Gilbert voters guide for August town, primary elections

Here is candidate and voting information for the Aug. 4 town and primary election.

Dates to know

July 6: Voter registration deadline

July 8: Ballots mailed, in-person voting available

July 29: Last day to mail back ballot


Aug. 4: Primary, town election

Where to vote

Maricopa County voters can choose any voting location and time that works for them. Voters can visit https://locations.maricopa.vote to find a nearby location.

County voters can request a one-time ballot to be sent by mail to their residence or mailing address on file, or to a temporary mailing address for the Aug. 4 primary election and Nov. 3 general election at https://request.maricopa.vote. Voters may also sign up there for the permanent early voting list.

Town candidate Q&A

*—Incumbent

Mayor (vote for 1)

LYNNE KING SMITH

Occupation: business owner

Relevant experience: general manager, ETIX; founder/CEO, Ticketforce 2003-19; founder, Thrive Coworking for Women; principal, Gilbert Project (Bldg. 313); founder/partner, ilegal modern cocktail kitchen

https://lynnekingsmith.com

What makes you qualified for the role of mayor?

My 20-plus years of executive experience in Gilbert business and work on national corporate boards has uniquely prepared me for the role of Gilbert mayor. I have the relationships and knowledge to represent Gilbert—statewide, regionally and here in our community with our staff, council and most importantly, our residents. My family’s two decades living here have given me an appreciation for Gilbert’s history and sense of community, which will inform my perspectives as we work for a strong future for Gilbert.

What is your top priority or initiative for council to address?

We are not doing enough to support small businesses in Gilbert. As mayor I will ensure we do all we can to ensure they have every possible measure of support and the help needed to recover, build and grow, well into and past 2021. I guided my company through the 2008 recession, and what we are dealing with now will require us to adapt and be innovative in our thinking and approach to long term economic growth. I will bring the leadership necessary to see Gilbert through a strong recovery.

How do you plan to address growth in Gilbert?

We need to be innovative in supporting growth that meets the needs of current residents as well as the anticipated influx of new residents over the next decade. The very qualities that make Gilbert the community it is—open spaces, a high quality of services, strong infrastructure and a safe community—is what makes our community desirable. To maintain this level of service to our residents, we must work with innovative partners to ensure smart growth and expanded opportunities for all who want to live, work and play in Gilbert.

What has the town council done well and what could it do better?

The council historically has worked well with staff, and finding ways to support the work of staff, rather than trying to micromanage from the dais. However, the town council must improve its communications with our residents. Look, people are tired of politics as usual and that's why I'm running. I'm done with the jargon, the acronyms, and the veiled communications—all I want is for you to know what we're doing for you and where you can provide input so we can do better.

What kind of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for Gilbert?

Gilbert continues to grow exponentially, and with that comes increased demand on our existing infrastructure and a need for getting ahead to sustain growth. Our population is increasing, we are growing and attracting new businesses, and how we commute is changing. With growth we will see increased demand for mass transit, improved bike lanes, and a greater emphasis on pedestrian safety. As mayor, I will work with our departments to determine what the critical existing and future needs are for Gilbert, and look to national trends for how other communities are preparing for the future so we aren’t left behind.

During recent council budget discussions, council members have debated the question of whether setting the secondary property tax levy at $25.88 million represented a tax increase or whether the stable property tax rate of $0.99 per $100 in assessed valuation means there is not a true tax increase. Where do you stand on that question?

The question at hand is not being approached from the right direction, and how it is being communicated to the residents is confusing at best. The tax issue is the result of a voter-approved bond for a public safety training facility, and the tax is assessed for homeowners only, based on the assessed value of your home set by the Maricopa County assessor. If the value of the home increases or decreases, so does the amount of the tax levy. The tax rate has remained constant or decreased over the past five years.

MATT NIELSEN

Occupation: business executive

Relevant experience: I have never run for any political office.

http://votemattnielsen.com

What makes you qualified for the role of mayor?

I have started and run my own small businesses and worked in positions of responsibility in several industries, including legal, publishing, education, and construction. I understand budgets and operations from the perspectives of laborer, leader, and everything in between. I serve on nonprofit and corporate boards. I love our town and want to help keep Gilbert ‘Gilbert.’ I hold a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in negotiation and dispute resolution.

