Candidates running for Town Council can get a leg up in the race by seeking an early endorsement from Gilbert Chamber of Commerce now instead of waiting until next year to go through the formal evaluation process.
The announcement comes as the town looks to fill the mayor and two council seats in 2020. The primary is Aug. 4 and the general election is Nov. 3. The early endorsement is open to anyone running for a local office.
“The Chamber’s endorsement is significant to its more than 800 member businesses who represent a large segment of the voting population in the Town of Gilbert,” said Matt Streeper, Chamber board chairman.
In order to be considered for early endorsement at any time, new and incumbent candidates must meet certain criteria.
New candidates must have a track record of understanding business issues, be an active Gilbert Chamber member for at least three years, be engaged in various civic, government or other organizations and have worked with the Chamber’s public policy committee for a minimum of three years.
For incumbents, they must be running for the same office they currently hold, have received an endorsement from the Chamber for the previous cycle he or she was elected, maintained a high-vote score or applicable ranking with the Chamber and show a history of active engagement with the Chamber and support for the Chamber on key issues.
Candidates must meet all of the requirements for consideration of an early stamp of approval from the Chamber, according to Streeper.
Once the request is made, the public policy committee will evaluate the candidate’s credentials and may then recommend an endorsement to the Chamber Board. If an endorsement is awarded, the Chamber will publicly endorse the candidate before the formal endorsement process for the other open seats.
Candidates who don’t meet the criteria or choose to participate in the regular process can do so after turning in their Statement of Interest and completing the required state paperwork for candidates, according to the Chamber.
The nomination paperwork can be filed no earlier than March 9 and no later than April 6 for the primary to be considered an official candidate, according to Town Clerk Lisa Maxwell.
As of last week, town Redevelopment Committee Chairman Tyler Hudgins, incumbent Councilman Scott Anderson and Busola Obayomi have filed a Statement of Interest, which must be submitted before a person can start collecting signatures, Maxwell said.
Mayor Jenn Daniels has stated she plans to run for re-election and Chamber CEO/President Kathy Tilque is rumored to have expressed interest in running for a Council seat. Tilque did not respond to a request for comment.
Candidates going through the regular endorsement process will be notified during January or February of the Chamber’s timeline and asked if they would like to participate, Streeper said.
Candidates who have not completed all their forms before the invitation will not be included in that process, he added.
“The standard evaluation process will be scheduled to be completed so endorsed candidates can benefit from the Chambers support during their campaign period,” Streeper added, noting:
“Though the boxes a candidate must check to gain endorsement are different from those for early endorsement, they are all designed to help us determine if a candidate has a proven understanding of business issues.”
In the 2018 Council race that saw seven candidates vying for four seats, the Chamber endorsed incumbents Eddie Cook, Jordan Ray and Brigette Peterson, who were all re-elected. The Chamber also endorsed James Candland, but voters chose Aimee Yentes instead.