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Article VIII of the Maricopa City Code sets out a Code of Ethics for the Mayor and City Council:

ARTICLE VIII. CODE OF ETHICS

SEC. 2-131. Policy

(a) It is the policy of the City of Maricopa to uphold, promote and demand the highest standards of ethics from its Mayor and City Council. The Mayor and the City Council shall maintain the utmost standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness in carrying out their public duties, avoid any improprieties in their roles as public servants, comply with all applicable laws and never use their city position or powers improperly or for personal gain. By operating with these values, the City shall build, maintain, and enhance the trust of the public, staff and fellow Council Members. This Code of Ethics has been created to ensure that all elected officials have clear guidance for carrying out their responsibilities.

(b) All City Officials shall obey and observe the letter and spirit of the constitution and laws of the United States of America, the constitution and laws of the State of Arizona, and the code, laws and policies of the City of Maricopa applicable to City Officials, including the City’s Code of Ethics.

(c) As a prerequisite for exercising any power of office, each City Official is required to read and agree in writing to comply with the provisions of these laws, regulations, policies and this Ethics Code.

SEC. 2-132. Definitions For the purposes of interpretation of this Article, the following words and phrases shall mean:

(a) City Official – the Mayor and members of the City Council.

(b) Ethics Code – the provisions set forth in this Article VIII. Except as otherwise provided herein, the words, terms, and phrases used in this Article shall have the meanings ascribed to them in Title 38 of the Arizona Revised Statutes and the City Code, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.

SEC. 2-133. Code of Ethical Conduct

(a) Operate in an Open, Accessible, and Transparent Manner and Adhere to All Applicable Laws At All Times

(1) The citizens of Maricopa expect and deserve open government. City Officials shall comply with all open meetings and public records laws as set forth in A.R.S. §§ 38-431 through 431.09 and §§ 39-121through 121.03.

(2) City Officials shall conduct city business with transparency, seeking public input as advisable or appropriate, in a manner that fully adheres to and preferably exceeds state law regarding open meetings and transparency of actions and shall not circumvent the open meeting law, or the spirit of the law, by using technology, a “hub and spoke” 16 Added Article VIII by Ordinance 13-12 Adopted on 11/05/2013 scheme, or any technique involving less than a quorum yet designed to communicate with a quorum of the public body.

(3) City Officials shall be accessible, open and conduct city business with transparency.

(b) Conflicts of Interest

(1) City Officials shall not be involved in any activity which creates a conflict of interest with their responsibilities to the City and its residents as defined by Arizona law.

(2) City Officials shall disclose and make known actual or perceived conflicts of interest as required by Arizona law.

(3) When a known conflict of interest arises, the City Official involved shall disclose the conflict as soon as reasonably practical and shall refrain from participating in any manner in the city’s decision-making processes on the matter as a City Official, including voting on the matter or attending meetings with, having written or verbal communications with, or offering advice to any member of the City Council, or any city employee, contractor, agent, member of a city board, commission, committee, task force, other appointed advisory group or agency (other than the city attorney when the City Official is seeking legal advice regarding a possible conflict).

(4) During a public meeting when an agenda item in which a City Official has a conflict of interest comes up for consideration, the City Official shall state publicly that he or she has a conflict, recuse himself or herself, and leave the room while the matter is being discussed and acted upon by others on the public body.

(c) Serve Public Interests Over a Council Member’s Personal Interests

(1) City Officials have the obligation to put the interests of the City of Maricopa over all personal considerations.

(2) The goal should be to balance what is in the best interest for the broadest public good of the City, consistent with constitutional and other legal protection for minority, property and other interests.

(3) City Officials shall use discretionary funds and City resources for public interest rather than personal interests.

(4) City Officials shall avoid favoritism and retribution. (d) Undue Influence and Appearance of Impropriety

(1) No City Official shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to influence Council decisions or City staff actions in favor of individuals, organizations or companies that may directly benefit the individual City Official.

(2) Ask “Does this pass the headline test?”

(3) City Officials shall follow applicable gift policies and laws regarding disclosure and acceptance of gifts, including, but not limited to, gifts of travel, entertainment and sports/athletic activities and events.

(4) No City Official shall use or attempt to use his or her personal relationships with staff, businesses or others for inappropriate or personal benefit.

(5) City Officials shall avoid the appearance or reality of monetary gain or “quid pro quo”.

(6) No City Official shall use or attempt to use his or her official position to gain personal, professional, or financial advantage for the individual City Official or his or her direct family member. (As “direct family member” is defined in the City Code.)

(e) Professionalism and Courtesy

(1) During meetings and all public appearances, City Officials shall treat each other, speakers, invited guests, residents, businesses, staff and general public with professionalism, courtesy, respect and dignity, and shall:

  • Be attentive, respectful and polite
  • Avoid personal disparaging comments or references
  • Focus on the action, not the individual  Respect differences
  • Be cognitive of demeanor and appearance
  • Be respectful of schedules and agendas and responsive to all communications
  • Be on time, prepared and ready to execute the duties and tasks of the position
  • Avoid inappropriate actions and behavior that could reflect poorly upon the City or fellow City Officials

(2) At the City workplace, at any City event and at all times while representing the City, including traveling on City business, City Officials shall treat each other, staff and the general public with professionalism, courtesy, respect and dignity, and shall:

  • Respect and embrace the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated)
  • Be sensitive to differences in race, age, gender, disabilities, religious beliefs, political affiliation and national origin
  • Strive to create an environment that is productive and free from gossip, rumors, intimidation, harassment, threats, retaliation, violence, hostility, and other adversity
  • Avoid behavior and comments considered unacceptable in the workplace, such as inappropriate and demeaning comments, stories, humor and jokes
  • Avoid sexual harassment, such as sexual conversations, sexual innuendos, and other comments that may be perceived as sexual in nature
  • Keep personal and professional relationships separate

(f) Respect and Abide by the Council-Manager Form of Government

(1) Under the council-manager form of government, the City Council appoints a City Manager, who directs the day-to-day operations of all employees. City Officials should be sensitive to the role of the City Manager and shall not circumvent the appropriate chain of command by directing City staff.

(2) City Officials shall not interfere with the hiring, promotion, transfer, discipline, compensation or termination of any employee, other than those positions identified in the City Code that serve at the pleasure of the City Council.

(3) City Officials shall not interfere with or exert influence over the City’s procurement process, except in an official capacity acting as Council as a whole.

(g) Use of City Equipment, Property and Resources

(1) City Officials shall adhere to City rules and policies on the use of City property, City logo, and City letterhead or other approved City communication tools, materials or publications.

(2) City Officials shall use City issued equipment in accordance with City policies and shall not use City equipment or facilities for private purposes, unless such use is generally available to the public.

(3) Any personal emails, faxes or use of other communications generated by the use of City equipment should be considered public information. As such, City Officials shall use City-assigned electronic mail accounts for City business only and not for personal business or for campaign purposes.

(4) City Officials shall not disclose or use executive session information or other information deemed confidential under state law without proper authorization.

(h) Communications

(1) City Officials are never “off the record” and should be mindful of communication actions that create a public record.

(2) City Officials shall qualify public comments as either the official position of Council or as a personal opinion and clarify whether Council has or has not acted on the topic (i.e., state “Council hasn’t voted on this matter yet, however, I believe we should go in direction xyz”).

(3) City Officials shall not make public statements or take individual actions on behalf of Council unless expressly authorized by Council.

(4) City Officials shall use all communication platforms to constructively benefit the City.

(5) City Officials shall communicate to fellow Council Members, the City Manager and/or the City Attorney any information that could negatively affect the operation or image of the City Council or the City to avoid a situation where such information is first learned from the media or outside sources.

(6) When appropriate or advisable, City Officials should notify appropriate City staff regarding all media contacts.

SEC. 2-134. Reporting Ethics Violations

Council Members have a duty to report violations of the Code of Ethics or any misconduct that raises a substantial question as to a Member’s integrity or fitness as a public official. Council shall serve as a committee of the whole for purposes of Code of Ethics enforcement, which includes a reasonable process for investigating complaints that affords the subject of a complaint a full and fair opportunity to be heard. The City benefits from formal and informal reporting procedures that encourage prompt resolution of grievances and concerns.

(a) Informal Reporting Procedures

Before initiating the formal complaint process, a grievant should make every reasonable effort to resolve issues constructively in an informal manner, unless such efforts would be futile or inadequate to address the nature and severity of the alleged violation.

(1) Whenever possible, a grievant should first discuss concerns with the alleged violator.

(2) Either party may request the assistance of a neutral third-party to facilitate discussions about the complaint. Both parties must agree to use the neutral third-party.

(b) Formal Reporting Procedures A grievant may initiate the formal complaint process when informal efforts are futile, unsuccessful, or inadequate to address the nature and severity of the alleged violation. A person who knowingly makes a false, misleading, or unsubstantiated statement in a complaint may be subject to criminal prosecution for perjury and civil liability.

(1) The grievant shall inform the alleged violator of the intent to initiate the formal complaint process.

(2) The grievant shall submit a formal complaint to the City Manager and City Attorney within ninety (90) days from the date the grievant first became aware of the alleged violation or within one (1) year from the date of the alleged violation.

(3) The complaint shall provide:

i. The name of the grievant;

ii. The name of the alleged violator;

iii. The nature of the alleged violation, including the specific provision of the Code of Ethics or law allegedly violated;

iv. A statement of facts describing relevant conduct and dates;

v. Copies of relevant documents or materials and/or a list of unavailable, relevant documents or materials;

vi. A list of relevant witnesses; and

vii. An affidavit stating that the information contained in the complaint is true and correct, and stating the grievant has good reason to believe and does believe that the facts alleged constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics.

(4) The City Manager and City Attorney or designee shall gather relevant facts, documents, witness statements, interview the alleged violator, and gather other information relevant to the complaint.

(5) The City Attorney or designee shall prepare a recommendation to Council.

(6) The complaint and recommendation shall be submitted to the entire Council for review at a duly convened executive session. All laws pertaining to executive sessions shall apply, including the right of the alleged violator to an open hearing.

i. Council shall review the complaint and recommendation, and consult with the City Attorney or designee to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred and whether sanctions are warranted

ii. If there is reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred, the matter may be placed on a Regular Council Meeting agenda for action.

(A) A 2/3 vote of the Council (of the Members Present) at a Regular Council Meeting shall be required for a determination that a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred.

(B) A 2/3 vote of the Council (of the Members Present) at a Regular Council Meeting shall be required for sanctions.

SEC. 2-135. Sanctions Any Council Member found in violation of this Code of Ethics may face the following sanctions:

(a) Warning

(b) Letter of reprimand

(c) Public censure by the Council, which may include:

(1) Loss of assignments;

(2) Loss of power to appoint members to City Boards, Commissions and Committees;

(3) Loss of Council discretionary funds;

(4) Loss of City-related travel privileges;

(d) A demand for non-monetary restitution (e.g., a public apology, the return of gifts); and/or

(e) A demand for reimbursement of administrative, legal, and/or investigation costs and expenses incurred in investigating and prosecuting the violation of the Code of Ethics. Serious infractions of the Code of Ethics or other intentional and repeated conduct in violation of this Article VIII may result in other sanctions as deemed appropriate by Council. Violations of state law provisions described herein shall be punished as provided for in state law. The language used in imposing sanctions will be consistent and follow a specific format as established by the Council.

Scott Bartle City Council
InMaricopa owner Scott Bartle addresses City Council about his ethics complaint against Councilmember Julia Gusse at its May 19 meeting. (Source: City of Maricopa, via YouTube)

At its May 19 meeting, the Maricopa City Council addressed an ethics complaint I filed against Councilmember Julia Gusse. Here is the story from my perspective.

The history

In a nutshell, Article VIII of the City Code (Code of Ethics) states, “The Mayor and the City Council shall maintain the utmost standards of personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness in carrying out their public duties.” I believe a council member, Julia Gusse, violated the spirit and the letter of this Code, many times over.

If you disagree, and at least one Mesa lawyer did, that’s OK. Apparently, things like personal integrity, truthfulness, honesty and fairness are quite subjective.