What is your top priority or initiative for council to address?

The top priority for the council should always be to operate within its proper limits while fulfilling its obligations to residents. The power to tax, a power the town holds, comes with a heavy responsibility to ensure that government doesn’t grow beyond its proper scope. As a rule of thumb, government should minimize taxes and regulations. Also, Gilbert is an attractive place to call home for so many because we have a reputation as a family-friendly town with low taxes. I will work to preserve this in Gilbert.

How do you plan to address growth in Gilbert?

The town council needs to be able to balance the needs and concerns of its residents with the rights of property owners—a primary concern of the founders of our country, and one that I share. Gilbert is quickly approaching build-out. I'm committed to fostering open dialogue on growth initiatives to ensure that all perspectives are heard before major decisions are made that significantly affect the lives of Gilbert residents.

What has the town council done well and what could it do better?

The council has historically done a good job of minimizing taxes and staying within its proper scope. I'm concerned that the unnecessary growth of town government over the past few years will continue. Gilbert is seriously considering measures that would increase the size of government—something that we all know is extremely difficult to undo. In times past, this kind of needless growth would never have made it onto the council's agenda. Unfortunately, we have, in the past few years, had too many council members who not only entertained such proposals, but voted to enact them. Every new position added to government must provide measurable benefits in excess of their cost to the residents of the Town. Unsurprisingly, this has rarely happened. I will work to make sure that each new proposed position undergoes a rigorous cost/benefit analysis prior to consideration by the Town Council.

What kind of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for Gilbert?

Traffic is a major concern for a lot of our residents. We need to make sure that our roads are adequate to relieve traffic on our busiest roadways. These kinds of improvements are very expensive, so a major priority for me will be to minimize expenses without sacrificing quality—something I've done often in my experience negotiating agreements in the private sector. Water and wastewater are always a concern, as well. Wastewater infrastructure will be an upcoming issue as improvements have been proposed that need proper consideration.

During recent council budget discussions, council members have debated the question of whether setting the secondary property tax levy at $25.88 million represented a tax increase or whether the stable property tax rate of $0.99 per $100 in assessed valuation means there is not a true tax increase. Where do you stand on that question?

Proponents of the proposed levy amount of $25.8 million have had to rely on wordplay to justify their explanation that this is not a "tax increase." The fact is that property owners will pay more on their next tax bill. That is a tax increase. Renters aren't exempt, either, because landlords pass on those costs in the form of rent increases. For our friends and neighbors on fixed incomes, and those who have been furloughed and laid off as a result of the pandemic, any increase in taxes is too much. Gilbert residents don't want "straight talk" or long explanations that are intended to cloud the truth. Simply put, Gilbert residents will pay more in taxes than they have in the past and to say anything different is deceitful. We deserve to know how the actions of elected leaders and town staff will affect our lives.

BRIGETTE PETERSON

Occupation: N/A

Relevant experience: Gilbert Town Council member, vice mayor, Gilbert Planning Commission member, vice chair, chair; Gilbert Leadership alumna, board member, chair; regional and local committees/boards.

www.votebrigettepeterson.com

What makes you qualified for the role of mayor?

During my time as a member of the Town Council, our town has experienced a tremendous amount of growth. As a member of the council, I helped make the right decisions that kept taxes low, while increasing the services that made Gilbert one of the most desirable places to live. As mayor, I will continue this track record of success. This has been my full-time job and I will continue that commitment as mayor.

What is your top priority or initiative for council to address?

2020 has seen many changes in our town, state and country. My top priority will be working with local business leaders to ensure a quick economic recovery and stability. As our town has grown, so have traffic levels. I remain committed to addressing growth and continuing to plan for the full build-out of our town and this will be one of my top priorities.

How do you plan to address growth in Gilbert?

When I moved to Gilbert in 1995 the build-out population was estimated at around 350,000. Due to the planning done over the past 25 years the build-out population is now estimated to be 330,000. Good planning has played a huge part in this and shows that we have had a focus on how best to address growth. We are quickly closing in on final build-out and we are seeing many infill type projects coming forward. Those projects need to be examined very closely and held to the highest standards.

What has the town council done well and what could it do better?

