Six people are running for three available seats on Maricopa City Council this year. The candidates have answered several questions from InMaricopa. Today, we share some background on each candidate and their answer to the primary question, “Why are you running for council?”
Years in Maricopa: 7
Employment: Educator for Maricopa Unified School District
From: Brooklyn, New York
Family: Widowed with 3 adult children
Political experience: This is second run for City Council
Community service: 25 years of service in various capacities such as human trafficking advocate, annual Youth Symposium, annual school supply drives and more
Memberships: Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. Scottsdale (president) and Seven Pearls Foundation Inc. (secretary and representative)
Previous work: 22 years as an educator in New Jersey and Arizona
Why are you running for council? “I want to make a positive impact in our community and advocate for our youth.”
Julia Gusse (incumbent)
Years in Maricopa: 15
Employment: Veterans Upward Bound, Arizona State University
From: Los Angeles, California
Family: Husband, three children, one grandchild
Political experience: Two terms on City Council 2010-2014 and 2016-2020
Community service: Veterans causes and organizations
Memberships: Maricopa American Legion, VetIT, Maricopa Ak-Chin STEAM Foundation
Previous work: U.S. Air Force veteran and previous city employee
Why are you running for council: “To continue to represent our community.”
Residence: Rancho El Dorado
Years in Maricopa: 6
Employment: Realtor – My Home Group
From: Aurora, Illinois
Family: My beautiful wife Kaylie LaFond, my son Jack (expected in July), my husky Bruin, my basset Wrangler, and three cats Blizzard, Porgie, and Lucky (My house is a Zoo!)
Political experience: Previously ran for constable.
Community service: My wife and I were members of our amazing CERT team
Memberships: No current memberships, but I do try to offer support where I can. I’m a big fan of our local Blue Star Mothers.
Previous work: U.S. Army veteran, district security director for a large retail company
Why are you running for council? “We have an amazing community and I want to help continue its growth and prosperity. My career experience partnering with local, state and federal police agencies will be a great benefit to working with our emergency services. I am also looking to use my experience in management and real estate to promote smart economic growth opportunities for Maricopa.”
From: Los Angeles, California
Years in Maricopa: 16
Employment: Maricopa Unified School District Exceptional Student Services counselor
Family: Children ages 18, 16, 14 and 12
Political experience: Citizen lobbying
Community Service: Vietnam Veterans of America Clothing Donation Program, Susan G. Komen fundraisers, Maricopa Police Department volunteer victim advocate, Maricopa Family Advocacy Center volunteer, Chandler Police Department victim advocate, Board Member of Be Awesome Youth Coalition, lead role in public service announcement for teen pregnancy prevention, Desert Cove Nursing Home Volunteer, Staples Senior Citizen volunteer, Maricopa High School Site Council member, Maricopa High School CopaCloset Club, Peer Advocacy Crew Club and Youth Alive Club sponsor, Maricopa High School Booster Club, Church of Celebration Financial Ministries Lead, Mending The Soul Facilitator, Hillsong Phoenix volunteer.
Memberships: Arizona Board of Behavioral Health, Maricopa Veteran Care Center Board Member, Member of Church of Celebration, Harley Owners Group Member
Previous work: My career has been focused on strengthening and preserving families, protecting youth by providing crisis services, direct counseling, connecting families with community agencies and promoting and encouraging strong education.
Why are you running for council? “Maricopa is in a critical stage in its development and I am excited to participate in the decisions that will shape our city moving forward. Economic Development is the engine that drives everything in Maricopa. If we want a hospital, solutions to [State Route] 347 and better infrastructure then we need to continue to focus on economic development. I believe the current council has put us on a good path, and we need to continue in the right direction. I am also passionate in helping to be a catalyst to providing both mobile and expanded services for our veterans. Social services for families in Maricopa need a boost so we can provide health and mental health support for families in need. We can do this by working to bring more of those services to our city. The work done so far with seniors is admirable as well as the arts, but I believe I can pick up the baton and work with groups like Copa Seniors, Community Services and the various arts groups to bring the senior center to life. I truly believe healthy families create a healthy community and I will do everything in my power to bring that belief to city hall.”
Residence: Desert Cedars
Years in Maricopa: 10 years, as of this September
Employment: Retired from Microsoft
Family: Wife, Cynthia, with grown children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren across the country
Political experience: Ran for Council in 2018 and almost won. I attend almost all council meetings and follow current mayor’s and councilmembers’ activities, actions and social media posts.