You can form your own opinion, but here are a few of the reasons I thought violations occurred:

  • Gusse insisted on meddling in my business’ hiring practices “before our City moves forward with any advertising.”
  • Gusse demeaned and threatened a local job-creator, writing “I suppose that with this email you have mansplained my council job to me and have put me in my place? Am I to scurry away now with your permission? As you are well aware, the pen is mightier than the sword!”
  • Gusse doubled down, professing she (i.e. city government) is entitled to a say on who and how my business recruits and hires talent: “When you hire an individual that is to report on anything from kids sports to a local crime scene, who you hire is 100% my concern!”

For over a year, I hesitated to file a complaint in hopes I could avoid doing so altogether. Given Gusse’s decision to run for re-election, I felt compelled to give the council the opportunity to prove its mettle and the public an opportunity to see how one of their elected officials actually treats local businesses. (As it turns out, we got to know what six of the seven council members think is appropriate relative to how to treat local businesses and their rights to interfere with them.)

[Note: After submitting my complaint, a public records request revealed Gusse emailed the mayor, “My recommendation is to NOT advertise one dime of our City’s advertising budget in this publication” and that she “will fight for the discontinued financial support of his organization.” She backs that up in 2019, spitefully telling local businesses owners to cancel their advertising agreements with InMaricopa.]

The meeting

Gusse did a good job of moving the narrative away from her actions. The council fell in lockstep, receiving the gift of a flawed investigative conclusion to complement the strategy of claiming a non-conforming process.

I am bemused as to how the City’s outside investigator came to his conclusion. I can only surmise we have very different standards of right and wrong, or he understands where his bread is buttered. Maybe potential legal liability for the City was a consideration. Somehow, the investigating attorney did not even find Gusse’s behavior to be unprofessional.

But I don’t think the report mattered. Gusse had eight minutes of victory speeches already prepared – and it seems unlikely she could have written those on the one-floor elevator ride from the executive session meeting room to the regular meeting in the Council Chambers. Price, Smith and Vitiello all could have pointed to the report findings and had all the political cover they needed, then quietly amended the Code to prevent those pesky constituents from being able to accuse them of any wrongdoing in the future. But they couldn’t resist following through on the “process” strategy on which they committed to hanging their hat. Conspiracy theory? Yes, but a very plausible one.

Pre-planned or not, council focused on issues that had nothing to do with the ethics violations. In fact, not one question was asked about the appropriateness of her emails. Not one member expressed concern with her meddling in a private business, nor her disrespectful communication, nor her threat to a local employer to withhold city purchasing.

Her modus operandi of grandstanding, playing the victim and accusing people (possibly me) of being dim-witted, racist, misogynist and anti-veteran predictably held true. (see YouTube video, 14:02)

Like Gusse, Councilmember Vitiello accused me of taking advantage of the City code by having the nerve to even file a complaint. He addressed his fear someone would file a meritless complaint against him for political purposes, though that would be in conflict of current policy which states a complaint would only be placed on a council agenda for action “if there is reasonable cause to believe a violation occurred.”

Vitiello seemingly exonerated Gusse to protect himself from facing the same fate: “This could be a free-for-all, for anybody to come against anyone of us councilmembers for whatever reasoning they choose to during an election year. And that really worries me.”

Oblivious to the facts in the complaint, Vitello said, “Process is the most important thing here. … I struggle with even starting to read (the report) because, again, the process to me, I feel was not followed.”

Vitiello also questioned me on the timing of my filing, despite my previously having made a public statement explaining my reason. (Tell me again why I am on trial here?)

Mayor Christian Price and Vice Mayor Nancy Smith continued the effort to cast doubt on the process itself. Throughout, the mayor never asked the city attorney for clarification of whether the process was properly followed, as is his common practice.

Council should have taken its beef with how the process transpired to the mayor and city attorney. Turning the tables and blaming the Complainant is a page out of Gusse’s book.

Like Vitiello, Price and Smith failed to address, much less condemn, Gusse’s actions.

Councilmember Marvin Brown said nothing.

Councilmember Henry Wade focused on personalities instead of facts. Somewhat confused, he made the motion to exonerate Gusse to “move forward.”

And so it goes. The council had an opportunity to hold a colleague accountable – the intent of the Code of Ethics – and instead tried to shoot the messenger. I told them they had only two choices – condemn or condone her behavior. They chose to condone.

The future

Despite Gusse’s strategy of making the complaint about my business and me, it wasn’t. The council’s decision to let her off is of little consequence to me. If anything, the profoundly poor judgment by six council members makes me realize, in spite of COVID-19, InMaricopa should be paying closer attention to the decisions our elected officials make. And we will.

One unknown is the impact on economic development of the City’s acceptance of its officials trying to dictate policies and procedures of private businesses. Is government overreach a factor in companies’ decisions of where to plant their businesses? Maybe.

What is certain is Gusse will graduate from emboldened to bullet-proof, and her disdain for the Code of Ethics will turn into blatant disregard.

My goals Tuesday were to (a) give council an opportunity to set a high standard by condemning Gusse’s behavior and (b) prevent Gusse from using her position to attack other Maricopa businesses like she does mine. I accomplished one of the two and will, like Wade, move forward.

Honeycutt Paving Traffic
Traffic on Honeycutt Road at Plainview Street was reduced to one lane on Friday morning as a repaving project begins. Photo by Bob McGovern

Workers on Friday began prep work for the resurfacing of Honeycutt Road between Plainview Street and the bridge over Santa Rosa Wash.

Traffic is reduced to one lane on Honeycutt heading east from John Wayne Parkway as manholes and water valves are lowered ahead of milling of the asphalt surface expected to begin Monday and continue through Tuesday.

Paving of the roadway will be done from Wednesday to Friday, with striping set for Saturday, May 16, according to the city’s schedule. Utilities will be adjusted along the roadway on May 19.

The second phase of the project will pave Honeycutt Road from the Santa Rosa Wash bridge to White & Parker Road. A schedule for that work will be provided by the city at a later date.

Honeycutt-Road-Santa-Cruz-Wash
Vehicles heading east on Honeycutt Road cross the bridge of Santa Cruz Wash. The bridge may require repairs that would close down the roadway. Photo by Bob McGovern

A Honeycutt Road bridge may not get repairs for some time.

The soil under the east and west approaches of the bridge, which crosses Santa Cruz Wash just west of the Rancho Mirage development, has consolidated, or changed, probably due to moisture infiltration from irrigation or stormwater runoff, according to Maricopa City Manager Rick Horst.

The City has yet to conduct geotechnical testing to confirm the source of the problem, but has included funds for testing in its proposed long-range capital projects budget for Fiscal Year 2021, which begins July 1, according to Horst. Funds are also earmarked for the preparation of design criteria to repair the foundations of the approaches, if necessary. The council discussed the project as part of a recent budget meeting.

The two-lane, 30-foot-long bridge, which carries an average of about 8,100 vehicles daily, was built by Pinal County in 2007 as part of plans approved for the construction of the Rancho Mirage subdivision to provide for a dry crossing of Santa Cruz Wash without heading south of town, said Horst.

There are no current concerns about the safety of the bridge, he said.

Honeycutt Road serves as the main vehicular artery for residents living in the easternmost HOAs of the city – Rancho Mirage, Sorrento and Tortosa – so the city will have to complete another road project before starting any work needed on the bridge.

With a bridge repair likely to require a full closure of Honeycutt Road, the city’s official detour would be Bowlin Road, which is currently undergoing improvements due to be completed in FY 2021, Horst said.

The Bowlin project would create a raised crossing over the Santa Cruz Wash south of the Honeycutt Road bridge. The $978,000 project between White & Parker Road and Anthony Boulevard in Rancho Mirage would include a temporary surface treatment to smooth travel over the dirt portions of Bowlin, officials have said. The crossing is needed to improve “vehicular connectivity, improve response times of the fire department and provide relief to congestion on Honeycutt Road,” the city has said.

“With the new signal at Honeycutt and White & Parker, and the addition of the connection along Bowlin Road, there will be adequate travel lanes in support of the growing population in the eastern segment of the City,” Horst said.

In a separate project, resurfacing of Honeycutt Road – from Plainview Street to North White & Parker Road – will begin Friday. The first phase will be from Plainview to the bridge over Santa Rosa Wash. The city has announced the schedule of work for the first phase:

Friday, May 8: Lower manholes and water valves

Monday, May 11 and Tuesday, May 12: Milling of the asphalt surface

May 13, 14 and 15: Paving

May 16: Striping of the road

May 19 – Adjust utilities 

Phase II will from the bridge to White & Parker. A schedule for this work will be given at a later date.

Gov. Doug Ducey

“Stay home, Stay healthy, Stay connected” – that’s what the state is asking of fellow Arizonans in the continued effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The latest Executive Order issued today by Governor Doug Ducey follows new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and comes at the recommendation of public health officials who are tracking data specific to Arizona. The Governor’s order promotes increased physical distancing, while encouraging social connectedness among citizens. It takes place at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow, March 31, 2020.

“Keeping Arizonans safe and healthy as we slow the spread of COVID-19 remains our top priority,” said Governor Ducey. “Arizona citizens and businesses are already responsibly responding to this crisis. This order builds on the state’s efforts to protect public health by reminding Arizonans to maintain healthy habits and find alternative ways to stay connected with friends and loved ones while spending time at home. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 will ensure we build capacity in our healthcare system, and help protect the lives of those we love most. It’s important to emphasize that there are no plans to shut down grocery stores. People should continue to buy what you need for a week’s worth of groceries. I’m grateful to everyone making adjustments to fight this virus and protect others. Arizona will get through this, and we’ll do it together.”

Under the Executive Order, Arizonans shall limit their time away from their place of residence or property, except:

  • To conduct or participate in essential activities, and/or;

  • For employment, to volunteer or participate in essential functions; or

  • To utilize any services or products provided by essential business services;

  • And for employment if as a sole proprietor or family owned business, work is conducted in a separate office space from your home and the business is not open to serve the public.

On March 23, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order clarifying businesses and operations deemed “essential” and providing certainty to business owners, employees and families.

Under today’s order, Arizonans are also encouraged to improve social connectedness by:

  • Maintaining ongoing connections and communication with current social supports and structures such as family, friends, neighbors and other social groups;

  • Educating fellow Arizonans on the negative health impacts of social isolation;

  • And developing habits and activities that increase resilience, such as physical activity, virtual social gatherings, assisting neighbors, implementing or participating in connection campaigns for at risk populations, and participating in volunteer activities.

Under this policy, essential activities include:

  • Obtaining necessary supplies and services for family, household members and pets, such as groceries, food and supplies for household consumption and use, supplies and equipment needed to work from home, assignments for completion of distance learning and products necessary to maintain safety, sanitation and essential maintenance of the home, residence.

  • Engaging in activities essential for health and safety, including things such as seeking medical, behavioral health or emergency services and obtaining medical supplies or medication.

  • Caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household or residence, which includes but is not limited to transportation for essential health and safety activities and to obtain necessary supplies and services for the other household.

  • Engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running, biking or golfing, but only if appropriate physical distancing practices are used.

  • Attending work in or conducting essential services which includes but is not limited to transporting children to child care services for attending work in an essential service.

  • Engaging in constitutionally protected activities such as speech and religion, the democratic process to include voting any legal or court process provided that such is conducted in a manner that provides appropriate physical distancing to the extent feasible.

Already, Arizona has taken proactive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On March 11, Governor Ducey issued a declaration of a Public Health State of Emergency to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and mitigate the spread of the disease.

On March 15, a statewide school closure was issued in coordination with Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. Today, it was extended through the end of the school year, following CDC guidance.

Many businesses have already greatly reduced their hours and operations as directed by health officials and in an effort to protect the public health and slow the spread of COVID-19.

On March 17th, following updated guidance from the CDC, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) issued updated guidance that included canceling or postponing gatherings of 10 or more people, recommending telework and other alternatives, restricting access to nursing homes, retirement homes and long-term care facilities to provide critical assistance, and providing recommendations to restaurants and eating establishments to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

On March 19th, Governor Ducey required restaurants in Arizona counties with confirmed COVID-19 cases to provide dine-out options only and required all bars, gyms and movie theaters in those counties to close. That same day, Governor Duey halted all elective surgeries in the state of Arizona to free up medical resources and maintain the capacity for hospitals and providers to continue offering vital services.

View a full list of actions HERE.

Last week, Governor Ducey launched the Arizona Together initiative to support Arizonans during the COVID-19 outbreak, connecting individuals and businesses to resources, raising money for community organizations and providing information on volunteer opportunities. The website, ArizonaTogether.org, also features tools for mental health support for individuals and families facing changes and stress as a result of COVID-19.

