Mayor Christian Price speaks to fourth graders at Sequoia Pathway, Photo by Jim Headley

Fourth graders grilled Maricopa’s mayor and city manager on meaty issues of the day, from economic development and traffic to cows. Tuesday, Christian Price and Rick Horst visited the students at Sequoia Pathway Academy, where the mayor’s children are enrolled.

It was a lesson in civics and local history.

“Are we perfect? Do we always make the right decisions? We don’t,” Price said. “We do our best. We spend money on things we think are going to work out. Sometimes we’re right and sometimes we’re wrong.”

The students’ tough questions belied their age on topics like getting big-box stores and chain restaurants to Maricopa, “that way we don’t have to waste gas going out of town.”

“The city’s just a little bit older than you guys,” Horst said. “One of these days the city’s going to retire, believe it or not. Retirement means when the city is all built out and all the land’s developed. And we want to make sure everyone enjoys the same quality of life in retirement as they do when they’re working.”

He and Mayor Price explained their jobs and challenges without patronizing the youngsters.

“Costco and Target, when will they to come to the city?” Horst asked the students, drawing from a pre-set question on the board. “They’re going to come as soon as they think they can make money. They won’t come just because we want them to come.”

Horst said the magic population number for “getting everything we want here” is probably 70,000. Maricopa’s current population, as estimated by the Census Bureau is closer to 51,000.

The kids asked why most of the restaurants were fast-food.

“Why do we have so many fast-food places?” Horst echoed. “’Cause you keep going there.”

Price fielded questions about the possibilities of having trick-or-treating only on Saturdays and a visit from the pony express. He explained how Maricopa had moved three times during its history but was only 15 years old as an incorporated city.

“Government isn’t in charge of moving stores here, but we can help entice them by putting together pieces of the puzzle to bring it all together,” Price said. “Ultimately, it’s the private sector, it’s the Target and the Costco, etc., it’ for them to decide, ‘That little Maricopa over there, they got it going on.’”

A child told Horst the dairy cows near Maricopa “give pollution by their poop” and asked when the dairies would move farther away.

“Cattle farms were here first, and we’ve encroached on them,” he said. “But they will move out when someone comes up and says, ‘Hey, I want to buy your land so I can build more houses or shops or other things.’ Then they’ll take that money and go further out and buy land that’s even cheaper.

“Frankly, they’re looking forward to someone buying their land, because that’s probably how they’re going to retire someday.”

He said a dairy farm off State Route 238 already has an interested buyer.

City Manager Rick Horst talks to fourth graders. Photo by Jim Headley