Community service: Served on the Maricopa Planning and Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustments; served on the Maricopa Zoning Code Rewrite Task Force and Subdivision Ordinance Rewrite Committee; Served on the Maricopa General Plan Update Committee and the 2040 Vision Team; currently serving on the Pinal County Board of Adjustments and Appeals; currently Board Member and treasurer for the Maricopa Senior Coalition; Currently board member and secretary for Desert Cedars Homeowners Association
Memberships: Past vice-president, Arizona Industrial Compensation Association; past board member, ITT Courier Federal Credit Union; member and past president, MIT Alumni Club of Phoenix; board member, International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners, Phoenix Chapter; member of Microsoft Alumni Network
Previous work: Microsoft Corporation (Community Development, Worldwide Partner Programs, Legal and Government Affairs); Digital Communications Associates (Program Management, Software Development for Microsoft); Information Technologies/Scottsdale (Training and Software Development for the FBI); ITT Courier/Tempe (Software Development for McDonald’s; Human Resources & Compensation Management); GE and Honeywell Process Control Systems/Phoenix (Software Development, Project Management for the Alaska Pipeline and Several Power Generation Companies); Vermont Research Corporation (Computer Hardware and Software Development for NASA and U.S. Navy)
Why are you running for Council? “I want to bring my engineering and community development work experience to the Mayor’s City Council Team to support and enable our city manager and his staff in several priority areas, including:
- Improve the city’s infrastructure – With my prior experience working with utility companies and government agencies, I’d like to be Council Liaison to work with staff and our major utility infrastructure providers to build toward a future that will attract major employers to locate here. I want to continue to work with our water and flood control and prevention providers, and I plan to work with our electric, internet, telecommunications, gas, waste, and transportation infrastructure providers (including ADOT) to leverage my background to ensure a brighter future for our city.
- Support the city’s community services development efforts – I want to support the City Manager and the Community Services Staff to enable their vision for expanding the breadth and depth of services to all Maricopa residents and businesses, in support of the General Plan and the 2040 Vision.
- Expand Maricopa’s health services – I want to work with the Mayor and City Manager in their continuing efforts to bring hospital-level services to Maricopa, supported by rapid transport to regional hospitals.
- Ensure women’s rights – I’ve been a women’s rights proponent for many years and while working in corporate HR, successfully got a major Arizona company to pay women the same as men, not the 60%-70% they had been paying. I want to leverage my background in compensation management and work with the City Manager to review the city’s policies re: “Equal Pay for Equal Work.”
- Enable senior and veterans’ services – As Board Member of the Maricopa Senior Coalition, I’ve worked for several years to get Maricopa a senior center, and now we have a City Manager who has figured out how to make that happen. I want to support the Community Services staff to make sure we maximize users’ and families’ satisfaction with the upcoming center for veterans, seniors, and the community, plus the new high-tech, multipurpose city library.”
Nancy Smith (incumbent)
Years in Maricopa: 17 years, prior to incorporation
Employment: Retired program manager at Motorola and General Dynamics
Family: Husband, 2 children, 3 stepchildren, 10 grandchildren
Previous political experience: City Council Member 2014-Current
Previous community service:
- Co-founder – F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank
- American Cancer Society – Relay For Life
- Be Awesome Board Member (for youth and families)
- Senior Citizen Lunch & Learn Program
- MHS DECA Advisory Member
- Founder – Maricopa Middle Schools Rocket Challenge
- Maricopa Citizen Leadership Academy
Memberships in organizations:
- Maricopa Economic Development Association (MEDA) Board Member
- MAG (Maricopa Association of Governments) Economic Development Committee
- Arizona-Mexico Commission Representative
- Pinal Partnership Board of Directors
- Pinal Partnership Economic Development Committee
- Pinal Partnership Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
- Maricopa Chamber of Commerce Government Committee
- Maricopa Budget, Finance and Operations (BFO) Committee
- Council Liaison Positions:
- City Council Liaison Age Friendly Advisory
- City Council Liaison Parks, Recreation & Library Committee
- City Council Liaison Heritage District Advisory
- City Council Liaison Cultural and Arts Committee
Previous work: I spent the majority of my career in military technology and project management for major government programs. While with Motorola I extended my work experience by specializing in finance and budgeting. The successes and skills acquired at Motorola and General Dynamics have proved to be valuable assets when applied to the duties and responsibilities of the Maricopa City Council.
Why are you running for council: “Simply put, I LOVE this city, the people, my family and I want to continue to make Maricopa the best place to live for all residents. I believe as a city council member I’ve been a leader in preparing Maricopa for exciting things to come in the areas of economic development, transportation, quality of life and responsible budgeting and finance. I want to serve a role in continuing to expand these opportunities for our community.”
Hear more from the candidates before the Primary Election at InMaricopa.com and in print in InMaricopa magazine.