View the Executive Order encouraging Arizonans to stay home, stay healthy and stay connected HERE.

View daily Arizona COVID-19 updates from ADHS HERE.

Cindy and Christian Price work to find balance in their busy schedules. Photo by Victor Moreno

It’s hard; don’t think for a second that it’s easy.

By Joycelyn Cabrera

Christian Price goes beyond balancing his personal and political life – he melds the two together.

Maricopa’s incumbent mayor began to pursue politics out of college and continued on the path for the next 20 years. While most full-time workers can put on two different faces for work and for home, many Maricopa residents say Price presents himself the same way both in and out of the office.

He is currently running unopposed for a fourth term.

“I can come in bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in 2012, but you’re not going to get to make the overpass happen and see completion in one year or two years or sometimes in four years. It takes a long time to make these long-term processes happen,” Price said. “The other side to that is, developers like continuity.”

Price has been a Maricopa resident since 2004. He was involved in community-planning for his subdivision of Maricopa Meadows as president of the homeowners association board of directors for six years beginning in 2005. Meanwhile, he climbed positions in the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, landing as treasurer in 2016 and president of the executive committee in 2018.

Price first ran for mayor in 2012 and has been reelected for each term since then.

He networks with city and state officials all around Arizona. His social media can be seen with plenty of pictures from state conferences with Republican Sen. Martha McSally and Gov. Doug Ducey. Although he does not donate funds or have personal connections with state officials, Price stressed the importance of networking for the City of Maricopa.

“What people don’t realize is we have problems here in this city that are federal problems,” Price said. “We spend a lot of time in D.C. I had one moment with Jeff Flake when he was still a sitting senator; he came out of the door and he said, ‘Mayor Price, what are you doing here? I think you’re here more than I am.’”

Price is not a stranger to disagreements on social media from his constituents, on state government, or from within the city council. In 2014, former Councilmember Leon Potter resigned from his position to run for mayor against Price as a statement on a disagreement between the two about another councilmember receiving a DUI.

“I decided to run at the time, but I didn’t get the signatures for it,” Potter said. “So, nothing came of it in that regard, but I just wanted to make a statement that the fact even our leader of our city didn’t speak against it, was disappointing.”

Potter said he pulled a packet to run for city council in 2020 and the event from four and a half years ago is “water under the bridge.”

Price agreed with Potter in response.

“From the beginning of being the mayor and being on city council, he was in the mix,” Potter said. “I can’t say enough about how he had his mind set on what he wanted to do and then he just went out and did it.”

Henry Wade has served on the City Council for five years and the Planning and Zoning Commission for eight years previous. He is the current vice mayor on the council.

“Our responsibility to the city is public safety, transportation and economic development. There are no Republican police departments, there are no Democratic street-fixers, there is no independent economic development organizer,” Wade said.

Wade has served the city with Price for the past five and a half years and said he does not see a difference between Price the official and Price the neighbor.

“He is a politician, you know?” Wade said. “A lot of what he does goes around what he’s doing as a mayor. He knows how to let his hair down sometimes and relax, but there really is not much of a difference.”

Price’s neighbors see him more as a friendly face down the street instead of a city official.

Brian Petersheim, a local Realtor, has been a resident of Maricopa since 2006. His wife Suzanne has been a resident since 2011 and works in the public-school system.

“He is a very regular guy; you see him out there with his kids. They’re all running around, and whenever we’re driving by, he just automatically waves, not recognizing it’s us,” Suzanne said.

While they may see Price as just one of their neighbors, they also don’t hesitate to ask questions in regards to city affairs.

“He is his family’s designated mail-checker,” Petersheim said. “One day, Suzanne was out there working in the yard, and I saw him walking by and I said, ‘Oh lord,’ and I just smiled to myself. Sure enough, like an hour later I look out the window and she’s still talking to him about traffic and the state of the city.”

Since his reelection announcement on social media, Price has seen a trend of overwhelming popularity among his constituents. Wade said he still has work to do.

“He loves this city. I mean, we all do,” Wade said.

Price began his life in government affairs during college as a legislative assistant for the Arizona House of Representatives.

Price completed one year of law school in Houston but dropped out to return to Arizona while his mother was dying of cancer.

While studying to become a financial advisor, Price learned about the legislative process in the state of Arizona and later turned to local government and politics. He continues his second job as a financial advisor in partnership with Sierra Wealth Group.

Price finds himself traveling out of state frequently to meet networking goals and adhere to his duties as mayor and league president. Price said he works an average of 60–70 hours a week with leadership positions alongside his partnership with Sierra Wealth Group.

Price also has four children aged 4-13, with his wife, Cindy Price.

“I knew I was going to be married to somebody that was in the political sphere,” Cindy said. “When I first met him, his email address was Price4Prez, so that was never a question. He’s always loved politics.”

For his daughters, having a dad in the civic spotlight is all they know. His oldest child, son Cooper, only experienced his dad outside of a city position before he reached age 6.

“I’m able to balance it, but I will tell you, my job and my family suffer because I put in 70 hours a week [as mayor]. I don’t say that for sympathy; I say that because I chose to run for this position,” Price said. “It’s hard; don’t think for a second that it’s easy.”

Price was faced with immediate support from many Maricopa residents on social media when he announced his running for reelection in 2020. In his last two elections for mayor, he ran unopposed.

“Now, it’s entirely up to the people,” Price said. “If the people want me, then I’ll stick around. If they don’t want me, then they can choose somebody else.”

Submitted photo

Cindy’s Take

Cindy Price uses wholistic and natural methods to encourage wellness as a life coach after experiencing mental health strains early in her marriage.

She has been married to Mayor Christian Price for 17 years. Originally from Florida, Price traveled to Utah to attend Brigham Young University to study photography. She had already known Christian at this point in her life because of a family connection – he was best friends with her cousin and the best man at her cousin’s wedding.

They married after reuniting in Mesa in their mid-20s and later moved to Maricopa in 2004. After having their first daughter, Cassidy, Price lived with post-partum depression, saying she relied on her husband’s support.

“My 8-year-old was 6 months old when Christian was sworn in, and her first year of life was pretty high stress, she had some medical issues, and I had post-partum depression. It was really hard for me to go out and do city events; I just felt like a mess. I felt like I was drowning all the time.”

Price said the experience led her to using essential oils and pursuing wholistic life coaching. She is the owner of WaveMaker Essentials, an essential-oil business she mixes in with her wholistic life coaching, encouraging personal growth among her consumers.

“It started from my own health issues, mainly around mental health,” Price said. “I teach people natural ways to be really healthy and vibrant.”

She also owns Lily P. Studio, a photography business that specializes in portraits.

“Christian and I have things split up in different ways than a lot of families do,” Cindy Price said. “I travel internationally for work, as well as him traveling, so we kind of trade off. We have a balance that we’ve come to over the years.

“We have a babysitter that we consider like a daughter and that helps us quite a bit. We get a lot of help from family, and we just make it work.”

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Tuesday, Maricopa City Council unanimously approved its annual budget. The total expenditures of $105.7 million are a decrease from last fiscal year by $935,103.

General Fund revenues are budgeted at $34.6 million, with $11.8 million of that from sales tax. Much of the city’s revenue comes from property taxes.

City Tax Rate                               2019                  2018
Primary Property Tax Rate            4.7845                4.7845
Secondary Tax Rate                         1.1220                 1.1871
Total                                               5.9065              5.9716

Property Tax Levy Amounts
Primary Property Taxes                $12,544,974        $13,730,060
Secondary Property Taxes            $2,941,920          $3,406,624
Total                                              $15,486,894     $17,136,684

While the budget for fiscal year 1019-20 wasn’t controversial – members of the council have been hashing out the details of the plan for months – before voting on the measure, Councilwoman Julia Gusse questioned why the city is a member of a Canadian trade organization and not a Mexican trade group.

She said the city pays more than $14,000 annually to belong to the Canadian group but doesn’t pay $1,500 to belong to the Arizona-Mexico Commission.

After more than 15 minutes of discussion about the item that was not originally on the agenda, the final city budget was approved with an amendment to budget $1,500 to join the Arizona-Mexico Commission, if the city council approves it in the coming year. The matter is expected to come up on the next city council agenda June 18.

Council members also adopted the City of Maricopa Strategic Plan for the next two years. The Strategic Plan and is essentially an action plan to guide the city toward the 2040 Vision Plan, City Manager Rick Horst said.

The council also heard the second of two public hearings on a proposed Community Development Block Grant of $180,000 to install lighting and perform some neighborhood rehabilitation and revitalization in the Heritage District. The matter will come before the council one more time before the city will be allowed to apply for the federal grant.

In its consent agenda, the council endorsed the Pinal County I-11 Coalition’s support for the Federal Highway Administration and Arizona Department of Transportation’s Interstate 11 (see proposed routes) Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement and Preliminary Evaluation.

The Council accepted public improvements and maintenance responsibility for all local internal streets within Parcel 19 of the Homestead North Subdivision into the City Street/Road Maintenance System.

They approved the Intergovernmental Agreement between the Arizona Department of Revenue and the City of Maricopa for the collection and administration of transaction privilege and affiliated excise taxes imposed by the City of Maricopa.

The council also recommended the approval to the Arizona Department of Liquor License and Control regarding an application submitted by Kim Kwiatkowski on behalf of Circle K Store at 41433 W. Honeycutt Road. The store already had a license for beer-and-wine sales.

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Maricopa City Hall

 

A special Maricopa City Council meeting will take place tonight in addition to their regularly scheduled meeting to have two public hearings about their annual city budget.

The first public hearing will be “on the City’s primary property tax levy for Fiscal Year 2019-2020.” The second public hearing will be to receive comments “regarding adoption of the final budget for Fiscal Year 2019-2020.”

After the hearings, the city council will discuss and possibly vote to adopt the final budget for fiscal year 2019-2020.

Items on the council’s regular agenda include a request by City Manager Rick Horst to adopt the City of Maricopa Strategic Plan and hearing public comment regarding the use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds expected to be in the amount of $180,000.

During their regular meeting the city council will examine these items on their consent agenda:

A potential endorsement of the Pinal County I-11 Coalition’s support for the Federal Highway Administration and Arizona Department of Transportation’s Interstate 11 Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement and Preliminary Section 4(F) Evaluation. The item was pulled from a previous agenda.

The acceptance of public improvements and maintenance responsibility for all local internal streets within Parcel 19 of the Homestead North Subdivision into the City Street/Road Maintenance System.

Approving the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADOR) and the City of Maricopa for the collection and administration of transaction privilege and affiliated excise taxes imposed by the City of Maricopa.

Approval to the Arizona Department of Liquor License and Control regarding an application submitted by Kim Kwiatkowski on behalf of Circle K Store #3486, which is located at 41433 W. Honeycutt Road.

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A La Quinta is planned for Copper Sky commercial property.

Tuesday evening the Maricopa City Council has an extremely light agenda for their regular 7 p.m. meeting.

Only two items are listed on Tuesday’s meeting agenda and both items are on the consent agenda.

Matters to be voted on include a resolution endorsing the Pinal County Interstate 11 Coalition’s support for the Federal Highway Administration and the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Interstate 11 Tier 1 environmental impact statement and preliminary section evaluation.

The environmental impact study will take three years and studies a 280-mile corridor across the state for the proposed construction of I-11.

The other matter on their consent agenda is an amendment to a purchase and sale agreement with Maricopa Auberge for the construction of the La Quinta Hotel in the Copper Sky area.

The new agreement amends the sale of the property to Maricopa Auberge to 87,120 square feet of property south of the southeast corner of John Wayne Parkway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The new agreement will also amend the purchase price to $411,970, which represents $5 per square foot.

A traffic signal at the intersection of Honeycutt Road and White and Parker Road is part of the capital improvement list in the tentative budget. The intersection is currently a four-way stop.

Maricopa City Council approved a nearly $106 million budget for the coming year at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The final annual city budget will be examined in June.

City Manager Rick Horst unveiled the tentative budget, showing it is filled with nearly $34 million in capital projects. Many of those have been on the city’s “wish list” for many years.

Horst said the general fund budget is $48.4 million and the capital projects budget is at $33.95 million. The Copper Sky budget is now part of the general fund.

