For all communities — here in Arizona and throughout the U.S. – quality education, community safety and job opportunities are mission-critical to building a vibrant and sustainable community.
Cities and towns are the places where people choose to raise their families, find gainful employment or operate a business, and contribute to the well-being of their communities. In my role as President of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, we recognize our role as a champion for our cities not only here in Arizona but with our state’s other spheres of influence.
In the City of Maricopa, we know one of our greatest assets is our people. Our more than 52,000 residents have chosen to live here because of our continued emphasis on providing a quality of life that is second to none.
In today’s world, being a local elected official is exciting. That was never more evident than during a recent League training of more than 100 newly elected municipal officials who have committed themselves to serve their communities selflessly and to strive to make their cities and towns safe, vibrant and welcoming.
To be the “CEO – Chief Elected Official” – charged with driving your community’s agenda forward to create sustainable economic vitality and ensure a high quality of life for the people you have been elected to represent, is not only invigorating but also a daunting yet hugely rewarding job.
At the heart of what locally elected officials do is to provide the kind of environment, investments and amenities to create a high quality of life and economic opportunities that people of all ages and backgrounds seek for themselves, their families and their employees.
And if quality of life is fundamental to building a vibrant community, what exactly defines quality of life?
I would argue that it dates back to ancient philosophers like the venerated Aristotle (384–322 BC) who wrote about “the good life” and “living well” and how good public policy can help to nurture it. Throughout the years, there have been many attempts to define it. But the truth is, quality of life is multi-faceted, complex and often totally contextual for each individual and for each individual community.
For Maricopa, quality of life is at the heart of our community’s vibrancy. So how do I define it? Clearly, by the thousands of our Maricopans who actively engage in our city’s strategic planning. And by the thousands who partake of our dozens of family-oriented events and programs like our Color Run, Salsa Festival, Merry Copa and dozens of equally fun, safe and exciting festivals and events.
But an excellent quality of life, to me, is more than actively engaging in civic life or enjoying a community’s amenities. It also means providing the environment for a successful business and economic investment. Quality of life begins with a paycheck or earnings opportunities, making the quality of life inextricably linked to economic development.
For the City of Maricopa’s economic development, just one example is our thriving cluster of agritech industries and research facilities, including state universities, federal research centers, and emerging companies utilizing intelligent crop science to produce clean technology products and biofuels.
Historically an agricultural community, Maricopa has emerged as a regional hotbed for the agritech industry. The USDA Arid Land Agricultural Research Center (ALARC) and the University of Arizona, Maricopa Agricultural Center (MAC) are two such operations. Researchers at these centers are working to develop new technologies and solutions to problems faced by crop consumers and producers, contributing to making our food supply safer. Partnerships with the private sector have led to the commercialization of innovative agricultural products and have helped launch a number of agritech startups.
Leaders in the renewable energy arena, such as Pinal Energy, also are drawn to Maricopa. In the automotive industry, Maricopa is helping to pave the way in vehicle research and development with both Volkswagen and Nissan locating their North American proving grounds in Maricopa. Not to mention the recently opened APEX Motor Club, the Valley’s first private automotive country club.
In addition to economic development, education always ranks at the top of the list when discussing quality of life. Maricopa is proud to be home to Central Arizona College’s Maricopa Campus and the Maricopa Unified School District, serving more than 7,200 students in Preschool through 12th grade, offering programming and extracurricular opportunities that encourage students to explore and discover their passions. Blended learning, STEAM opportunities, and online education opportunities are just a few programs that make MUSD stand out in our community.
And let’s not forget our world-class award-winning community amenities such as the Copper Sky Recreation Complex, featuring a Multigenerational Center and Regional Park, offering state-of-the-art recreation equipment, acres of green spaces and community programming designed to enhance Maricopa residents’ quality of life.
Maricopa is a growing community that continues to fulfill its mission of offering our residents and businesses the experience of a small-town feel coupled with tremendous quality of life that includes high-quality education, safe neighborhoods and abundant opportunities for success.
So how important is the quality of life for elected officials? I would venture to say that nothing is more important or mission-critical to community success and sustainability.