Gilbert is one of the most financially stable towns/cities in the United States. The town’s credit rating is in the top 50 out of over 19,000 cities and towns in the country. This has resulted in lower taxes for our residents and we will continue to shine in this area. I think we can do a better job explaining land use and zoning requests/changes to our residents. Gilbert is not finished growing, the majority of land is not owned by the town but by individuals/families, businesses or developers. They will eventually want to build or sell that land and have it developed

What kind of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for Gilbert?

I will advocate for a Vaughn Avenue extension to move traffic more freely through the Heritage District and technology driven traffic solutions used for the timing in intersections. Moving people/vehicles through our community is one of the top comments we receive at the town. Timing at intersections is vital to moving people and products to our homes and businesses. More traffic and slower movement through Gilbert is one of the biggest complaints I hear from residents as the population increases.

During recent council budget discussions, council members have debated the question of whether setting the secondary property tax levy at $25.88 million represented a tax increase or whether the stable property tax rate of $0.99 per $100 in assessed valuation means there is not a true tax increase. Where do you stand on that question?

Over the past 20 years, Gilbert voters have approved bonds for fire stations, public safety facilities, streets, parks and sewer lines. These bonds have payments due each year and are paid for by a secondary property tax. The town can ONLY collect what is needed to pay the bonds approved by voters. This year, $25.88 million was the amount due and that amount could be collected by leaving the tax rate ($0.99) the same as last year. I do not believe this represents a tax increase. Since 2015, tax rate has gone down from $1.15 to $0.99.

Four-Year Term Council Member (vote for 2)


SCOTT ANDERSON*

Occupation: Gilbert Town Council vice mayor

Relevant experience: 25 years Gilbert Planning Director and Parks Manager for Riparian Preserve.

www.scott4council.com

What makes you qualified for the role of council member?

I have served as either a staff or council member for about 30 years. My understanding of the processes, policies and function of local government is extensive. Over the next few years, experience will be needed as the council deals with the current economic crisis as well as social unrest. Historical perspective and visionary thinking will be necessary in the future and I believe I bring both to our decision-making.

What is your top priority or initiative for council to address?

We will need to address a weakened economy and the means to maintain our community as prosperous for all going into the future. This is why I believe our City of the Future initiative is more important now than ever. We will be measuring how Gilbert can continue with a strong economy, be prosperous for all and maintain an exceptional built environment. We will be sharing metrics with the community to show our progress on our goals as we progress toward build out.

How do you plan to address growth in Gilbert?

We are at a point where growth will slow on the fringe and infill parcels will begin to look more attractive. This will continue over the next 10-12 years as we approach build-out. Our responsibility will be to ensure that the final stages of growth will enhance or at least maintain our quality of life for all. Indicators such as jobs, affordability, redevelopment and traffic contained in our City of the Future initiative will measure our success as we mark the last years of substantial growth.

What has the town council done well and what could it do better?

The town has done a good job maintaining a balance of land uses while insisting on quality design standards. Residential uses have remained at about 70% of our land area, commercial/office 10%, industrial/business park 10%, and public lands at about 10%. This balance is important to avoid being a bedroom community to our neighbors. Many projects in the town, including the Heritage District, Agritopia, Morrison Ranch and Val Vista Lakes have been recognized for superior design and quality livable spaces. The town recognizes a need to address current and future transportation plans as residents rate this as an issue where we could do better. We hope to address this issue with a 2021 bond issue.

What kind of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for Gilbert?

Our infrastructure needs are outlined in our goal for an exceptional built environment in our City of the Future initiative. Our needs are in water, wastewater, traffic, parks, public facilities, IT infrastructure, recycling, and streets. We will use 39 metrics to measure our progress and share the results with everyone as we progress toward build-out.

During recent council budget discussions, council members have debated the question of whether setting the secondary property tax levy at $25.88 million represented a tax increase or whether the stable property tax rate of $0.99 per $100 in assessed valuation means there is not a true tax increase. Where do you stand on that question?

Given the formula used to calculate our property tax (Gilbert only collects a secondary tax to pay for voter approved bond debt), it may always have an increase unless home equity is further discounted or we reduce our debt by moving payments further into the future. Further discounting the equity in our homes by some artificial number, combined with a low tax rate, could reduce the overall payment, but it will take action by the state. Extending our debt into future years will have a negative effect on taxpayers as the debt will become more expensive because of interest.

