Kathy Tilque | Age: 60 | Years in Gilbert: 16 | Occupation: President/CEO Gilbert Chamber of Commerce (until June 30th, then retired) | Education: Central Texas College (Business Management), US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management (IOM accreditation), American Chambers of Commerce Executives Certified Chamber Executive (CCE accreditation). | Immediate family: Husband, 2 sons, 1 daughter, 2 daughters-in-lawm 4 grandchildren. | Community/civic involvement: Gilbert Sister Cities (founding member and past Board member) Positive Paths (founding member, past chair and board member) Water Tower Park Redevelopment Committee (founding member and leader) Dignity Health Community Board (member – 10 years) Gilbert General Plan Steering Committee (member, past three General Plans) Town of Gilbert Stakeholder (member – Land Development Code, Building Codes, Budget, System Development Fees, Design Guidelines, Bonds, Taxes) HD South Steering Committee (member – future of Gilbert Historic Museum) ACCE (member – Board, CCE committee) US Chamber of Commerce (member – IOM Board, Chair; Board of Trustees) Arizona Chamber Executives Association (member – Board, Chair, Conference chair, founder of weekly state-wide legislative calls, regular conference presenter) Wester Association of Chamber Executives (member – Board, Executive Committee, Conference Chair, regular conference presenter)
1. What skills set you apart from the other candidates?
I have served and been recognized on local, regional, and national boards/commissions as a thought-leader, business advocate, and implementer. I have served on dozens of Gilbert stakeholder groups determining standards, zoning, general plans, bonds, regulations, budgets, and tax policies. I bring institutional knowledge, the ability to identify unintended consequences, and a steady, reasoned opinion on strategic investments for the future.
2. Name your top three priorities:
Financial stability, well-considered use of tax dollars, and pro-business environment. I will champion “City of The Future” efforts, make decisions ensuring our community is financially stable and vibrant at build out/beyond through data-driven decisions, not falling into the trap like other cities having to rebuild themselves after dramatic economic catastrophes and after taking their eye off the ball.
3. Should the economic fallout of COVID-19 worsen for town finances, what measures would you recommend to avoid cuts/disruptions in services?
Initial revenue reports indicate minimal reduction in sales tax, which is a testament to residents supporting Gilbert businesses during COVID-19. Thank you! Cost cutting measures such as renegotiating contract expenses, innovating services through virtual options like building inspections, staggering of hours, reducing vehicle trips saving fuel, liability, and time costs are just a few measures I’d recommend.
4. Should Cactus Yards be sold to a private operator? Why or why not?
Through investing tourism dollars and expanding youth/adult activities at Cactus Yards, the need for additional fields in Gilbert was significantly reduced. Selling to a private operator could reduce Town programs, increasing the need for additional fields at taxpayers’ expense. I’d need more data to identify break-even options and the benefits from a sale. Therefore, my answer is no, not yet.
5. What should the town do with recycling since it no longer generates revenue?
Recycling and bulk trash pickup continue as top priorities the community desires. The Town is evaluating minimal rate increases to fund these services through its enterprise accounts and I am supportive of this effort to meet residents’ desires. Enterprise revenues can only be used for those services so taxpayers can be assured it is not going towards other Town expenses.
6. What is your assessment of the relationship between Gilbert Police and the community and what changes, if any, would you advocate?
I’m proud to have served on the Police Chief’s Community Advisory Group for many years. Together with the representatives of NAACP, members of the Hispanic community, school representatives, and others we have evaluated protocols, training, and recruitment efforts to improve community relationships. First, we must listen. I understand our Town’s efforts–I look forward to others learning them as well.
7. The town’s updated general plan goes to voters in August, do you support the update? Why or why not?
I’ve served on the General Plan Steering Committee for the past three planning periods and I support passage of this plan in August. This General Plan included much more community input and was improved to best illustrate the Town’s vision for growth with searchable information regarding critical decisions for economic opportunities, circulation, traffic, parks, and culture. Vote Yes!
8. Do you think the town’s “City of the Future Initiative” does enough to ensure Gilbert continues to thrive well into the future?
“City of the Future Initiative” is a great foundation to identify components for data-driven decisions. However, it is not everything we need; our community is unique and must continue to embrace thorough reviews of services and innovation to thrive well into the future. Expert counsel and community input will be important as we move towards buildout.
9. Name three things you would fix or improve with town government.
I’m not fond of the current application process used to select members for stakeholders’ groups and believe this can be improved to better involve those who want to serve. Finding an efficient way to relay budget discussions eliminating eleventh hour criticism. Community forums addressing timely issues, opportunities to listen and find solutions together using in-person, technology, and virtual options.
10. Name three things the town does right.
Staff presentations at Town Council meetings are consistent and concise providing a solid foundation for discussions with detailed backup documentation available. They evaluate options to improve efficiencies for best of class services using technology/innovation, saving taxpayer dollars and time. They support strategic investment in public safety resulting in Gilbert’s #2 ranking as the safest community in our nation.
Tilque: My 3-fold vision for Gilbert and how to achieve it
By Kathy Tilque
My vision for Gilbert is threefold: to be financially prepared to address the long-term maintenance of our community as new development slows, to have a vibrant and robust business community that provides jobs for our residents and to be the safest community in the nation providing an environment of inclusiveness, community involvement, and kindness for all.
The inevitable reduction of growth-related revenues resulting from COVID-19 makes decisions of today even more important. It is important to utilize the data captured by the Town in their infrastructure inventory that outlines replacement and maintenance schedules in order to make sound decisions. This information helps us set priorities that allow us to absorb financial responsibilities so we can prevent an increase of our tax rates.
Gilbert must continue to pay down our bonds as quickly as possible saving millions of dollars in interest for Gilbert citizens. I am committed to completing the priorities outlined in the streets’ Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) while investing in technology to move traffic efficiently, which has time and again been noted as a top priority by our residents in the Town’s annual survey.
During this economic downturn, a business-friendly environment is more important than ever. As a Chamber of Commerce Executive, I’ve advocated for more than 24-years for reasonable regulations, low taxes, and what I consider “locally-minded” support of small businesses.
And I will continue that charge as your councilmember. We must help small businesses flourish and attract large businesses to provide quality jobs and services within our community. As with many families in Gilbert, I have children and grandchildren here. And, I want them to have all the opportunities available to achieve their careers close to home.
I want to reduce the time parents must spend in their cars each day as they travel to their jobs and back, not just by the transportation improvements we can make, but also by recruiting those jobs here in Gilbert. Other than public safety regulations, we must get out of the way of businesses ability to run their companies and prosper.
Finally, my vision for Gilbert is for us all to continue to appreciate the kindness and community-spirit we feel today. Let’s make sure we come together as one – a community that watches out for our neighbors, works together to solve community issues, and while acknowledging our differences we celebrate our similarities.
I want our community to be the safest in the nation through community involvement and strong support of our public safety personnel.
I’ll know we have achieved this vision when our grandchildren choose to raise their families and start businesses in our town because it is the best place to do so.