Mayor, leaders look to what’s next for Gilbert in State of the Town address

Brigette Peterson
Mayor Brigette Peterson took some of Gilbert’s leaders on a victory lap and looked ahead to what is next in her State of the Town presentation March 24 at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts. (Screen capture from Gilbert Chamber of Commerce)

Mayor Brigette Peterson took some of Gilbert’s leaders on a victory lap and looked ahead to what is next in her State of the Town presentation March 24 at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts. (Screen capture from Gilbert Chamber of Commerce)

Mayor Brigette Peterson took some of Gilbert’s leaders on a victory lap and looked ahead to what’s next in her State of the Town presentation March 24 at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts.

In fact, the town used #whatsnextgilbert as the theme, and while Peterson abandoned the former Digital State of the Town video presentation used by former Mayor Jenn Daniels, she did not give a traditional speech, either. Instead, she gave a few introductory and closing remarks wrapped around a series of presentations from town leaders, some of which did include videos. The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce put on the event.

In particular, Peterson highlighted the town’s financial successes without having a primary property tax as most municipalities do.

“Our town also provides more services for the lowest cost than any city in the region,” she said. “It's often difficult to describe to people just how fiscally responsible and successful we are, but my dedication to efficiency today and to the future will not change.”

Leadership presentations


Retiring Fire Chief Jim Jobusch led off recounting the launch of the town’s ambulance service, which he said has done more calls than anticipated, has a 95% response rate within nine minutes and is on track to meet its financial goals. He also talked about the use of technology, including a drone and the possibility of robots in hazardous materials situations.

He noted that the 2023 will be the 100th anniversary of the Gilbert Fire Department, which he said he hoped would be celebrated after the town’s own centennial in 2020 was muted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assistant Police Chief Michael Angstead spoke the audience about the department’s first graduating class of police officers from the town’s own Public Safety Training Facility and the possibility of the department establishing a victim advocacy center, a new, larger dispatch center to replace the current one in the town’s Public Safety Building and its own crime lab.

Parks and Recreation Director Robert Carmona drew some positive audience response as he showed video highlights of the master plans for Gilbert Regional Park and Desert Sky Park, both of which opened in 2019 and have future expansions in the planning stages.

“We had a great few years, but we're looking forward to some exciting few years coming up,” Carmona said.

Town Manager Patrick Banger gave an overview of some the projects that will be paid for by the $515 million streets, transportation and infrastructure bond package passed by voters in November, highlighted by construction of the Ocotillo Bridge, completing Ocotillo Road between Greenfield and Higley roads and passing over a stretch of Gilbert Regional Park.

He also joked about the amount of road work that will be done in the next few years as the town heads to build-out in about 2030.

“If we do not have your road torn up by you, call me, I'll make sure that we get it torn up,” Banger said, eliciting laughter from the audience.

The last presenter was Chief Performance Officer Nikki McCarty, who spoke by video presentation about the town’s plans in fiber broadband infrastructure. She said the town is actively pursuing proposals for a third-party firm to help the town build out a fiber network to achieve its goal of bringing internet service to every resident and business.

The program also included video presentations from private developers of two high-profile projects on their plans. Those projects are Heritage Park, the mixed-use development planned for the Heritage District’s north anchor, running on the west side of Gilbert Road south of Juniper Avenue; and the Cactus Surf Park, the public-private partnership project at Gilbert Regional Park.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.