TYLER HUDGINS

Occupation: small-business owner

Relevant experience: small-business owner, chairman of the Gilbert Redevelopment Commission for downtown Gilbert, General Plan Advisory Group Member for the 2020 General Plan Update

https://votehudgins.com

What makes you qualified for the role of council member?

This is my hometown, and I have had the privilege of being raised, going to school, working some of my first jobs, attending church, and starting my own small business right here in Gilbert. I have been very actively engaged in the town for the past 12 years. I started regularly attending town council meetings at just 17 years old to be an active participant in my community. Over the years, I have learned how the town works in various different capacities. This will provide me extensive knowledge going into serving my community. Additionally, I have been running my small business located in downtown Gilbert for seven years and will bring that valuable business perspective to our town council. While running my small business, I was appointed by the mayor and town council to serve on the Gilbert Redevelopment Commission for downtown Gilbert. I was soon asked to become chairman of the commission and faced an important milestone regarding the future of downtown. During my term as chairman, our commission had the responsibility of drafting and approving the 2018 10-Year Redevelopment Plan. This was an important milestone in the shaping of the Heritage District because we now had the benefit of understanding the amazing growth since the 2008 Redevelopment Plan. Lastly, I had the privilege of working on the Gilbert General Plan Update for 2020 that will be coming before voters this year.

What is your top priority or initiative for council to address?

My top priority is to increase economic development and bring more jobs to Gilbert. Many residents have to commute two hours each day to work. What would happen if they could commute within the town? What could they do with some of that two hours? Perhaps spending more time with family, friends, neighbors, and volunteering to list a few. They could also do more of their lunch meetings within the town and spend their tax money locally.

How do you plan to address growth in Gilbert?

Growth in Gilbert will require us to face many challenges. We will need to be ready to scale and meet the needs of residents from an infrastructure standpoint. Additionally, we will need to be proactive with older areas of the town to ensure they do not deteriorate. The Fiesta Mall area in Mesa used to be the "downtown Gilbert" of the day. Now? It's nothing. Mesa was not proactive to address the area concerns ahead of time as growth continued to move out east. Gilbert is landlocked and there is nowhere else to grow. We need to be thinking how we can maintain the quality of life that many residents expect from Gilbert.

What has the town council done well and what could it do better?

The town has done an incredible job keeping our community safe. This has made it one of the best places to raise a family. I value that as someone who grew up here and is starting a family. Gilbert could do better finding ways to interconnect our community. Culturally in the United States we tend to isolate ourselves from other people. This has increased even further with the rise of social media where we are connected online, but not as much in real life. I can see this when we hardly know our neighbors. I love what Joe Johnston has done in Agritopia, creating development that encourages community members to be around other people. We also have seen this kind of development in downtown Gilbert. When Postino and Joyride came in they revamped the original Gonzo's building to be open and inviting for community. The Gilbert Farmers Market has also been a great way to bring the community together. Call me idealistic, but I would love a community where all the neighbors knew each other and looked out for one another. What could that do for our town? Could we encourage that even more through policy, programs and development? I think we can.

What kind of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for Gilbert?

Our roadways are beginning to deteriorate and will need to be repaved. I have seen communities that have allowed this vital infrastructure to decline and the negative impacts it creates for residents.

During recent council budget discussions, council members have debated the question of whether setting the secondary property tax levy at $25.88 million represented a tax increase or whether the stable property tax rate of $0.99 per $100 in assessed valuation means there is not a true tax increase. Where do you stand on that question?

It is a tax increase. Fundamentally, a tax increase is when the government requires residents to pay more money. Additionally state law requires governments to list on their website when there is a proposed tax or fee increase. Currently this proposed measure is titled: "Notice of Proposed New or Increased Tax or Fee: Property Tax Levy for Fiscal Year 2020-21" I believe this tax increase was a missed opportunity for our leaders to support our community during difficult times by not proposing to lower taxes. I was pleased to see that the town of Queen Creek did this by recently voting unanimously to lower their secondary property tax rate.

BUS OBAYOMI

Occupation: digital consultant

Relevant experience: legislative aide; service on various community boards for youth and education; Gilbert Leadership alumnus.

https://voteobayomi.com

What makes you qualified for the role of council member?

