Gilbert Town Council to interview 8 for Eddie Cook’s vacated seat

Gilbert Town Council
Gilbert Town Council has a vacancy, and the council has narrowed the 105 applicants to eight candidates it will interview. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Town Council has a vacancy, and the council has narrowed the 105 applicants to eight candidates it will interview. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Gilbert Town Council narrowed the choices to replace Council Member Eddie Cook from 105 applicants to eight March 5 in a special council session.

The eight will be interviewed publicly March 17 after which council will decide who to appoint to fill Cook’s seat, which he resigned Feb. 18 to become Maricopa County assessor.

Original plans called for the council to narrow the field to six applicants plus two alternates. Two applicants were disqualified for failing to include a resume with their application, bringing the field to 103.

After emerging from executive session in which they considered their rankings of the field, Mayor Jenn Daniels said the council had decided to interview all eight.

The appointed candidate will finish this year on council, but the remaining two years of Cook’s term will be decided at the town elections this fall.

Three candidates are members of the Gilbert Planning Commission and one is on the citizens transportation task force.

The council opted not to interview three former council members who applied nor any of the people collecting signatures to run for town office this fall.

In alphabetical order, the candidates, with information from their applications, are:

  • Kathleen Dowler, director of community health for Dignity Health. She is a 26-year resident of the town. She wants to focus on strategic leadership for the town. She says she would like to experience council membership more than the nine months of this appointment before deciding whether to run.

  • Todd Jorgenson, the periodontist for the dental teams of the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks. He has lived in Gilbert for 17 years. He says he hopes to serve the town of Gilbert for as long as voters will have him.

  • Yung Koprowski, a civil and traffic engineer with her own firm, Y2K Engineering. She joined the Gilbert Citizens Transportation Task Force three months ago. She vows to make data-driven decisions to develop solutions. She will run if appointed.

  • Noah Mundt, chief operating officer of Nexus Integrated Solutions. He is a member of the planning commission and has served on other town boards in his 10 years living here. He wants to help the town manage its growth while it still offers exceptional community services. He would like to continue serving if appointed.

  • Scott September, a senior land use, real estate and construction program manager. He has lived here 15 years. He serves on the planning commission. He wants to preserve and improve the civic experience for residents. He will not run for Cook's seat but hopes to run in the future.

  • Amanda Shaffie, a life coach and furniture store owner. She is a 17-year resident of the town. She wants to advocate for the wholesome nature of Gilbert. She would consider serving longer than the appointment term.

  • Jan Simon, owner and president of Foundation Insurance Services. He is a planning commission member and serves on the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and Gilbert Leadership boards. The 16-year resident says he can look at issues with an open mind. He hopes to get a longer appointment.

  • Bill Spence, retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander. He has lived in Gilbert for 10 years. He hopes to help manage Gilbert's growth with a vision to maintain its small-town identity and big-city prosperity. He already has filed his Statement of Interest in running to finish Cook's term.

Two more resignations are anticipated next month when Council Members Brigette Peterson and Jordan Ray turn in nominating petitions for other offices for which they intend to run. Peterson is planning to run for mayor; Ray plans to run for justice of the peace in the Highland Justice Court.

As it stands, if those resignations materialize, council plans to fill those seats from the same candidate pool. However, some members have expressed concerns about making the replacements that way, so the issue is not firmly decided.

If that should happen, the appointed replacements for Peterson and Ray would serve out the remainder of their terms as their resignations would come too late to fill the seat on the Aug. 3 ballot.

Mayor’s race

The field to replace Daniels as mayor has grown by two more potential candidates this week.

Matthew Nielsen and Lynne King Smith filed their Statements of Interest and have begun collecting nominating petition signatures to get on the ballot.

Nielsen works in charter school support. King Smith owned ticketing platform TicketForce until recently.

The others collecting signatures for a run are Peterson, Gary Livacari and Sandra Reynolds.

Daniels announced Feb. 3 that she would not seek re-election.
By Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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