There have also been numerous budgets consolidated. Horst said the city revenue projections in the coming budget do not include anticipated growth in sales tax collection due to anticipated construction. Rather, projections are based on history, not anticipation.

Horst also said primary property tax rates will remain unchanged, but he cautioned if valuations increase, people will be paying more in total taxes. Valuations are set by the county.

The 2019-20 budget is nearly $1 million less than the current year’s budget. For the first time in the city’s history the budget will establish an asset-replacement fund and it sets aside additional funds in support of self-insured losses in the event of a disaster.

Some of the major capital improvement projects Horst unveiled Tuesday include:

  • The new library construction in fiscal year 2019-20.
  • The repurposing of the existing library as a senior and veteran center.
  • A “monument sign” to welcome people entering the city on SR 347.
  • The synchronization of traffic signals on State Route 347 in city limits.
  • A flood-warning system.
  • An SR 347 truck by-pass study.
  • The extension of Bowlin Road and the addition of a crossing.
  • The renovations of Heritage Park.
  • A Santa Cruz Wash flood control solution that will open thousands of acres of land for development.
  • A traffic light at White & Parker and Honeycutt Road.
  • The widening of Smith-Enke Road and Chase Drive to White & Parker Road.
  • Improvements on Pershing Road.
  • A crossing on the Rancho El Dorado Wash north.

The council unanimously approved the tentative budget and will examine the city’s final budget at the June 4 meeting.

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The Maricopa City Council approved the extension of a 16-inch water main down State Route 238 west of Maricopa Tuesday evening at their regularly scheduled meeting.

In a three-way agreement, a 16-inch water main will be extended one mile from its present location at Smith-Enke Road and SR 347 by Global Water Resources then the City of Maricopa will extend the line another three miles west along SR 238 with the goal of servicing the new Apex Motor Club location. The cost of the line is estimated to be about $750,000 per mile, possibly more.

The city’s share of the extension is $1.5 million, and Apex will kick in $1 million.

The city eventually is expected to recoup its $1.5 million from Global Water as developers build in the area and pay to tap into the new water main.

Global will also pay for the upsizing of the water main along the city’s three-mile extension area from 12-inch to 16-inch pipe.

At the city council meeting, a citizen asked members of the council what the city will gain from spending $1.5 million for the extension.

City Manager Rick Horst said the Maricopa city limits already extend west of the city into the area where the water line will be constructed. He said other municipal utilities also are available in the area.

“We are currently looking at making this as an economic development investment,” Horst said. “This is a program to have 100 percent of this returned to us by the utility. It is an investment with a full return of it back to the city. What this does for us is open up thousands of acres for future development, both residential and commercial. More importantly, as a part of our strategic plan process, we are looking at a long-range industrial park with a possible rail spur inland port. It will support future jobs. We are making a performance investment with 100 percent return in exchange for tens if not hundreds of millions in private investments.”

Ron Fleming, CEO of Global, said Monday that extending the 16-inch trunk line one mile west will improve water pressures and services to residents and businesses already in the area. The line extension will connect in the Estrella Gin area, near the location of the new fire department. The city also has the Estrella Gin business park, that is a 50+ acre, city-owned parcel located just west of the intersection of Edison Road and Roosevelt Avenue.

 

The opening step toward a new Maricopa Public Library was taken Tuesday at the regular meeting of the city council.

Maricopa City Council approved a $830,530 contract with Hidell Associates Architects, Inc., of Carrollton, Texas, for design and construction administration services to build the new library facility. Hidell Associates Architects’ sole job is designing libraries around the nation.

The council approved the beginning of a new city library with a unanimous vote.

“The current library facility is too small and somewhat outdated,” said City Manager Rick Horst. “The city has anticipated, for a long time, the opportunity to create a new facility to this city.”

Horst said the Arizona Legislature adopted new debt fee rules in 2014. Under those rules changes it is now required that the city expend these funds for a library prior to the end of 2019 or they lose them. The funds could only be used toward a library project, according to Horst.

“We should do more with the architect design, construction and guidance, so that we do not risk losing these funds,” Hosrt told the council.

The library project being proposed Tuesday was what Horst called the first phase of the library. He said the proposed building would be about 25,000 square feet in size when phase one is completed. It will double in size when phase two is implemented.

“We feel, as a staff, that we can do this without any tax increases to our constituents,” he said. “We feel very comfortable that we can do this without any debt to the city. Ultimately, 25,000 square feet will not be enough, so we are planning space-wise for an additional 25,000 square feet.”

Horst said the city will likely also add branch libraries around the community.

There will be at least two public meetings in March and April where citizens can have input into the library’s design. The dates of the meetings will be announced soon, he said.

The location of the library has been planned to be part of the 140-acre city center complex and built just south of city hall. The city center complex is the geographical center of the City of Maricopa boundaries.

Horst said the new library will likely cost about $8 million to build but final costs, after furnishings and technology are installed, will be more in the $10 million range.

Funding for the $800,000 contract awarded to Hidell Associates Architects on Tuesday is paid from the city’s Library DIF1 ORG-32133135 funds.

Horst said the current library location on Smith-Enke Road will likely be turned into use by senior citizens, veterans, arts and performing art presentations, musical performances, public meetings and rentals for special events. He said that the space should accommodating between 200 and 250 performances annually.

The current Maricopa Veterans Center, next to the new Heritage Park on the Maricopa/Casa Grande Highway, could be turned over to the Historical Society for a museum next to the Zephyr rail car, according to Horst.

 

In other matters Tuesday evening:

The council voted to keep its regular meetings at 7 p.m. and mostly eliminate the work sessions they have been having at 6 p.m. before the regular meetings. The work sessions, if needed, will be part of the regular meetings or called as a special meeting. The start time of the regular meetings can also be adjusted with the declaration of a special meeting in the event of a lengthy agenda.

The council approved the sale of land to Maricopa Auberge LLC in the Copper Sky Commercial district. The location will allow Maricopa Auberge to build an approximately 90-room business class LaQuinta Hotel at the site. The 87,120 square foot site is being sold to Maricopa Auberge for $435,600.

The council approved the elimination of the Non-Profit Funding Evaluation Committee, the Veteran Affairs Committee and eliminating the Youth Internship Program Advisory Committee. The changes are requested as the three committees are no longer necessary or functional.

The current library building was constructed in 2009.

Maricopa City Council will consider hiring an architect to design a new public library at tonight’s city council meeting.

The measure to establish a new library begins with a $830,530 contract with Hidell Associates Architects, Inc., of Carrollton, Texas, for design and construction administration services for the new library facility. Funding to pay the contract is already secured.

The matter is currently on the Council’s consent agenda but may be moved into the regular agenda items, if one of the council members seeks to discuss the awarding of a more than $800,000 contract in more detail.

According to the meeting consent agenda, “The Mayor and City Council shall discuss and possibly take action to create a project in the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) by drawing on existing capacity in the CIP, and to approve the Design Consultant Contract with Hidell Associates Architects, Inc.”

Funding for the project includes an amount not to exceed $722,220.00 plus a City Manager’s allowance of $108,300 (equal to 15 percent), for a total amount not to exceed $830,530.

Also on the agenda is the possible amendment of the times the council meets to 6 or 6:30  p.m. or to remain with their regular 7 p.m. meeting times.

The council will also discuss the elimination of the Non-Profit Funding Evaluation Committee, the Veteran Affairs Committee and eliminating the Youth Internship Program Advisory Committee. The changes are requested as the three committees are no longer necessary or functional.

The library moved several times in its long history. Before the current library was built in 2009, it was housed in what is now the Maricopa Veterans Center.

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City Manager Rick Horst leads a discussion of Maricopa's goals. Photo by Jim Headley

Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)
1. Expedite removal of Maricopa from the FEMA 100-year flood plain.
2. Public/private utilities infrastructure of the city ensures that economic development remains robust and citizens are served in the best and most reliable way.
3. Encourage development of industrial and business parks to enhance employment opportunities and bolster the local economy.
4. Creative placemaking and event tourism – creating a destination city.
5. Evaluate annexation of land to accommodate the city’s projected growth and economic prosperity.

At a city council retreat on Wednesday, Maricopa City Manager Rick Horst recommend the city and Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) combine offices because they essentially have the same mission – promoting Maricopa.

“Their website and our website are two different websites with the same information,” Horst said. “We are paying for and managing two separate websites. I’m not sure that make sense. We are all invested in the same plan. They could act as a business facilitator for us.”

He said MEDA often has different conversations with individual builders, developers and investors that the city doesn’t, because MEDA can keep information more confidential, while the city may not be able to.

“Why don’t they (MEDA) have a larger presence,” he said. “They should be front and center as a partner organization with the city of Maricopa. We are a partner of MEDA and we’re tied at the hip. Their strategies and solutions really shouldn’t be different than ours. There is value from them that we can receive that we are not yet receiving.”

The city has been discussing the 500-acre Estrella Gin Industrial Park. Horst suggested the construction of a 10,000 to 12,000 square foot spec building and including MEDA in that new building.

“I think MEDA needs a home,” he said. “It needs a place where citizens can come in. It says Maricopa EDA, not MEDA. With a presence, so people can come in and know where they can go.”

He said staffing would be a problem if MEDA were to open an official office. His solution is to combine the city economic development office and MEDA into the same location, so they could help each other. The combined office would only be a small part of the larger spec building.

“I think we would save money,” he said, “because of the redundancy. We don’t need separate marketing programs. We don’t need two separate websites. Look at theirs, look at ours, I dare you to find anything different in them. They should help us achieve our objectives and our projects. I think they could help us with the flood plain issue. At the end of the day, we are going to have to pay for it. Who better than they can help us get the financial support. Those are my thoughts on MEDA. To take a great organization and raise it to a new level by combining forces.”

Horst’s seven-hour workshop on Wednesday focused on the city’s 2040 Vision Plan, “which is the foundation of any long-range plan, is aspirational in nature and articulates the desired future state of the community,” according to the presentation.

The 2040 plan is intended to inspire the stakeholders in the community to have a common goal in the success of Maricopa.

Horst explained the city strategic plan, a two-year program “designed to provide a higher strategic direction that will give the community a better sense of where the city is heading.”

He spoke about how to execute the plan, sustain the city’s mission, government efficiency and the identification of the city’s Wildly Important Goals (WIGS).

His lists of WIGS were:

Expedite removal of Maricopa from the FEMA 100-year flood plain.
Public/private utilities infrastructure of the city ensures that economic development remains robust and citizens are served in the best and most reliable way.
Encourage development of industrial and business parks to enhance employment opportunities and bolster the local economy.
Creative placemaking and event tourism – creating a destination city.
Evaluate annexation of land to accommodate the city’s projected growth and economic prosperity.

Horst also spoke about changes and eliminations of city boards which are no longer needed. He recommended eliminating the Non Profit Funding Evaluation Committee, the Veteran Affairs Committee and the Youth Internship Program Advisory Committee. All three committees have not met for quite a while and the Veteran’s committee doesn’t have the expertise necessary to assist Veterans while other community services are available to better assist them, according to Horst.

He proposed re-purposing the Parks, Recreation and Library Advisory Committee into the Community Services Advisory Board. He also recommended combining Cultural Affairs, Event Tourism, Age-Friendly Maricopa and Arts commissions into the newly established Community Services Advisory Board.

He recommended making the Community Services Advisory Board a nine-person board appointed by city council. He also recommended sub-committees under the board.

Mayor Christian Price presents the Black History Month proclamation to Rev. Arnold Jackson. Photo by Jim Headley

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Mayor Christian Price made a proclamation declaring February as National Black History Month in Maricopa:

Whereas, Diversity of social identity, including racial and cultural identity, contributes positively to the development of society and is a matter of pride and celebration; and
Whereas, Americans of African descent have made valuable and lasting contributions to our country and our state, achieving exceptional success in all aspects of society including business, education, politics, science and the arts; and
Whereas, in 1976, Black History Month was adopted to honor and affirm the importance of the history of African Americans and to focus on the stories and teachings of those who helped build our nation, advance the cause of civil rights and strengthen families and communities; and
Whereas, the City of Maricopa continues to work toward becoming an inclusive community in which all citizens, past, present, and future, are respected and recognized for their contributions and potential contributions to our community, the state, the country, and the world.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Christian Price, Mayor of the City of Maricopa, do hereby proclaim the month of February 2019 as Black History Month in the City of Maricopa, Arizona, and we urge all citizens to join with us in celebrating the significance of Black culture in its past, present, and going forward into the future.

