Eric Goettl may be new to Maricopa City Council, but in many ways, he has been training for this his entire life.
Service to others is in his DNA: to his church, law enforcement, community safety, youth groups, government committees – everything except elected office.
His plan was to run for City Council in 2024, but that accelerated after former Mayor Christian Price’s resignation June 30 and councilmember Nancy Smith’s appointment as mayor in August, leaving a seat open.
“My wife and I made the decision a long time ago to be involved in the city,” said Goettl, 48. “My wife and I have been active, more on the ecclesiastical side to this point. I have always had an interest in public service, and I had my ear to the ground, including speaking with former Mayor Christian Price to see when it might be a good time to throw my hat in the ring.
“When this seat came open, it was the perfect time for me and my family to jump in.”
He and Carrie, his wife of 27 years, have five children.
“It’s been a long process. Since we moved here in 2004, I’ve looked for various ways to serve, and this time everything was right,” he said.
Goettl’s priorities are transportation and growth.
“The growth is going to come, so we need to determine how we are going to manage it,” he said. “We have to have a longer-term vision to follow. Strategically, we have to look at all the economic-growth needs, not just jobs but careers. We need more diversity of housing. Infrastructure is crucial. And the water issue is a key, not just here, but all around the state.
“We need to be sure we have a way to grow smartly while maintaining Maricopa’s identity. I want to make a city out of this place, not just a place for people to sleep and then go work somewhere else.”
Goettl has been involved in several community issues and worked with Boy Scouts of America, For Our City Maricopa, Community Organizations Active in Disaster, Maricopa Police Department Citizen Advisory Committee and Community Emergency Response Team.
He is president of the Quorum of Elders in the Butterfield ward of the LDS church in Maricopa and is a principal of a Tempe Mission program providing release time seminary programs in Maricopa.
Goettl believes that his religious training and faith will be assets on City Council.
“I want to emphatically state that I am my own person,” he said. “I do my own research and I am not beholden to any group, including the church. My morals, principals come from my God and my church, but there are no other connections. There is no connection between the church and decisions I’ll be making on behalf of our citizens. That will be decided on the merits of each item we consider.
“For real and important reasons, our founders set up those separations. The constitution was set up so the state can’t control the church, but it works both ways. But despite that, we look for people with high morals to lead our state and for me, that moral compass comes from the church.”
Price, also a member of the LDS Church, believes that Goettl’s religious background and church work will serve him well in public service.
“The mayor of Chandler, Kevin Hartke, is a pastor,” Price said. “I think religious people are definitely cut out for public office because they tend to be focused on integrity and service, and that certainly describes Eric.
“He is a religious educator, and when talking with him before the Council decision, we talked about what he brought to the table. I told him educators listen and learn. Look at (Councilmember) Amber Liermann. She’s an educator and she’s doing a great job. I think he will be an effective member of Council because he can communicate with the population and find out what their priorities are, then bring that to Council. Conversely, he will also be able to absorb the government and legal language and go back to constituents and explain the issues in layman’s terms.”
Liermann observed Goettl has been no stranger at City Council meetings.
Several councilmembers mentioned Goettl’s preparation while they discussed merits of the 19 candidates who applied (Goettl prevailed over the other finalist, Planning & Zoning Commissioner Bill Robertson, by a 4-2 vote).
Mayor Nancy Smith noted that “preparing is a very important part of being informed to make good decisions.”
Goettl requested a meeting with every council member before applying and interviewed them about what is required, what is expected, what it would look like if he became a member.
“During our conversation, I sensed a humble, learning, service attitude that I believe are qualities of a Council member,” Liermann said. “He asked a lot of good questions and took notes during our meeting. Eric has fit in well. He has a heart for Maricopa and desires to serve.”