Along with Peterson, former Mayor Scott Anderson was sworn back in to council, as well as Council Member Kathy Tilque. Council re-elected Yung Koprowski as vice mayor for the year.
A tearful Peterson expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve the town again and thanked “Team Gilbert” for seeing the town through a difficult 2020.
“Gilbert is the size of a city with the heart of a town,” she said.
If the main turbulence of 2020 was the coronavirus pandemic, Gilbert Town Council had its own rough year with turnover.
In a matter of weeks last spring, former Mayor Jenn Daniels said she would not seek re-election, and council members Eddie Cook, Peterson and Jordan Ray resigned to fill or seek other offices.
The council members were replaced with appointments for Bill Spence, Scott September and Koprowski.
Because of the timing of Cook’s resignation in February, that remainder of his term was up for election, with Laurin Hendrix defeating Spence in August.
At that time, Anderson won re-election and Tilque, who had just retired as President and CEO of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce, won the seat being vacated by Jared Taylor, who also decided not to run again.
Shortly thereafter, Daniels resigned her mayoral seat. Council appointed Anderson to fill her term and Tilque to take up Anderson’s seat until January.
Council had appointed Spence in March to replace Cook through Jan. 12, but after Hendrix won the election, he sued the town and Spence for immediate seating, saying state law preferred elected to appointed officials.
In the end, Maricopa County Judge Daniel Kiley ruled that Hendrix was entitled to the seat at the time of the general election, but that Spence was not a usurper of the seat.
Anderson resumed service on council, but his time as mayor took him to the highest level in town after working on staff since he moved to Gilbert in 1988. He retired in 2012. He previously served as the town’s parks director and planning and zoning director, and he also helped establish the town’s Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, a wastewater treatment site.
Anderson was first elected to council in 2016.
“We’re always being recognized as a small town, even though we are 250,000 people strong,” Anderson said. “It's because we all have that attitude that we serve one another and we help one another in every way that we can.”
Anderson said he would strive in this term to seek unity during the pandemic and a time of civil unrest.
Tilque headed the chamber for 24 years and retired July 1. She said she would be laser-focused on providing sound solutions for the town.
In her remarks, she also called for unity and strongly condemned the violence that has erupted in the nation and in Gilbert.
“I celebrate the ever-changing diversity of the way we look, the way we speak and the way we believe throughout the community,” she said. “And I will work tirelessly to ensure that we all feel accepted and included whenever I can. But know that I will not tolerate disrespect, threats, breaking the law or violence. It's where I draw the line in the sand.”