After he presented Rev. Arnold Jackson with the proclamation, a short reception took place in the city hall lobby to honor Black History Month. Cobbler and ice cream were served by Helen’s Kitchen, and the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was sung.

After returning to session after the short reception, the city council discussed changing the way council meeting are run, including the elimination of most of the 6 p.m. work sessions that take place before the regular meetings at 7.

Council members also discussed whether they should start their regular meetings at 6, 6:30 or 7 p.m. The matter will be discussed and potentially voted on at their next meeting on Feb. 19.

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The transportation plan looks at current and proposed lighted intersections.

The final edition of the Maricopa Area Transportation Plan (ATP) debuted Tuesday night at a city council work session.

The report, compiled by Wilson and Company of Phoenix with a price tag of $75,000, examines the transportation needs of Maricopa, both now and into the future. Most of the burden of the study’s cost was paid for by Maricopa Associations of Governments (MAG) through the Arizona Department of Transportation and the additional $30,000 was credited as staff work by the city of Maricopa.

The study examined the transportation needs inside the city. The final report will be submitted to the city council for approval on Feb. 19.

Amy Moran, senior project manager for Wilson and Company, told the council members Tuesday the study’s purpose was to provide guidance for the connectivity of collector and local facilities to the arterial and parkway facilities identified in the ATP, develop Access Management Guidelines for use by city staff and initial efforts focus on incorporated area for proof of concept before expanding to entire planning area.

Amy Moran, senior project manager for Wilson and Company. Photo by Jim Headley

Moran said the anticipated needs of traffic signals in the city should remain at the half-mile and mile intervals that is currently being practiced. There are a few exceptions to those needs as traffic patterns dictate, she said.

Moran also presented the Transit Demand Study prepared by her company.

Moran told the council members Tuesday the study’s purpose was to identify potential transit service enhancements, to address existing and future needs of residents and visitors, to improve current services, to expand services within the city, address regional connectivity needs and anticipate influence of changing technologies.

During her presentation, Moran said current regional service needs, in order of importance, are to Chandler, then Tempe, Ahwatukee/South Phoenix and Casa Grande. She said projected needs in 2040 will remain the same but their order of importance should change to Chandler, Casa Grande, Tempe and Ahwatukee/South Phoenix.

She proposed a new route to someday take people to Tempe and Sky Harbor Airport.

Both the Transit Demand Study and the Area Transportation Plan will be presented to the city council for approval on Feb. 19.

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Fee changes for the use of Copper Sky received the OK from city council Tuesday.

Tuesday evening the Maricopa City Council unanimously approved a resolution that will change fees at Copper Sky Multigenerational Center at their regularly scheduled meeting.

The new fees will impact the use of day passes while promoting six-month and annual memberships in an effort to make Copper Sky more sustainable and offer more services to citizens.

“While we probably didn’t please absolutely everybody, I think we generally reached a consensus,” Community Services Director Nathan Ullyot said of conversations with city committees. “For the most part, we have some support for these schedules.”

With all the changes in membership costs, the city is adding a scholarship program that gives discounts on memberships and classes based on income levels.

Seniors automatically get a 10-percent discount but can get further discounts based on income levels. If seniors qualify for the scholarships and the regular senior discounts, they could save up to 50 percent off their memberships.

Seniors will no longer have a separate price point.

Some seniors may also qualify for assistance through their health insurance programs.

The scholarship program has two discount levels of 20 and 40 percent off membership costs. The application for a scholarship is simple and only one-page long.

In applying for a scholarship, the city asks for a tax return, a current income statement and proof of residence like a utility bill or driver’s license. Copies of the documents will also be returned or destroyed after application processing, which should take two weeks or less.

Councilmember Nancy Smith said her earlier concerns over the fee changes were centered on the senior rates.

“I felt so strongly about this concern, that I wanted you to have lots of people to talk to,” she told Ullyot. She thanked Ullyot for presenting the information in many settings, including city committees. Smith also said senior advocate Joan Koczor was a vital part of getting the word out and starting strong communication between residents and City Hall.

Members will also save with discounts on sports programs, like aquatics classes or enrichment classes, as part of their membership. They also receive free event parking and fun-zone passes. Members also receive 10 guest passes per year.

Rates will be categorized at three levels for Copper Sky – member, resident and non-resident.

Copper Sky has about 6,800 members with approximately 2,000 senior members.

The Council also heard a presentation by Denyse Airheart, Maricopa’s director of Economic Development, on plans for an 18-acre development around Copper Sky that will include La Quinta Hotel, 620 units of multifamily housing, a 172-unit Morning Star Assisted Living Center and 53,000 square feet of new retail space.

Airheart unveiled the $146-million plan at the Jan. 9 special meeting between the Maricopa Economic Development Alliance (MEDA) and Maricopa City Council.

Ron Fleming, CEO of Global Water, talks about water supply with Maricopa City Council. Photo by Jim Headley

“The Pinal County water management system is broken. It’s been broken for two-and-a-half years.” — Ron Fleming, Global Water

Global Water Resources CEO Ron Fleming said the lack and expense of water will someday seriously limit growth in Arizona.

He said the water issue is already hindering growth in some parts of Pinal County.

In speaking before the Maricopa City Council on Tuesday during a work session, Fleming said he doesn’t see the water situation as a crisis because outside water can be purchased if local reserves aren’t enough. He did admit that buying water will be expensive.

“Water, it’s a very complicated topic right now. There’s a lot of moving parts,” Fleming said. “It is important to know that smart water management that we have put into place in this city is more than adequate right now.”

Global Water is the main water utility in Maricopa.

He said smart meters and reuse of recycle water is vital to Pinal County’s future.

“The Pinal County water management system is broken. It’s been broken for two-and-a-half years,” Fleming said. “It’s been a year since the Department of Water Resources has met the stakeholders and talked about how we work together to fix that broken water supply program.”

He said the good news is that the City of Maricopa has wells, and growth can occur.

However, in other parts of the county the lack of quality water is already impacting growth opportunities, but he didn’t say what areas are impacted.

Arizona has launched a Drought Contingency Proposal (DCP) program with the federal government. Fleming said the DCP will likely result in more underground pumping in Pinal County as less water will be taken out of the Colorado River.

“Groundwater is the foundation for growth in Pinal County for the foreseeable future,” Fleming said. “What we need to do is truly understand the groundwater aquifers in the county, so that we can properly establish that foundation that the state can build from. We need to try and determine what adaptation and mitigation strategies are necessary to address a longer-term issue.”

He said Global Water is using the state’s water model as a guide, but the company wants to use it in different ways to possibly find better solutions.

“People are surprised to learn that there isn’t a regional water plan. It is up to the independent city,” he said, adding the state does regulate water but they don’t necessarily solve issues that arise.

He said it makes sense that cities in this area work together to make a more regional resource plan.

Jake Lenderking, Global Water’s director of water resources, told the city council water resources are adequate currently in Maricopa. He went through a PowerPoint presentation showing water demand and expectations for the future.

He said the annual water that flows into the Colorado River system is being directly impacted by the drought that has been going on for decades.

The shortages mean less water is available for everything including cities and agriculture.

“The good news is … we’re in a good place,” Fleming said after the presentation. “We won’t see any of these issues. The issue is long-term. The things we talked about here today could prevent growth at some point. Economic development, job loss, tax revenues. When we step out from the city of Maricopa, that situation is already occurring in some parts of Pinal County.”

He said the state of Arizona is trying to ensure “we get the maximum benefit of the water resources that we have available.”

He said this also impacts the cost of water and makes it rise “fairly rapid.”

“What DCP is about is protecting the Colorado River and Lake Mead,” he said.

Fleming said once Lake Mead hits the maximum drought line, there are “immediate mandatory restrictions” put into place on the state’s ability to take water is seriously impacted. The DCP is to help prevent Lake Mead from hitting the drought line, so deep restrictions don’t occur.

Pinal County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution Jan. 9 to urge the state Legislature “to provide sufficient funds to Pinal Agricultural Enterprises to access the groundwater necessary to allow the Pinal County agricultural economy to continue when Colorado River water is limited.”

“I don’t believe that we are going to get to a place in the local community or in the greater state where it significantly inhibits our ability to grow and do business,” Fleming said. “It’s just going to cost more, take longer and get more complicated, but we will solve this.”

He said the cheapest water resource available is “what we have today.” He said everyone needs to protect, stretch, conserve and get maximum benefit from current supply before “we have to go after other resources.”

He added, “But that day will come … It won’t limit the growth here, but we need to know that it will come with additional costs. The resources are out there. It will just cost more and take more time to put it into place when that day comes.”

City councilman Marvin Brown has been concerned about water for decades. He questioned Fleming’s optimism about the future of water in Arizona. Many, including Brown, believe the state’s water resources will be in serious shape by 2026.

“2026 will happen,” Brown said.

Fleming said that the future of water is not a crisis yet, but it is also not “rosy.” He said the solution is “to import water from somewhere else.”

“We are blessed in Pinal County with very large high quality underground aquifers. The situation that has developed is through the state’s ensured water supply program, which is based on a regulatory construct and their projections of huge demand in this area,” Fleming said, adding that 95 percent of water pumping is for agriculture.

He said he believes, in the future, ag producers will likely have to give up some of their water resources.

“There is a lot of opportunity to do more with the resources that we are blessed with here. I think Pinal County can handle a significant amount of growth,” he said.

Fleming told the city council Global Water’s board of directors just approved $8 million for infrastructure improvements in Maricopa. He said the funds will be used for well, distribution and pipeline improvements.

“What we’re going to focus on primarily are pipeline projects,” Fleming said. “We need to do some new pipeline extensions that further connect our distribution grid.”

He said it will make pressure and flow much better across their pipeline system, especially with the growth of Maricopa and across the farther reaches of this network.

He said the expansion of the Copper Sky area will mean more water will be needed in the city as housing for 3,000 additional residents will be added. Global Water will also be fixing some of the older parts of their pipeline system.

Another project on the table is Global Water’s first aquifer recharge facility.

“We will be taking the excess recycled water and recharging it into the underground aquifer,” he said, adding this is the second recharge facility in Pinal County.

The facility will eliminate all present water discharge into the Santa Rosa Wash.

“We reused the recycled water for all outdoor common area irrigation,” he said. “However, in winter months, there is more supply than there is demand.”

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Six new fighters were pinned Tuesday. Photo by Jim Headley

 

Four city of Maricopa employees were honored Tuesday evening as the city presented their 2018 City of Maricopa employee excellence awards at the regular meeting of the Maricopa City Council.

Human Resources Director Fernanda Osgood said 13 employees were nominated this year.

“They were all highly qualified, she said. “It was actually was very tough for the executive committee to come to a decision of who the winners will be.”

Margeux Edwards, was selected for her excellence as a non-management employee; Mike Riggs, as mid-management employee; Jorge Del Ruo, for public safety; and Kathy Irwin, as a part time employee. A total of 13 employee nominations were received this year. The city’s employee award program began in 2013.

Tuesday, the city also pinned six new firefighters, Adam Wilson, Jeffry Fuller, Jay Boss, Benjamin Foster, Anthony Ruiz and Benjamin Blanco.

In other matters Tuesday evening, the city council approved changes to the city’s Chapter 8 Business Regulations. The changes were necessary because the city is eliminating the need for business licenses, except for “adult” based businesses.

The matter was quickly approved with no discussion and goes into effect on Jan. 1.

The city is creating a business registry to replace the business licensing. Learn more about the registry here

The council voted to approve a new Geographic Information Systems Technician position to help the city easily have information needed to map utilities and infrastructure accurately.

The council approved an Intergovernmental Agreement between the State of Arizona and the City of Maricopa for design and construction of improvements that add four miles of fiber backbone infrastructure for City of Maricopa use.

The council accepted an US Department of Justice – Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) STOP School Violence Prevention Program award in the amount of $147,365 with a performance period of two years.  The city has a matching component for each year.  A matching requirement of $49,122.00 has been budgeted in the coming year.

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Peg Chapados was presented with her own faux street sign as she stepped down from council Tuesday. Photo by Victor Moreno

Vice Mayor Peggy Chapados borrowed one from David Letterman as she retired from the Maricopa City Council after six years Tuesday night.

