In his annual State of the City presentation, Mayor Christian Price offered a bold but attainable vision of the future grounded in the past. He touched on subjects important to Maricopa residents, such as transportation, growing the economy and continuing to improve the efficiency of local government.
“I believe the very best way to predict the future is simply to create it,” Price said, establishing early one of his central themes for the evening: the importance of a bold vision for Maricopa’s future.
Before the event, anticipation ran high, with a number of attendees curious about what fun plans Price had up his sleeve. His State of the City presentations have become known for his innovative and fun introductions. Last year the mayor zip-lined in, while the year before he made a video of himself in an indoor skydiving facility to make it appear as if he parachuted in.
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“I have no idea what Christian is going to do, because he is a wild card, he could do anything,” said Maricopa resident Linda Huggins. “I’d just like to see where he feels the future of Maricopa is going to be.”
Hollace Lyon, Democratic candidate for the state senate seat for District One, had a suspicion that the mayor’s entrance might involve a DeLorean.
“I’m excited to see if he can fit in one, because he’s a pretty tall guy,” said Lyon, who hoped to find out more information about the progress of the overpass project in particular and economic development more broadly.
On the entertainment and transportation fronts, Price did not disappoint, indeed arriving in a DeLorean (owned by Mark Burchard) and dressed as Marty McFly with City Manager Rick Horst dressed as Doc Brown, characters from the film franchise, “Back to The Future.”
Price discussed not only the overpass project and plans for State Route 347, but also the road’s history. He took the crowd back to 1989, when the future city of Maricopa wasn’t much more than, “a few lonesome plots of farm land.”
“Developers could foresee that the future success of Maricopa was intrinsically tied to the ability to make 347 work properly,” Price said.
Price described how a coalition of local residents, land developers, tribal and state officials came together to support the construction of SR 347. He noted the project was funded by residents of the then-unincorporated area through what was called a “special transportation district.” It passed in a high-turnout election by just 21 votes.
Price related this to Propositions 416 and 417, which put a regional transportation plan and half-cent sales tax to finance it before voters last year. Prop 417 also passed by a narrow margin, 51 percent to 49, though its implementation has been held up by a lawsuit. He said the roughly $100 million the plan is projected to raise was necessary for increasing entry and exit routes into Maricopa, in addition to other measures to decrease traffic and accidents.
“Twenty-eight years after the first major road improvement, the people of Pinal County and the City of Maricopa courageously and emphatically stated, through their slim but majority vote, that, yes, we want and we downright need a solution to this dangerous road and the gridlock it often extends to our families,” Price said.
Price discussed how partnerships were not only vital to Maricopa’s past, but also its future.
On the business side, Price stressed the importance of cultivating relationships with a range of private and public entities. He described how these relationships helped Maricopa secure grant funding and gain support for important projects from county, state and federal government bodies.
He laid out proposed plans for the Copper Sky site, including Maricopa’s first hotel since incorporation and a number of mixed-use spaces with commercial units on the ground floors and residential ones on the second.
Price also announced the city was changing from a business licensing process to a business registry, and that form is now only a page long and can be completed online. The fee was reduced from $50 to $10, with veteran-owned businesses and nonprofits paying nothing to register.
Reactions to the speech seemed positive, with the mayor having touched on the topics the crowd had indicated they were interested in. He also highlighted some of the exciting tech companies working throughout the region, such as the electric car company Lucid Motors and Nikola Motor Co., which makes electric-hydrogen-fueled trucks.
“The mayor never ceases to amaze me,” said Rosie Kuzmic, a Maricopa resident. “He is such a cheerleader for Maricopa. He fills us in on what’s going on, where we’ve been and what we can look forward to. He doesn’t pull any punches and he’s always fun.”
Grants received special mention a number of times, with Price highlighting the benefits received in terms of school safety, first-responders and other essential city functions. He also lauded the job done by Horst, who he likened to the city’s Doc Brown and who was appointed as city manager in June. In fact, Price quoted Doc Brown in his closing remarks.
“To Doctor Brown’s credit, he really did say it best when he said, ‘our future hasn’t been written yet'” Price said. “Your future is what you make of it, so let’s make it a good one.”
To watch the full speech, visit the city’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGB4xhFiHqg&feature=youtu.be