I have worked as a legislative aide and served on various community boards for youth and education. I work as a project manager in technology company. I also was a member of Gilbert Leadership Class XXV.

What is your top priority or initiative for council to address?

My major initiative is building bridges within communities in Gilbert and holding our town council to be fiscally responsible. Develop initiatives that will provide further services to our seniors in Gilbert. I also plan to champion issues that involve youth advocacy and greater support for our schools (public schools, charter schools, and private schools).

How do you plan to address growth in Gilbert?

People move to Gilbert because it is safe and secured. We cannot hold people back from moving to Gilbert. My wife and I chose Gilbert because it is family-friendly and safe. We need to continue to make Gilbert a safe place for all families to live in and call home. We also have to continue to make Gilbert a welcoming place for families who love our town.

What has the town council done well and what could it do better?

During this COVID 19 period, our town council has taken some good measures to make sure that residents and businesses are protected. They have leveraged all communication platforms to make sure that residents are aware of the resources available to them. However, I do think the town needs to do more in engaging all communities in Gilbert. We also need to need to hold our council to be more fiscally responsible. During these people, our goal should be to reduce financial pressures on our residents and not increase it.

What kind of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for Gilbert?

We have some great parks in Gilbert. However, I do believe we can do more. Our parks represent more than just a playground. It is where residents meet each other and communities engage one another. We have to build parks with a purpose and not just for the sake of it. We can invest more in our arts and museums that would make these places major attractions in Gilbert.

During recent council budget discussions, council members have debated the question of whether setting the secondary property tax levy at $25.88 million represented a tax increase or whether the stable property tax rate of $0.99 per $100 in assessed valuation means there is not a true tax increase. Where do you stand on that question?

$25.88 million levies represented a tax increase. In simple economics, any increase in levy from the previous year is a tax increase. It is not that complicated. We do have to measure the opportunity cost of this property tax. The timing of the levy also places an undue burden on the residents of Gilbert. Many of our residents are going through challenging times economically. Our job as the council is to look for opportunities to reduce the undue burdens on our residents and not increase it.

KATHY TILQUE

Occupation: president/CEO, Gilbert Chamber of Commerce

Relevant experience: 32 years as an advocate for business

www.facebook.com/ktilque2020

What makes you qualified for the role of council member?

As a proven leader, I have served and been recognized at local, regional, and national boards/commissions as a thought-leader, business advocate, and implementer. I have served on dozens of Gilbert stakeholder groups developing standards, zoning, general plans, bonds, regulations, budgets, and tax policies. To council I will bring institutional knowledge, the ability to identify unintended consequences, and a steady, reasoned opinion on strategic investments for the future.

What is your top priority or initiative for council to address?

I support Gilbert’s “City of The Future” efforts and will make decisions that ensure our community is financially stable and vibrant at build-out and beyond. I will advocate for data-driven decisions to ensure Gilbert, unlike many other communities, is not forced to rebuild themselves after dramatic economic downturns. Under my watch, Gilbert will not leave us vulnerable to future catastrophes. Financial stability, well-considered use of tax dollars, and a pro-business environment will be top priorities for me.

How do you plan to address growth in Gilbert?

For the past two decades, I have been actively involved with Gilbert’s tremendous growth and will apply my years of experience to identify strategic investments in aging infrastructure and new technology to accommodate that growth. For example, a strong transportation plan will ensure moving residents, employees, goods and commerce throughout the community which, then, translates into valuable tax dollars for the town. A strong and successful business community will add to a strong tax base, and reduce the taxes paid by residents to ensure vital infrastructure is maintained and replaced in a timely manner.

What has the town council done well and what could it do better?

The town council has put into place the framework for top class services utilizing low tax rates and efficient use of those tax dollars. The town has received AAA bond recognitions proving their sound tax policies. The best way for council members to impact annual tax rates is to be influential during the budget preparation discussions, CIP priorities/allocation of funding sources, and asking for specific data from town staff in a timely manner. Eleventh-hour NO votes and attempts to rewrite the budget from the dais are counterproductive and do not provide transparency on the issue that the community deserves.

What kind of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for Gilbert?