At Tuesday’s regular city council meeting, Mayor Christian Price said Chapados is one of the “kindest people” he knows.

“We may not always agree with her, but you know where she stands. She is always thinking of other people in one fashion or another. If you know Peg at all, you know she is one of the most organized people you will ever meet. So, to go away – of course she has a PowerPoint presentation. You think I’m kidding but she has one. Take it away,” Price said.

Chapados said she wanted to go out in an “unconventional” manner, so she read her top 10 list of “take-aways that she has learned by being on the Maricopa City Council.”

10. Be a public servant.

9. You don’t know what you don’t know.

8. Preparing for government is something like an iceberg – you only see what’s on the surface.

7. The meetings are the easiest part of this job.

6. It’s not about me, it’s about my city.

5. Serve before self.

4. It’s about building something positive.

3. You can’t do this job alone.

2. Maricopa has the greatest volunteers, staff, public safety personnel, executive team and city manager.

1. This is the best job I’ll ever have – so thank you.

Following a standing ovation, Chapados personally thanked those who helped her during her six years on the city council, past and present. “My fellow council members, thank you for the privilege of serving with you. We made a lot of great decisions here and we got a lot accomplished. We should be proud,” Chapados said. She also thanked the voters of Maricopa for putting their faith in her and electing her to office.

The city fire department presented Chapados with a bronze firefighter figure and made her a lifetime honorary member of the Maricopa Fire/Medical Department.

Council members presented Chapados with a custom-made Maricopa street sign with the street name of “Chapados Way” on it. They also presented her with a “basket of snacks” and a cat-themed Christmas sweater.

Re-elected Councilmember Henry Wade takes the oath from Judge Lyle Riggs. He was subsequently voted vice mayor by the rest of the council. Photo by Victor Moreno

Following her farewell, re-elected members of the council Vincent Manfredi and Henry Wade were sworn into office by the Honorable Judge Lyle Riggs along with Rich Vitiello, who is replacing Chapados on the board.

The council stopped its regular meeting for a short reception in the lobby to celebrate the swearing-in ceremonies with cookies and lemonade.

Besides the consent agenda and some presentations and reports, the only thing on the council’s agenda was the re-zoning of three tracts of land in the Copper Sky Development.

While zoning changes might be important, these three changes don’t really change the zoning of the land very much, according to Maricopa Senior Planner Rodolfo Lopez. Instead the changes simply modernized wording to update the properties from old to new zoning codes.

There are no proposed development plans for the property at this time, according to Lopez. There was no discussion about the zoning changes by members of the council on Tuesday evening as they approved the measures.

One matter at the end of the zoning changes did allow the city to modify the maximum height of buildings allowed in the city from 40 to 60 feet. The change was approved by the council unanimously with little discussion.

At the end of the meeting, board member Marvin Brown, a former vice mayor, nominated Henry Wade as vice mayor, and the council voted 7-0 to approve his nomination.

Prior to Chapados’ exit, the city council opened Tuesday’s meeting with a pinning ceremony for the city fire department promotions of Brad Pitassi and Joshua Eads to the rank of captain and Justin Henzel to engineer.



Vincent Manfredi is minority owner of InMaricopa.

Sworn in Tuesday were (from left) Vincent Manfredi, Rich Vitiello and Henry Wade. Photos by Victor Moreno

The Peed property was once envisioned as a site for City Hall. Now it sits without infrastructure and is used to store asphalt. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 

From State Route 238 to Stanfield, the City of Maricopa owns a wide array of land parcels. Since 2004, the City has acquired about $143 million in property.

While there are parks, public buildings, streets, rights of way and other uses on much of the property, City Hall has some parcels listed simply as “miscellaneous,” and there are still undeveloped acres. The City has plans for some parcels, but others will sit empty for the foreseeable future.

“We are doing the city an injustice by not developing these properties,” Councilwoman Julia Gusse said. “Our predecessors did a great job of securing these properties for future development and growth; it’s time we put them to good use.”

One of the longest-held properties has been the most divisive and the least likely to be developed any time soon.

PEED PROPERTY

Called the Peed property and noted as miscellaneous, the 11-acre parcel on SR 238 cost the city $1.2 million in 2006.

“It has no water; it has no utilities,” Councilmember Marvin Brown said. “The city bought it because a former council member pushed the former council to do so.”

The property initially was brought to the council as 150 acres for a possible location of a city hall. At the time, the council was set to spend $14.6 million for it. Steve Baker, then-councilmember, was a real estate agent representing property owner Dennis Peed. While Baker recused himself from votes on the matter, it was a relationship that vexed residents and other Realtors.

After months of debate in 2006, the City ended up buying only the southern portion of the property abutting SR 238. Its continued lack of infrastructure keeps it on a backburner, but some current councilmembers have ideas.

Councilmember Nancy Smith said her vision of the SR 238 corridor is “something similar to the Price Road Corridor in Chandler. Basically, it would include light industrial businesses with high paying jobs.”

Vice Mayor Peg Chapados, who is leaving city council in December, said she, too, sees a major transportation corridor, “a development with elements that complement surrounding growth and that offers the benefits and accessibility of being on SR 238.”

Though there has been little recent city discussion about the Peed property, Councilmember Vincent Manfredi sees it being part of a thriving business park, though it is used as asphalt storage now. There are caveats.

“The city only owns a tiny portion of the surrounding area,” Manfredi said. “Much of the development of the Peed properly rests on the shoulders of surrounding development. Before anything can really be accomplished with the Peed property, there are some flood-zone limitations that must be corrected.

 

City Center as space for commercial and residential. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

CITY CENTER

In 2008, Maricopa acquired 129 acres off White and Parker Road for City Hall and a city center at a cost of $3 million. Five years later, the City Hall building ($14.5 million) and police station ($3.9 million) were completed, but there remain wide open spaces for development. What kind of development has been an ongoing discussion this year. Its full cash value now is $12.6 million.

Smith said her vision for city center correlates with an open house held earlier this year for public feedback. “It would include civic buildings, small businesses, diverse housing and restaurants,” she said. “It would be walkable, have open space and be a place to meet up with family and friends.”

Chapados said it should be an area “where people come to live, work, play, learn, socialize and recreate.” Manfredi said it could be something “similar to the Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix.”

Copper Sky is more than just a park but is intended for commercial development, including a hotel. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

COPPER SKY

In 2010, the City acquired part of Bowlin Plaza property that was to become Copper Sky and the police substation at Copper Sky. The cost of the five acres for the substation and 118.5 acres for the park was $6.8 million. Another $15.9 million was invested in the recreation center and aquatic center in 2014.

From the beginning, Copper Sky was seen as more than a park. A recent contract with Commercial Properties Inc. aims at commercial development on city land between the park and John Wayne Parkway, to be anchored by a hotel.

Chapados wants the area to create the “sense of place” developers have long talked about for Maricopa. “A robust combination of retail, a hotel or two, and possibly residential units that complement Copper Sky as an active, vibrant recreation and aquatic destination to be enjoyed year-round.”

Cecil Yates, property management director for CPI, told the Maricopa City Council he already had three hotel users interested. “They want to stick shovels in the ground as soon as possible,” Yates said.

“I think you’ll find that at the end of the day the City will sell that land, but it will be to restaurateurs, hoteliers, residential units, shops, all those type of things,” City Manager Rick Horst said. “The public benefit will come in a lot of forms, to include the revenues needed to support Parks and Rec and Public Safety, but also lifestyle.”

Estrella Gin Business Park. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

ESTRELLA GIN BUSINESS PARK

Maricopa purchased the Estrella Gin property for $3.1 million in 2011. It has been intended for a light industrial business park. Manfredi also imagines a container park.

“This property has a lot of potential, if we can find the right developer to work with us as a city,” he said.

But it has been a struggle to bring in companies. The City ended its agreement with The Boyer Company, which produced no tenants or buildings in four years, and Economic Development Director Denyse Airheart said the city may have a new developer on board soon.

“My experience tells me the market gets it right about 85 percent of the time, and government gets it right about 30 percent of the time, so we have to create partnerships,” Horst said. “There’ll come a time when we don’t have to do that anymore because the market will take over.”

Chapados said she would like the business park to complement “Maricopa’s Heritage District and rich history through design function, and tenancy.” She added it “is poised to be Maricopa’s first job-center/business-park destination that also offers a place to house historically significant components, like a museum. It’s easily accessible with room to grow and lots to offer.”

Maricopa is also heavily invested in the under-construction overpass that will re-create midtown. Smith sees an interesting future coming to the Heritage District that involves Estrella Gin property.

“It would be great to have a nice, historical-looking building that serves as a train depot, café and historical museum by the railroad tracks,” she said. “Close to this building is the pedestrian overpass that allows both communities north and south of the tracks to safely cross the railroad tracks, especially for the high school students who currently cross there.”

MISCELLANEOUS

  • The area now called Pacana Park was acquired in 2006 for $1.8 million. It was 18 acres. In 2008, the City acquired 10 acres for $700,000 to expand Pacana Park to the south.
  • In 2007, the City – with its municipal fire department taking over for the Maricopa Volunteer Fire Department – purchased scattered pieces of property of 1-3 acres each for future fire stations. The stations have been built on Porter Road, Edison Road, Bowlin Road and Alterra Parkway. There remains one parcel lying well outside the city boundaries but in the middle of Maricopa’s future planning area. What is listed as the Stanfield Site is a one-acre, vacant lot on Pepper Place in Hidden Valley Estates. It was acquired for $10,000 on a quitclaim deed, costing the city nothing, and the council has started discussions of disposing of it.
  • The city acquired the building for the current Maricopa Public Library in 2009 with a sale price of $1.9 million, according to county records.
  • In 2010, Maricopa paid $3 million for a strip of land along the Santa Rosa Wash east of White and Parker Road and south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Vincent Manfredi is a minority owner in InMaricopa.


This story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

The proposed Vista Village property (star) is almost six acres.

A developer wants to build a 100-unit apartment complex in Maricopa, and a vote by Maricopa City Council on Tuesday may spur the project.

As proposed by Englewood Group, Vista Village will be constructed on a triangular, six-acre lot north of Walmart and south of Banner Health on Porter Road. The multi-building development would include two-story and three-story buildings with a pool, laundry, fitness center and playground.

The city council approved the re-zoning of the property from light industry to general mixed use. It was not an approval of the project but allowed Englewood Group to start the development process. It would be the first apartment complex in the city.

No member of the public or city council spoke against the re-zoning at the Tuesday hearing. Planner Rodolfo Lopez said the Development Services department did not receive any public comment, either.

The rezoning was previously recommended by city staff and by the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Development Services commissioned a study last year on housing needs in Maricopa. The idea of an apartment complex has been controversial in the past, with opponents saying rentals bring crime, but it has gained interest in the past year.

The Housing Needs Assessment Report from July 2017 noted that 97 percent of Maricopa’s housing is single-family homes, far above the Arizona average of 64 percent. It found a lack of “work force” housing for teachers, police, etc.

“For single people who wish to live alone, there are no housing options other than living alone in a large home,” the report stated.

The result is two or more families renting one “single-family” home.

Englewood, which has 74 properties in Arizona, Indiana and Illinois, has been eyeing Maricopa for more than a year.

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Maricopa City Council marked October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a proclamation by Mayor Christian Price. The entry to City Hall was also lighted in purple symbolic of the event.

Whereas, domestic violence is prevalent throughout the region, and more than 90 people lost their lives due to domestic violence in Arizona in 2017, with at least 53 deaths occurring within the Maricopa Association of Governments region; and
Whereas, every 44 minutes in Arizona, one or more children witness domestic violence, and up to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse their children, according to an Arizona Department of Health Services report; and
Whereas, the trauma and suffering caused by domestic violence destroys families, threatens the safety of neighborhoods, and weakens the ability of communities to thrive; and
Whereas, the City of Maricopa works collaboratively with community agencies to effectively address, prevent, and eradicate domestic violence; and
Whereas, the City of Maricopa is dedicated to ensuring the safety of domestic violence survivors and holding abusers accountable; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Christian Price, Mayor of the City of Maricopa, do hereby proclaim the month of October, 2018, as DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH in the City of Maricopa.

Dated this 2nd day of October, 2018

By Marvin L. Brown

Marvin Brown. (Photo by Tyler Loveall)

As a council member of the City of Maricopa for 10 years, I have had the opportunity to work with and observe a number of men and women who also served on council. They brought different attitudes, personalities and philosophies.

