoff for city council until the offers came.
“How can I help?”
“How can I support you?”
Liermann, in her first run for public office, said people were getting in touch to lend assistance, not only her tried-and-true supporters but some reaching out for the first time.
“I was trailing and then I had moved up and so I was getting a lot of feedback from people,” Liermann said. “That was when I realized I would be continuing in the race and it became very exciting and exhilarating. My mind just started going, as far as what I can do to re-strategize and refocus. I woke up really early the next morning and started right away to making plans.”
Liermann, 46, grabbed onto third place late Tuesday night and hasn’t let go, even as incumbent Julia Gusse and challenger Andre LaFond tussle for the right to oppose her in the general election.
At the end of the final day of counting, Liermann had 3,383 votes, or 16.11% of the 20,997 votes cast in the race. Gusse led the race for fourth place until LaFond leapfrogged her as the vote counting continued on Saturday. He ended up with just 15 more votes than Gusse.
Liermann said the issues at the forefront of her campaign – the social, medical and mental health needs of the community – connected with voters.
“I’ve been calling voters on the phone for the last two months and the conversations that I’ve been having with people is where we’re at right now with everything that’s going on. Meeting the basic needs … of our community is shifting into a priority,” she said.
“My focus is on supporting families and helping them to achieve the hopes and dreams and goals that they had when they moved to Maricopa, and identifying barriers and obstacles to achieving those goals,” she said.
She said part of that goal is recognizing that two separate and distinct types of infrastructure are key to the city’s future.
“Maricopa has focused on the physical infrastructure, which we need to continue to do. But there is another infrastructure that Maricopa lacks, and that’s the infrastructure that I’m interested in building and strengthening,” she said. “The social service infrastructure where we have programs that families can access to help support them through the difficulties they experience in their lives.”
Liermann, a counselor in the Maricopa Unified School District, said she believes her community service differentiates her from LaFond.
“I’ve lived here for nearly 17 years and I’ve served this community and the families and youth in this community since Day One,” she said. “I have built relationships with families, business owners and leaders in our community. That’s a big difference between me and (LaFond).”
“I live, work, play and worship in Maricopa. I will continue to do that,” she continued, noting relationships built through the Copa Closet program she founded and her work with a social services agency for veterans. “I value the connections and partnerships that I have with social service agencies and businesses in Maricopa because it’s those connections that help families in need.”
“I would like to humbly ask for their vote as a longtime resident working hard on serving Maricopa in many different ways.”
Don’t expect a chippy runoff campaign if Liermann has anything to say about it.
“I don’t anticipate it being confrontational,” she said, adding that her interactions with LaFond to date have been pleasant. “He’s very polite and respectful, so there’s nothing that would give me that impression.”
“I’m a very professional person and I have a lot of integrity and respect for myself and would continue to conduct myself in a professional and respectful manner.”
She said all six candidates for city council were “very qualified … so I’m confident that our city will make the right decision.”
The political novice thanked state Rep. Bret Roberts, former state Sen. Steve Smith and the City of Maricopa Police Association for their endorsements.
“I want to thank my campaign committee for believing in me and working on my behalf,” she said. “And I want to thank my family and friends for their support. I cannot wait to get to work.”