First and foremost, Gilbert needs road construction and improvements to ease traffic congestion and movement across the community. Secondly, I will advocate for strategic planning and budgeting to maintain and replace aging infrastructure using the town’s recently-finalized inventory of all infrastructure and timing of those actions to choose priorities. Of particular concern for careful planning are the wastewater and water treatment plants which are nearing the 25-year old mark and tremendously expensive to replace. Finally, I support the investment in technology to upgrade traffic timing, along with expanding the lifespan and efficiency of other town infrastructure.

During recent council budget discussions, council members have debated the question of whether setting the secondary property tax levy at $25.88 million represented a tax increase or whether the stable property tax rate of $0.99 per $100 in assessed valuation means there is not a true tax increase. Where do you stand on that question?

Gilbert is a growing community which has, fortunately, been able to reward its property owners with increased valuations because of the popularity, maintenance and success of the town. Therefore, taxpayer’s costs increase based on their property’s increased value, not because of the tax rate. Simultaneously, Gilbert’s increased growth puts pressure on the need for additional infrastructure to support its businesses and residents. Gilbert’s tax liability is significantly less than other communities, because of the quality leadership and maintenance of our community. Any short shrift of tax income for Gilbert diminishes the very quality of life that taxpayers currently enjoy.

Two-Year Term Council Member (vote for 1)

LAURIN HENDRIX

Occupation: business owner/manager

Relevant experience: Arizona Legislature; Maricopa Community College Board trustee and president; boards and committees service of various charitable organizations; lifetime of self-employment.

https://votelaurinhendrix.com

What makes you qualified for the role of council member?

As an Arizona State Legislator, I participated in balancing the state budget. As a member of the Maricopa County Community College District board of trustees, I have participated in creating a balanced budget four times, several during recessionary periods and all significantly larger and more complex than the Gilbert budget. I have been a self-employed business owner most of my life. My fiscal experience in balancing large budgets combined with my experience as a Gilbert resident will be valuable to the Gilbert Town Council.

What is your top priority or initiative for council to address?

My top priority is to maintain the high quality of life that Gilbert residents enjoy today. This is something that all council members should strive for. We enjoy our clean parks, our tree-lined streets, a very low crime rate, our qualified and professional first responders, our beautiful downtown that attracts visitors, our modest traffic, our theaters, and our top quality hospitals. My top priority is to continue the great work of prior council members in a financially responsible way.

How do you plan to address growth in Gilbert?

Growth must be controlled and managed. The council must be sensitive to private property rights while balancing those rights with the best interest of the town. Gilbert has become a sought-after place to live. It is loved by its residents because the rate and type of growth has been carefully planned. We must continue to support the family values that our citizens have. Infrastructure needs to be a top concern so that facilities and funding are available to service new growth. This must be done with intentional planning for the future.

What has the town council done well and what could it do better?

Prior town councils have done a phenomenal job of creating a town that attracts families who want great schools and a safe environment for their children. Gilbert supports an active living environment for all ages that continues to thrive and grow. Gilbert is one of the most fiscally responsible towns/cities in Arizona as it operates on a modest per capita expenditure. I would encourage council members to spend time with Gilbert families in an effort to understand their needs in a changing environment.

What kind of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for Gilbert?

Gilbert is a beautiful community but one thing that we can improve is greater availability of high-paying jobs and businesses that generate larger sales taxes. As we plan infrastructure, we need to support these businesses—making them accessible and safe. We particularly need to attract businesses that will support our families.

During recent council budget discussions, council members have debated the question of whether setting the secondary property tax levy at $25.88 million represented a tax increase or whether the stable property tax rate of $0.99 per $100 in assessed valuation means there is not a true tax increase. Where do you stand on that question?

There isn't any question that the increased levy is a tax increase. If you paid more property taxes this year than you did last year on the same property, then you experienced a tax increase. This is a political smoke-and-mirrors question. The real question is: Are you happy with the manner in which the council chose to spend your tax money and do you want to give them permission to spend more of your money? If you believe that the council is better able to spend your money than you are, support tax increases. If you believe that you would realize a greater benefit from spending your own money, then support lower taxes.

BILL SPENCE*

Occupation: retired U.S. Navy nuclear engineering officer

Relevant experience: council member

www.bill4gilbert.com

What makes you qualified for the role of council member?