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt said “We need enthusiasm, imagination, and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely.”

There are two men running for council who possess these qualities, one is Henry Wade, a current colleague, who has met the test of leadership and resoluteness. The other is Rich Vitiello, whose passion and enthusiasm, coupled with having 28 years of business experience brings an asset to this council. When I speak with Rich, I am mindful of that old saying by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “what are you doing for others?”

Rich indeed believes in helping others.


Marvin L. Brown is a member of Maricopa City Council and former vice mayor.

Gary Miller

By Gary Miller

Through our common ground to help shape our city into an excellent community, I have had opportunities over the last four years to work with Bob on the Board of Adjustment, Planning & Zoning Commission and other community development matters. I will vote for Bob Marsh to serve on City Council because of his knowledge, experience, and passion, for Maricopa. I do believe that experience is more than just being familiar with a job, or a willingness to serve the public, or even knowing what to expect in elective office. Experience is what I consider first when voting for a candidate.

Bob’s experience reflects a lot of hard work and dedication to the local community development process. His Maricopa experience to name a few includes membership on the Board of Adjustment, Planning & Zoning Commission, Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium, Zoning Code Rewrite Task Force, 2040 Vision, and is a graduate of the Maricopa Citizen Leadership Academy. Through our interactions, I learn that he is a semi-retired engineer with an engineering degree from MIT that utilizes a common-sense approach to solving problems. And he’s lived and worked in Arizona more than 25 years – he knows the territory and its challenges. He’s hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon 32 times! And back out!

Fresh out of college, he designed and built a computer hardware system for NASA that helped in the success of the Apollo moon landing missions. He led a major software development project at Honeywell/Phoenix that got oil flowing in the Alaska Pipeline during a national gasoline shortage crisis. And he was part of the development team in Tempe that developed McDonald’s first ever point of sale system. (Before that McD’s counter staff worldwide had to add up orders on paper with pencils.)

He also has decades of solution-focused experience in Community Development, building, integrating, and innovating Microsoft’s frameworks to better develop Microsoft’s global community of independent business partners – people like Data Doctors here in Maricopa.

His wife Cynthia is a retired RN, family counselor, and Phoenix radio talk show host, and I witness they both support each other’s work that’s devoted to build and to help improve the quality of life for Maricopa, for their subdivision, for seniors, and for the surrounding communities.

His website (https://maricopavotebob.com) does a good job of highlighting his priorities for community development that includes an approach how to meet the need to improve Senior Services, Health Services, Transportation, Employment, Flood Control & Prevention, and Housing within Maricopa. For example, a cost-effective way to improve senior services is by working with the Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium, Age-Friendly Maricopa Advisory Committee, and county/state/federal agencies by developing a way for senior services and community services to land in Maricopa by using the existing infrastructure in place.

I believe Bob’s leadership has made a positive impact on people’s lives here in Maricopa. He truly embraces what good leadership and hard work is about, which is why I recommend that you will vote for Bob Marsh for City Council. Vote for Bob!


Gary Miller, Ph.D., is a resident of Maricopa who serves on the Board of Adjustment and the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board.

 

Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

 

The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the City of Maricopa and Private Motorsports Group after a lawsuit by a resident.

Bonita Burks filed suit last year alleging a permit granted to PMG by the City for a private sports car recreation facility called Apex would cause her personal harm. Burks’ home in Rancho El Dorado is 5.2 miles east of the proposed racetrack. The decision was filed Monday.

The three-judge panel agreed with Pinal County Superior Court Judge Robert Olson that Burks did not present any evidence that there would be particular injury to her and therefore had no standing to sue.

“They agreed with us,” Mayor Christian Price said. “How are you being harmed in the middle of Rancho El Dorado?”

The judges also declined to waive the “standing” requirement as requested by Burks’ attorney, Timothy La Sota, who wanted to put the zoning actions of the city council before the judiciary.

“We, too, recognize that zoning is an important issue with potentially widespread impact,” Judge Garye Vazquez wrote for the court. “However, this specific zoning issue is restricted to Maricopa and stems from the transition between Maricopa’s old zoning code and new zoning code.  We, therefore, disagree with Burks that this case presents an issue of statewide importance that is likely to recur.”

The court also ruled the City and PMG are entitled to costs.

Though Maricopa had recently adopted a new zoning code, it granted PMG a permit for Apex Motor Club under the old zoning.

Price said the council was within its legislative rights, which the court affirmed.

“It was new zoning. There has to be a phasing period,” Price said. “With a big project, you don’t add it like that.”

He said the City may make that more clear in the future.

La Sota could not immediately be reached for comment.

debate_audience2

All seven candidates for three seats on the Maricopa City Council participated in a primary election forum at Maricopa Unified School District on Saturday. The Junior State of America Club at Maricopa High School organized and hosted the event, which allowed every candidate to answer a handful of questions submitted by the community. Maricopa Rotary Club was the presenting organization. Some responses:

Who has a plan for attracting more businesses and jobs?

Linette Caroselli: “To bring them here, we have to show the value of being here. When you support a small business, you’re supporting a dream.” Caroselli, an MUSD teacher, said the city needs to be customer-based.

Vincent Manfredi: “I think we need to concentrate on small-business owners who will grow.” The incumbent said Maricopa needs more office space, light industrial and infrastructure.

Bob Marsh: An IT consultant, Marsh said he might pull some industry strings connected to the Belmont smart city proposed by the founder of Microsoft. “I would contact Bill Gates and see if they could test some of their concepts here.”

Cynthia Morgan: The Maricopa Chamber of Commerce stalwart said the city should be “talking one-on-one” with companies that have potential to move to town.

Leon Potter: “Shop local.” The former councilmember and current write-in said the city needs to tap into local organizations like Maricopa Economic Development Alliance and Greater Phoenix Economic Council.

Paige Richie: “Hard work and accessibility.” The youngest candidate said the city should ask companies like car dealerships and call centers why they don’t locate to Maricopa.

Rich Vitiello: Asserting international business experience, Vitiello said he plans to “Work hard and meet people we need to work with.”

Henry Wade: The incumbent said the current council may have not always been successful, “but we didn’t quit.”

What is Maricopa’s water future?

Wade: Holding Arizona Corporation Commission’s feet to the fire, Wade said, relies on elections, and scrutinizing Global Water is less difficult “if the right folks are making decisions.” He said the city had looked into buying the private utility, but the subsequent tax rates would have been enormous.

Vitiello: Also saying the council needs to “stay on top of” Global Water constantly, Vitiello said it will take work. “I have a pool. My bills are pretty big.”

Richie: The city needs to work with Global Water, Richie said, “to find more cost effective and more sustainable options.”

Potter: “Regulating water is not within the city’s jurisdiction.” Potter said he intends to work with Global Water but also listen to constituents. “It takes a lot of negotiation and going in front of the Corporation Commission.”

Morgan: “We’ve all tried to fix the problem,” said Morgan, who led a push to take Global Water before the ACC and make a deal on fees. Because Global Water invested a lot of money in Maricopa, it won’t be leaving anytime soon, and she said the best solution is to keep talking with GWR staff one-on-one.

Marsh: “Developers aren’t going to build subdivisions without a 100-year supply.” Marsh said Maricopa had a “secret” water supply with the Santa Cruz. He said developers made the “stupid” decision to create green landscaping to lure Midwesterners into buying desert homes. “We’ve got to stop that.”

Manfredi: With current regulations and Global Water’s wells, Manfredi said, “I don’t believe we’re going to have a water problem for a very long time.”

Caroselli: To assure affordable water, Caroselli said the answer is to “elect a Corporation Commission that’s actually going to do something.”

About 90 attended the forum, which was sponsored by the Maricopa Monitor and Helen’s Kitchen. The candidates will next share the stage Aug. 4 during the InMaricopa.com Town Hall.

Vincent Manfredi is a minority owner of InMaricopa.

Seven people are competing for three seats on the Maricopa City Council. Vice Mayor Peg Chapados opted not to run this year, but Henry Wade and Vincent Manfredi are seeking re-election. They face five candidates, none of whom has held elected office but all of whom have provided varying degrees of community service to Maricopa. The Primary Election is Aug. 28. City council candidates will appear in a Town Hall debate Aug. 4 at Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center.

Here are the candidates in alphabetical order.


Linette Y. Caroselli

Linette Caroselli (submitted photo)

Age: 45
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Years in Maricopa: 4
Occupation: Teacher
Family: Widowed with three children (16, 19, 22)
Political background: First time entering politics, worked with Irvington Municipal Councilmember A. McElroy on Irvington Scholar Program and Community Development Zone
Previous community service: Take It to the Block: Voter Registration Drive, CNN screening- Black in American: Almighty Debt, Breast Cancer Walk, health fairs, chaired debutante balls, March of Dimes, Operation Big Book (donated school supplies to Maricopa Elementary and Desert Wind Middle School for four years), Swim 1922 (initiated program in Maricopa to teach children water safety with the AZ Seals), and more; I have over 20 years of community service experience.

What is the one thing you would like to change about Maricopa as a councilmember and why? My campaign slogan is Your City, Your Voice! The one thing I would love to change is development of community programs that involve the true voice of the city. I believe we can implement a full community collaboration that will provide quality services that are relevant, convenient and beneficial to the public involving all stakeholders. We can offer programs that benefit the community at large: human trafficking education, outreach programs for our veterans, health fairs inclusive of mental health, teen suicide prevention, campaign for a 24-hour emergency center, and exclusive activities and enrichment resources for our senior population.

Qualifications? A fresh perspective for Maricopa that involves thinking outside the box is what I offer. My ability to identify, analyze and implement efficient and wise targeted expenditures while providing greater service, greater progress to the public makes me qualified to serve my constituents.

Proudest achievement? My proudest achievement is being blessed to be a blessing. When I serve my community, it makes me proud and happy to pay it forward, exemplifying servant leadership. You do not have to be rich to serve your fellow man, but I have learned it requires collaboration, implementation and vision.

On what aspect of city government are you least knowledgeable? I just completed the Maricopa Citizen Leadership Academy, which was a great experience. I would love to learn more about transportation to better serve my constituents. With the current issues of Route 347, it is important to understand the dynamics and then present different avenues to resolve the problem.



Vincent Manfredi (incumbent)

Vincent Manfredi

Age: 47
Hometown: West New York, New Jersey (Exit 16E)
Years in Maricopa: 8
Occupation: Maricopa City Councilmember, director of advertising and small-business owner
Family: I am married with 3 beautiful daughters.
Political background: Current Maricopa City Councilmember and district chairman for the Pinal County Republican Committee. Campaigned for many candidates throughout the state.
Previous community service: Numerous nonprofits, including the City of Maricopa itself. Volunteered with Babe Ruth League, Little League, Maricopa Pantry, Maricopa Food Bank, The Streets Don’t Love You Back, Maricopa High School Football Boosters, Maricopa High School Baseball and Softball Boosters, Relay for Life, Maricopa Board of Adjustment, Maricopa Zoning code re-write taskforce and more.

What is the one thing you would like to change about Maricopa as a councilmember and why? I have worked to make many changes, but perhaps the one that has evaded me is the ability to make Maricopa a city of YES. We have made strides to get there, but we have not quite achieved the goal of being a city that says YES when approached by developers. To clarify, I want us to never say “No, we can’t do that,” but instead say “Yes, we can, and this is how.” Together we can make Maricopa a destination for development of residential, retail and industrial.

Qualifications? Before I ran four years ago I served on two city boards and commissions, attended two years of council meetings and worked with our mayor and staff on various issues. Since being elected in 2014 I have nearly perfect attendance at meetings, and have networked with other elected officials throughout the state while serving on various boards.

Proudest achievement? As a councilmember I would say it is a toss-up between keeping our budgets balanced and working with the mayor, council and staff to facilitate the start of the SR 347 Overpass. On a personal level, my proudest achievement is working together with my wife to raise three daughters who make us proud every day.

On what aspect of city government are you least knowledgeable? This is a hard question to answer as an incumbent councilmember. We must be knowledgeable in all aspects of city government. One aspect where I could use improvement would be Human Resources, as council does not normally weigh in on HR issues.

Vincent Manfredi is a minority owner of InMaricopa.


