Mayor Jackie Meck, who shepherded Buckeye’s expansion from a farm town to “America’s fastest-growing city,” is about to preside over his last meeting.
After not running for reelection, his last Buckeye City Council meeting will be Nov. 17. A small ceremony will follow the meeting. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it will be limited to close friends and family members.
“It’s time for younger people to be the leaders of Buckeye,” Meck, 79, told the West Valley View last year.
Meck first became mayor in 1973. After a stint as a city councilman, he returned to the mayor’s office in 2008. Since, he has been a quiet leader as Buckeye boomed to become the country’s fastest-growing city.
He recalled the Buckeye of his youth.
“Buckeye was 1,200 people—that included every dog, chicken and cat in the city,” he said.
“We are today sitting at approximately 92,000 residents and growing,” Meck said.
He said he thinks Buckeye will top 100,000 next year—but that is just the beginning.
Buckeye “someday will be 1.5 million, 1.7 million people,” he predicted.
Meck credits his father, a justice of the peace, magistrate and coroner, with helping to set the tone for his no-nonsense attitude. He said his father had a tremendous work ethic and valued getting the job done.
“So anything and everything dealing with, you know, accidents and such. He was the man,” Meck recalled. “The irony of that, when I was on the council I was my dad’s boss because the council hired the judge and I was on the council when that happened.”
Meck will pass the gavel Nov. 17 to Eric Orsborn, who resigned from council to run for mayor and was unopposed in the August election.
“From the very beginning he’s been very generous with his time,” Orsborn said. “He’s been very helpful in helping me to understand the issues, and he comes from a very different perspective than I do.”
Orsborn said Meck helped create bonds in the community.
“He’s always been a friend and a mentor to me my entire time on council,” Orsborn said. “We think quite a bit alike and so it’s been helpful for him to bounce stuff off of me or vice versa so that I don’t get out over my ski tips.”
Councilwoman Michelle Hess described Meck as a champion of the people of Buckeye, where he worked diligently on behalf of its residents to make sure they felt included.
“I’ve learned so much from the mayor, not only about my own beloved city,” Hess said. “I think even as a council member, and as somebody that lives here, I just love that beauty here in Buckeye at being able to blend the history with forward thinking and embracing what is to come.”
Meck said the highlight of his career was the creation of Skyline Regional Park, an 8,000-acre mountain preserve in the southern White Tank Mountains.
“Three years ago when it was open, we had about 200,000 people (use the park). The next year we had 280,000 people. Last year, we had over 300,000 people come out and walk that park. So I think that that’s the biggest achievement,” he said.
Meck said development is continuing in Buckeye, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though he would like to see more employment opportunities, Meck feels he is passing on leadership of a city that has solid footing and a bright future.
“We’re trying to get jobs for our people because 90% of them go east (to work),” he said. But, he added, “Financially we’re in very good shape. We’re after development for commercial, industrial, medical—we’re trying to get those but we’re in good shape.”
He plans to “keep busy” and spend time with his family.
Annie DeChance, a Buckeye spokeswoman, said Meck’s presence at meetings and public events will be missed, as the city bids the best to its quiet, charismatic leader.
“He is one in a million,” DeChance said.