Relatability, compassion for people, and integrity are some qualities that make me stand out. My 24 years as a Navy officer and my background in nuclear power operation and maintenance gives me an advantage in leadership skills and technical knowledge. However, I am just someone who grew up in Tempe, served my country, and retired in Gilbert. I don’t have a big-money campaign machine, but I do have a good pair of shoes and a listening ear that allows for me to meet with the residents of Gilbert and be their voice.

What is your top priority or initiative for council to address?

Strategic development and maintenance of infrastructure that encourages robust economic growth and increased revenues for small and large businesses is vital to Gilbert’s long-term sustainability. We must also employ innovative solutions in cost effective ways to complete build-out while maintaining our small-town character. Additionally, I believe that it is important to make Arizona attractive to veterans. It’s time that we bring them home, recognize them, employ them, and embrace the unique set of skills that they bring to our town.

How do you plan to address growth in Gilbert?

As a third generation Arizona native, I understand the successes and failures of growth throughout the Valley. As a council member, I have a strong reputation for working closely with residents, staff, and developers to derive win-win-win solutions so that all parties can benefit. Communication is key—even though it is often difficult and time consuming. Maintaining Gilbert’s “small town” feel while enjoying big city economic prosperity is vital and must be considered with every decision. After all, we are the biggest “small town” in the country and we must hold on to our charm and values.

What has the town council done well and what could it do better?

We are transparent, we listen, and communicate well, however there is always room improvement. In certain instances, philosophical beliefs may drive decisions rather than following the actual desires of the majority of citizens. Continuing to increase the information available will create a more informed public and ultimately lead to better execution of the will of the voters. I have had a great deal of success by surrounding myself with smart people and empowering them with a voice. Gilbert voters are intelligent and deserving of the opportunity to evaluate for themselves and provide their input to their elected officials.

What kind of infrastructure improvements would you advocate for Gilbert?

Water and roadways are of the utmost importance to our quality of life and economic vitality. As council member, I have worked to ensure a vision that spans the next 80-100 years. We don’t know what the future holds for Gilbert, but we can build smartly today so that we are ready for anything. We should build in ways that allow for modifications to be made to accommodate future innovations and technology rather than the costly “knock down and rebuild” strategy that we have seen elsewhere. Roads should be built one time with futureproof elements already in place.

During recent council budget discussions, council members have debated the question of whether setting the secondary property tax levy at $25.88 million represented a tax increase or whether the stable property tax rate of $0.99 per $100 in assessed valuation means there is not a true tax increase. Where do you stand on that question?

There are a few key points that are often misunderstood. Gilbert has the lowest combined tax rate of any city in the region. Gilbert does not have a primary property tax. Nearly all town services are funded by sales tax. Secondary property tax is highly restricted and can only be levied by voter approved initiatives and all collections can only go to voter approved debt. Changes in the amount of the voter approved tax levy leads to early payoff off of debt. This has resulted in over $60 million of early debt retirement and interest avoidance.

Town voters also will decide whether to approve Proposition 430, the adoption of the 2020 General Plan. Go to www.gilbertaz.gov/generalplan for more information.

Primary election candidates

U.S. Senate

Republican Party


Martha McSally*

Daniel "Demand Daniel" McCarthy

Democratic Party

Mark Kelly

U.S. Representative in Congress

District 5


Republican Party

Andy Biggs*

Democratic Party

Javier Ramos

Joan Greene

Jon Ireland

State Senator

District 12


Republican Party

Warren Petersen

Democratic Party

Lynsey Robinson

District 17

Republican Party

J.D. Mesnard*

Democratic Party

Ajlan "A.J." Kurdoglu

State Representative

District 12

Republican Party

State Representative

Jake Hoffman

Travis Grantham*

District 17

Republican Party


Liz Harris

Jeff Weninger*

Democratic Party

Jennifer Pawlik*

Corporation Commissioner

(Vote for 3)