 

Bob Marsh

Bob Marsh

Age: 74
Hometown: Poultney, Vermont
Years in Maricopa: 7.5
Occupation: IT industry consultant, former electrical engineer, software engineer, systems engineer, and project manager, former human resources manager, compensation manager, and community development manager
Family: My wife, Cynthia, 2 children and their spouses, wife’s 3 children and their spouses, children, and grandchildren
Political background: Ran for Maricopa Flood Control District Board (lost by 3 votes)
Previous community service: City of Maricopa Planning & Zoning Commission, Board of Adjustment, Zoning Code Rewrite Task Force, Subdivision Ordinance Rewrite Citizens Committee, Vision 2040 Citizens Committee, General Plan Update Committee, vice president of Arizona Industrial Compensation Association, board member of International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners – Arizona Chapter, treasurer of Maricopa Multi Cultural Consortium.

What is the one thing you would like to change about Maricopa as a councilmember and why? While transportation, flood prevention, employment, health services and housing are rightfully top of mind in Maricopa, I would like City Council also to prioritize the development and distribution of senior services in our city. We are about the only city in Arizona that doesn’t have a senior center, and we are currently missing out on many senior benefits because we have no place for those programs to land and no one to administer them. I think the city is missing out on a great opportunity to raise the quality of life for our seniors.

Qualifications? I’m an engineer with experience and proven skills in problem solving. With over 25 years in Arizona, I understand the state’s resources and issues. At Microsoft, I worked in Community Development, where I created programs that grew Microsoft’s worldwide services community from 30,000 to now more than 17 million people.

Proudest achievement? Personal: My two grown children. My daughter has a master’s degree in library science and works in a university library in Texas. My son is a software engineer at a major consulting company in Washington state. Professional: Having computer equipment I designed and built used by NASA on the lunar landings.

On what aspect of city government are you least knowledgeable? I don’t have experience in playing politics. I’ve always worked on boards, teams, commissions and committees to build consensus and to get things done by working as a team player in group efforts. I feel that’s the way an effective city council should work.



Cynthia Morgan

Cynthia Morgan

Age: 60+
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Years in Maricopa: 11
Occupation: “MURDER IN…” Mystery Dinner Theatre and events.
Family: Husband Lindy Tidwell, 2 daughters, 3 stepdaughters, 9 grandchildren: 2 attended Maricopa H.S. and 1 Butterfield Elementary.
Political background/previous campaigns: In California 1973-74: worked at Democratic Campaign Headquarters on Jerry Brown Campaign for governor and Robert Mendelson for Controller. Switched parties and worked on Pete Wilson campaign for governor. In Arizona, worked with Sen. Barbara Leff and the Arizona Film Commission on authoring the tax bill to attract more film business to Arizona. Helped with numerous local and state campaigns, from Anthony Smith to Doug Ducey.
Previous community service: I’ve been committed to service to my community since a teen when I spent almost every weekend and my entire summer breaks as a “Candy Striper” at Indiana State Hospital (we were called Pinafore Girls), Lions Club, Rotary Club, Soroptimist Club, Copa Film Fest, Seeds of Change, F.O.R. Maricopa food bank, numerous chambers of commerce, including volunteer positions with Maricopa Chamber. Started the first Miss Maricopa Pageant here in 2011. Founded the “Stop Global Water Coalition” and helped organize the first time we got GW in front of the Corporation Commission.

What is the one thing you would like to change about Maricopa as a councilmember and why? Council’s refusal to work with its own Chamber of Commerce is NOT in the best interest of the community.

Qualifications? Passion. Love for community. Lifetime of hard work and long hours. I’ve always worked well with others. I am in touch with and communicate very well with the people, my fellow taxpayers and citizens. I listen to ALL opinions and points of view to make an informed decision.

Proudest achievement? A tie: 1) The P.A.T.H. program: “Training and placement of Actors with Disabilities, Women and Minorities to create Diversity and Equality on Stage & Film” because it changed the industry. 2) The 3 biological grandchildren of my late husband. We raised them, as his daughter was a drug addict criminal who abandoned them, & instead of excuses and playing victims to justify bad behavior, they took the alternate path. No drugs or bad behavior, instead were honor students. Of the 2 oldest who attended Maricopa H.S., one graduated NAU with Honors and is a counselor at Southwest Mental Health; the second just graduated ASU Magna Cum Laude and has already taken a job at EXXON Corporate, in Houston, and the youngest is a straight A High School Junior, and plays Varsity Football. I like to think that is because of the values we instilled in them against the bad hand they were dealt.

On what aspect of city government are you least knowledgeable? Crunching numbers! UGH!!!

This is a corrected version of an item previously appearing in print.


 

Paige Richie

Paige Richie (submitted photo)

Age: 20
Hometown: Mesa, Arizona
Years in Maricopa: 8
Occupation: Student
Family: I am the youngest girl of 6 children to Janine and Thomas Richie, both active members of the community who value growth and development of our youth. My mother is a teacher who has spent much of her career in Maricopa and my father is an active member of Maricopa who has coached school teams and taught as a substitute.
Political background: This is my first campaign, but I am registered as an independent.
Previous community service: Assisted in planning and promotion of multiple fundraiser events for local schools. Participated as a mentor for youth for several years and directed a number of community events for students and local youth. Assisted teachers in building lesson plans, student projects and developing classroom environments. Organized and promoted a number of fundraising events for the community and local families. Devote time to reach youth and encourage civic engagement in our community.

What is the one thing you would like to change about Maricopa as a councilmember and why? I’d like to work on Maricopa’s environmental impact and sustainability. With the effort our city has made to prevent light pollution, I feel as though we have expressed a value in our role in the environment, and I would like to further pursue that value and help our city to lessen our environmental impact. Furthermore, by looking into environmentally friendly options, this may open new pathways for economic stimulation in the form of jobs and growth for Maricopa.

Qualifications? I have extensive knowledge and experience of working with the Arizona community and their state programs through working with the Department of Economic Security. This experience is furthered by my political science major at ASU, giving me the tools and knowledge to apply justice and sustainability to my community.

Proudest achievement? I am most proud of my education. Coming from a family where a college education hasn’t always been an option, I am proud that I am actively a senior at Arizona State University.

On what aspect of city government are you least knowledgeable? Zoning regulations and how they are applied in order to make our city as efficient as possible.



Rich Vitiello

Rich Vitiello (submitted photo)

Age: 53
Hometown: New York City, New York
Years in Maricopa: 13
Occupation: Sales
Family: Wife Joann, 4 daughters, 8 grandkids
Political background: Previously campaigned for Maricopa City Council and Pinal County Board of Supervisors
Previous community service: Volunteer with Maricopa Police Dept.; Food Bank; 2040 Vision Committee; City Board of Adjustments; MUSD J.V. softball coach; fundraisers for Maricopa residents in hardship; donations of bicycles to fire and police depts.; umpire at the American Legion Annual Softball Game; graduated from Maricopa Leadership Academy.

What is the one thing you would like to change about Maricopa as a councilmember and why? Maricopa needs more local, high-paying jobs. I look forward to using my 27 years of business experience to work with the economic development dept. And attending educational and trade meetings and conferences to bring more business opportunities to our city to improve the quality of life.

Qualifications? Transparency, honesty and accountability are what made me successful. I have been actively engaged in city government issues and have participated first-hand in initiatives that have a direct impact on Maricopa’s development, growth and quality of life. I was endorsed by Fraternal Order of Police and Arizona Association of Firefighters.

Proudest achievement? Being a husband, father and grandfather. Family is the most important thing to me. My family is part of this community, and my dedication to my family and this community is steadfast.

On what aspect of city government are you least knowledgeable? One-third of Maricopa is in a flood zone, affecting city housing, transportation, growth and business development. I am learning more about how this issue may be resolved by sitting in on meetings with Flood District President Dan Frank and Mayor Christian Price. I look forward to learning more.


 

Henry Wade (incumbent)

Henry Wade (submitted photo)

Age: 63
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Years in Maricopa: 10
Occupation: Director of Housing Counseling Services, Chicanos Por La Causa, Inc., City Councilmember, City of Maricopa
Family: Gayle Randolph, Jeremiha Ballard and Jovan Wade
Political background: Member of Maricopa City Council since 2014, campaigned for County Supervisor 2012
Previous community service: Planning & Zoning Commission (2 years as Vice-Chair), Chair – Pinal County Democratic Party, Affirmative Action Moderator Arizona Democratic Party, Vice Chair African-American Caucus Arizona Democratic Party. Numerous community task force and committees. Scout leader and 20 years active duty military (Air Force retired)

What is the one thing you would like to change about Maricopa as a councilmember and why?  I would love to change the access to our community. I think the most significant concern of most residents, including myself, is the extreme limitation of State Route 347. Not just because it is restricted to four lanes but that the entry and exit to feeder roads are dangerous and deadly. I am prayerful that through the efforts of the recently formed Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), we are steps closer to fixing a problem that has harmed many of our citizens and plagued us all enough.

Qualifications? I have hands-on job experience. My qualifications and experience comes from successfully serving the community on council diligently and faithfully for last 3+ years. Additionally, I serve as liaison or vice on Maricopa Unified School District #20, Planning and Zoning Commission, Cultural Awareness Advisory Committee and Youth Council.

Proudest achievement? Connecting the underserved community to city government, encouraging citizens to serve on Boards, Commissions and task forces along with participating in the Maricopa Leadership Academy (MCLA).  I am especially thrilled at the recent successful, youth conducted, Mock City Council meeting, as part of my Councilmember on the Corner outreach program.

On what aspect of city government are you least knowledgeable? If I have a limitation, it is in the Human Resources department. As a director of staff, I recognize that HR is a special department with many moving parts and aspects. I applaud the civil servants’ that manage those duties. It is an ever-changing landscape.


This article appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.

Rick Horst. Submitted photo

A finalist for the Maricopa city manager was awarded a three-year employment agreement Tuesday after city council voted to offer him the shorter-than-usual contract.

“[Maricopa] has a leakage of about $367 million where citizens are spending money in other communities, and my expertise is in how to reverse that.” — incoming City Manager Ricky Horst

Ricky Horst, the current city manager for Rocklin, California, will begin his contract in Maricopa on June 25 and receive $180,000 for the first year of the contract, paid in equal, bi-weekly installments. Each of the following two years he will have an opportunity to make even more, according to the stipulations of his contract.

“After the first year of this Agreement, the Employer may increase [Horst’s] salary as part of the City’s annual budget process [sic],” the contract states.

The three-year contract is shorter than usual for a reason, Mayor Christian Price said. It gives the city the option to revisit the contract in a few years to determine if things are working out, something which is harder to do with a five- or 10-year contract.

“I think everybody wants someone that is going to have buy-in,” Price said. “[But] there’s a flip side to that. What if you don’t like the individual? What if they’re not working out? What if things aren’t going so well?”

By keeping the contract shorter, Price said, it gives the city the ability to come back in a few years and assess the city manager’s performance.

In a phone interview Wednesday Horst said, he and his wife were elated to be coming to Maricopa, a city which dually shares his vision and could use his experience.

“[Maricopa] has a leakage of about $367 million where citizens are spending money in other communities, and my expertise is in how to reverse that,” Horst said. “So, then we can continue to provide for public safety, better infrastructure and quality of life amenities that will continue to make Maricopa the special place that it is.”

Horst went on to say Maricopa is offering him more than just a role in developing such a young city, and the city also fits the mold for a place he would like to call home.

“I’ve been at this for a while, and frankly I’ve had a lot of invites to go to a lot of cities to look at what they’re doing, but I have the right to be picky now,” Horst said Wednesday. “And I picked Maricopa both for career reasons and professional reasons, but also for personal reasons and quality-of-life reasons.”

A city Stakeholder Panel was convened to help in the city manager selection process. The nine-member group of residents, businesses owners and local organization leaders aided in the culling the original candidate selection down to two finalists – Horst and a former assistant to the Maricopa city manager, Nicole Lance.

The Stakeholder Panel consisted of Ioanna Morfessis, president and chief strategist of Io.Inc; AnnaMarie Knorr, Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board president; Dan Frank, president of Maricopa Flood Control District; Joe Hoover, owner of Legacy Montessori; John Stapleton, owner of CopaTV; Paul Shirk, president of Maricopa Historical Society; Linda Cheney, vice president of El Dorado Holdings; Glenda Kelly, board member of Maricopa Chamber of Commerce; and Mario Ortega, retired Maricopa Police officer.