Mayor Christian Price stunned the citizens of Maricopa last week by announcing his resignation as mayor, effective July 1.
In his fourth term, Price has spent a decade in office. He is leaving the mayor’s position to lead an agency crucial to the city’s growth as president and chief executive officer of the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance. The agency, known as MEDA, is a public-private partnership that works directly with companies to help them evaluate options to locate in the city.
Price’s role will be to attract business and industry to Maricopa and help increase employment opportunities in town, so fewer residents need to commute to jobs out of the city, taking their dollars with them.
With his resignation, we asked some of the many women and men who have worked with him over the years to reflect on his legacy as mayor and his influence on the growth of a city that has ballooned from 1,500 residents in 2000 to 65,000 today.
Henry Wade, a councilmember since 2014, has had a front-row seat on Price’s leadership for many years.
“From my perspective, the Mayor has been a shepherd to the Maricopa community,” Wade said.
“Using his unique skill sets, together with his substantial contacts at all levels, he has been on a mission to support the creation of our quality living space known affectionately as Maricopa.”
Ted Yocum has called Christian Price a friend since moving to Maricopa in 2006.
As board members of their respective HOAs, they joined forces to get some relief from problems with graffiti, vandalism and other community issues. Later, when Price decided to run for mayor, Yocum was among a small group summoned to a park in the Villages where Price enlisted their support to knock on every door in Maricopa to get out the word. (That mission was achieved, Yocum said.)
Yocum said he has attended numerous groundbreakings and grand openings of businesses, new city buildings and housing and apartment projects with Price. And Price helped sponsor Yocum’s membership on the city Planning and Zoning Commission.
“I am delighted Christian is being given this opportunity to continue serving Maricopa,” Yocum said. “I cannot say enough about what he has done for the city: How fortunate we have been to have him as our mayor.”
“Christian is one of the most impressive, personable and dedicated men I have ever known,” he continued. “It has been my pleasure and privilege to have had the opportunity to know him. I look forward to continuing to work with him.”
Yocum offered a personal recollection to help describe the essence of his friend.
InMaricopa interview: Price talks of past, future as city leader (VIDEO)
“In October 2018, Kathy and I invited Christian to our 50th wedding anniversary celebration,” Yocum recalled. “Unbeknownst to all, especially to our three adult children, we had arranged for Christian to perform the renewal of our wedding vows. Needless to say our son and two daughters were quite surprised. When we began the ceremony, he asked them to come up and the six of us joined hands.
“Christian looked at them with a big smile and said, ‘You were not here when your mom and dad did this the first time, but here you are now to witness their love and dedication to each other.’”
Yocum’s wife and daughters were in tears.
“Yes, this is the Christian Price I have known all these years,” Yocum said, “the man who will always have a special place in my heart.”
Amber Liermann has worked with Price on city council since her election in 2020. She sees a leader who “cares deeply” for the city and has a “contagious” passion for its success.
“Mayor Price has provided the city with unparalleled leadership,” she said. “He has promoted the city slogan of ‘Proud History, Prosperous Future.’ He has honored Maricopa’s roots while leading Maricopa into the future. Mayor Price has strongly influenced the culture and climate of Maricopa as a community.
“The unique talent that has always set Mayor Price apart for me is his ability, passion and commitment to communicate,” she added. “He makes every effort to connect with community leaders and community members. This quality sets him apart from other leaders. I look forward to hearing about how his efforts continue to impact Maricopa’s growth and success in the future.”
Dayv Morgan, a longtime Maricopa resident and Realtor with HomeSmart Premier, said Price was an approachable leader who had significant impact on the community.
“I can sum up his legacy in one word: Overpass,” Morgan said Tuesday. “But I think what’s most impressive is that for a job that pays so little, he put so much time and effort into making Maricopa what it is today. He is a great example of using fiscal responsibility to achieve both short-term and long-term visions for the city.
“And he wasn’t afraid to talk to the residents about difficult topics, whether through social media, or while shaking hands dressed as Willy Wonka or Marty McFly. It’s no wonder he ran unopposed in the last election, he was unstoppable. It was obvious that he was proud to be the Mayor of Maricopa, and we were so lucky to have him as long as we did.”
“Mayor Price is going to be a hard act to follow,” said Councilmember Bob Marsh, who has worked with him on the board since he was elected in 2020.
“His depth and breadth of knowledge, charisma, energy, people skills, public speaking ability, political savvy and stage presence are unequaled in our city,” Marsh continued. “He has grown with the job and with the city over the past decade and has set us on a path to ever greater success year after year. I feel that whoever takes over to fill out his term could do no better than to continue his policies, fulfill his commitments and continue to listen to the residents of Maricopa.
“Oh, and good luck with the State of the City address.”
DR. TRACEY LOPEMAN
Dr. Tracey Lopeman, superintendent of Maricopa Unified School District, said Price had a unique combination: a big-picture thinker who understands the power of relationships.
“He cares very much about the people in this city,” Lopeman said. “I have seen him at countless school and district events, and he was an integral voice in the development of the MUSD Strategic Vision. I am grateful that a piece of his personal and civic passion is captured in our “Maricopa Why” and will continue to impact our future.”
Rick Horst was hired as Maricopa city manager in June 2018, six years into Price’s tenure as mayor. Before his hiring, he touched on the relationship between the city manager and city council (which is led by the mayor). “The truth is, if you don’t get along, there is no success,” he said at the time.
He clearly has gotten along with Price – and developed much respect for his boss – during the last four years.
“Over my 35-plus-year career in local government, I have worked with hundreds of elected officials,” Horst said this week. “Rarely do you find the caliber of elected official we find in Mayor Christian Price.”
Vice Mayor Vincent Manfredi has known Price for many years as neighbors in Maricopa Meadows and calls him a friend.
He has worked with the mayor on the council since his election in 2018.
“Mayor Price has been a steady voice for progress in the city,” Manfredi said. “He helped lead us out of the great recession and into a new era of prosperity.”
Councilmember Rich Vitiello, also was elected in 2018, said he is happy for Price.
“He’ll do great things with the economic development department just like he did with everything else he’s touched in the city,” Vitiello said. “I look forward to continuing to work with him to build our great city.
“I wish him the best of luck and you have my support in anything you do.”
Longtime City Councilmember Nancy Smith, the former vice mayor, said Price has been “a positive representative for our city.”
Disclosure: Vincent Manfredi is co-owner of InMaricopa.
Bob McGovern contributed to this report.
God bless Mayor Price and his family.