Republican Party

Eric Sloan

Lea Marquez Peterson*

Democratic Party

William "Bill" Mundell

Shea Stanfield

Anna Tovar

County Board of Supervisors District 1

Republican Party

Jack W. Sellers*

Democratic Party

Jevin D. Hodge

County Board of Supervisors District 2

Republican Party

Steve Chucri*

Democratic Party

Deedra Abboud

County Assessor

Republican Party

Rodney Glassman

Eddie Cook*

Democratic Party

Aaron Connor

County Attorney

Republican Party

Allister Adel*

Democratic Party

Julie Gunnigle

Will Knight

Bob McWhirter

County Recorder

Republican Party

Clair Van Steenwyk

Stephen I. Richer

Democratic Party

Adrian P. Fontes*

County School Superintendent

Republican Party

Steve Watson*

Democratic Party

Jeanne M. Casteen

County Sheriff

Republican Party

Joe Arpaio

Mike Crawford

Jerry Sheridan

Democratic Party

Paul Penzone*

County Treasurer

Republican Party

Royce T. Flora*

John Allen

Democratic Party

Daniel L. Toporek

Highland Justice District

Justice of the Peace

Republican Party


Jordan Ray

Ken Sampson

Aaron C. Burroughs

Gregory Kelly

Constable

Republican Party

Luke Thomas Palmer

San Tan Justice District

Justice of the Peace


Republican Party

Sam Goodman*

Warde V. Nichols

Constable

Republican Party


Stephen Allen*

Warren Solomon
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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Co-owner Chris Glass and Chef Eric Emlet found a nice, high-traffic spot and a concept—fresh, steam kettle-cooked seafood—and for six years have made a good go of it

The First Street Foundation's dataset includes a forecast models that anticipate the effects of climate change and sea level rise. (Screenshot via First Street Foundation)
Analysis: FEMA may be undercounting national total flood risk by as much as 70%

The new dataset includes an interactive Flood Factor dashboard that anyone can use to assess the risk of flooding over a 30-year period for any address.

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments. (Source: Matt Frankel/Community Impact Newspaper)
'Refinancing isn't free:' How to navigate refinancing a mortgage

When interest rates are low, homeowners may look to save money by refinancing, which means getting a new mortgage with a better term or interest rate to lower payments.

Houston-based Christian Brothers Automotive operates more than 200 locations across the United States. (Courtesy Christian Brothers Automotive)
Q&A: Christian Brothers Automotive CEO talks commercial real estate, essential business operations amid pandemic

The Houston-based automotive company has franchise locations throughout Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and Arizona.

Christian Brothers Automotive shop to open at Mesa Gateway

A new Mesa Gateway location for Christian Brothers Automotive Care is expected to open July 27 on the Gilbert border.

coronavirus, economy
City tax manager: Gilbert sales tax collections 'higher than we could have hoped for' in May

Gilbert’s sales tax collections for May approached $8 million, putting the town less than $1 million away from its budgeted total for 2019-20 with a month to go in the fiscal year.

In communities across the nation, Walmart Supercenter parking lots will be transformed into contact-free, drive-in movie theaters beginning in August. (Courtesy Walmart)
Walmart to bring drive-in movies to 160 stores nationwide in August, launch virtual summer camp

Families can also enjoy a virtual summer camp experience Walmart is launching July 8 with sessions led by celebrities, including Drew Barrymore, Neil Patrick Harris and LeBron James.

Higley USD
Higley USD governing board approves online curriculum purchase

The Higley USD governing board approved on July 1 the purchase of online curriculum students will use in the coming school year

School will start Aug. 5 as Chandler USD officials planned, but all students will be required to begin classes online, according to Superintendent Camille Casteel. (Community Impact staff)
Chandler USD to start school year online Aug. 5 for all students; parents given option of in-person transition when schools reopen

School will start Aug. 5 as Chandler USD officials planned, but all students will be required to begin classes online, according to Superintendent Camille Casteel.

Gilbert Public Schools
Gilbert Public Schools board approves Aug. 5 online start with eventual three-option plan

Gilbert Public Schools plans to return to school online Aug. 5 but will shift to families having three options for learning once in-person school is allowed to resume.

Gilbert Public Schools
Here are the details for Gilbert Public Schools' reopening plan

Gilbert Public Schools plans to return for fall with three options for parents: in person, online or a “flex” model that includes both forms.

Gilbert Water Tower
Gilbert cancels Fourth of July celebration, modifies other operations

The Gilbert Parks and Recreation Department has canceled its Fourth of July celebration and announced modifications to parks and pools operations in light of Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order June 29 pausing openings and large gatherings