The Gilbert Sun News invited the candidates for mayor to write an column that addresses this question: What is your vision for Gilbert as it approaches buildout in 2030 and how would you achieve that?
Smith: I can help lay the foundation for our next chapter
By Lynne King Smith
GSN Guest Writer
When I started my campaign for Gilbert mayor, my focus was on three things: how to support small business growth in Gilbert, how to better connect the Council to the residents, and how we promote a stronger sense of community that defines Gilbert.
The past few months have shown us that things can change at any given moment.
Earlier this year, all of our lives changed when faced with the biggest pandemic of our lifetime. Now families are bracing for economic uncertainly, and businesses in our community are doing everything they can to weather this storm and stay afloat. I’ve been there, and I’m here with you now.
I started my business out of my garage, and led it through the recession in 2008 by proactively cutting expenses in order to keep our staff intact. That company continued to grow – and one company became four – but it wasn’t easy, and we didn’t do it alone.
Now, more than ever, we must come together as a community to support our fellow residents and our small businesses.
Yet, we must look at this moment as a chance to lay the foundation for our next chapter. Over the next decade, it is anticipated our population will increase upwards of 25 percent, surpassing 330,000 residents by 2030.
While change may be inevitable for Gilbert, what will continue is a strong community, one that supports the businesses that drive our local economy, and a sense of pride among residents who are proud to call Gilbert home.
Doing this successfully will require new, experienced leadership that isn’t concerned with scoring political points or making flowery speeches. Rather, we need a mayor who can make hard decisions to protect the economic future of our community.
I believe I am the leader who can do that.
When elected as Gilbert’s next mayor, I am prepared to make the difficult decisions to keep our economic house in order, while still providing the high level of community services that enrich our quality of life, investing in necessary infrastructure enhancements and keeping Gilbert one of the safest communities in the nation.
My business experience and leadership has prepared me to bring people together, to build coalitions and deliver the straight talk needed to work through issues.
As mayor, I will work hard to lead the community in similar fashion, bringing our community together, connecting groups and organizations to businesses and people, and being up front with the residents of Gilbert on where I stand.
When asked what I love most about living in Gilbert, I always talk about how strong the sense of community is. As your next mayor, I want to make sure everyone who hears about or comes to Gilbert feels that way.
The next decade we will see our community grow, and likely change, but one thing will remain and that is the character of Gilbert.
Peterson: I’ve been, will be part of our successes
By BRIGETTE PETERSON
GSN Guest Writer
My vision for Gilbert has remained steady for the past two decades through my active participation in numerous planning projects and hours of discussion with residents.
Gilbert is and will remain a safe, healthy and vibrant town while embracing our heritage. A vibrant business climate is essential, thriving educational choices, healthy environmental practices, with diverse recreational opportunities while following fiscally sustainable goals.
The Town of Gilbert’s leadership has focused on the future and its build-out since the 1990s. This thoughtfulness has set solid groundwork to get us where we are today.
The leadership has had the foresight to make important land acquisitions, build a strong pro-business climate and increased transparency, including the use of a data portal known as Alex. Alex provides statistics on Gilbert’s safety, finances, growth and development which provides variable information to make future decisions.
Gilbert is also the home of three of the Top 10 Schools Districts in Arizona – Gilbert Public, Higley Unified and Chandler Unified.
This thriving education base has led businesses such as the world headquarters for Isagenix International, Deloitte, Footprint and Silent-Aire just to name a few, to locate in Gilbert creating a viable future for the community.
We have set the base to build upon for additional high-wage jobs to call Gilbert home, higher education opportunities to become available, development of arts and culture and diversity growth as we reach build-out.
We’ve achieved this continuum of success by being aware of shifting trends and development conditions while knowing when and how it’s best to pivot while maintaining our fiscal policies.
I’ve already been an integral part of the current successes of this community and I will continue on that path as Gilbert moves toward build-out.
I strive to work towards streamline processes while exceeding customer experience for our Gilbert residents and the community.
For example, I just spent the last 18 months working to refresh the Land Development Code; an effort that reduces regulations and makes doing business in Gilbert easier. I’m a collaborative leader and I work to ensure all parties are brought to the table especially with important and controversial matters.
I will listen first to learn what the community wants to see as we continue on this journey. The town is data and technology driven, which is also one of my strong points and I intend to build upon that for our future decisions.
As we celebrate 100 years as a Town, we can definitely say we’ve come a long way from the being the Hay Shipping Capital of the World!
The next 100 years will expand upon our historical past and the amazing future milestones that will open us up to great possibilities!
Nielsen: My plan for keeping Gilbert Gilbert
By MATT NIELSEN
GSN Guest Writer
Gilbert is a special place. We have a lot to be grateful for as residents. We all live here because we appreciate the great things about our town.
Ten years from now, if we do things right, Gilbert will have kept its character and charm – and, most importantly, its small-town feel.
To accomplish this, we need to pursue smart, balanced growth, make town government more efficient, and we need to keep Gilbert Gilbert.
Smart, balanced growth
Government should fulfill its role, but not outgrow it. That means: 1) Government should make smart financial decisions that protect taxpayer dollars and execute the town’s needs effectively, efficiently, and economically.
2) Gilbert citizens should keep more of their money.
We have the second lowest taxes in the Valley. I intend to continue, and even improve upon that. My default position will be no new taxes. If someone comes to me proposing a tax increase, the burden will be on them to prove the necessity and value.
3) Government also has a responsibility to protect the fundamental rights of its citizens – not infringe on them. As mayor, I will make sure government doesn’t overstep into your individual liberties.
Efficient town government
Gilbert will have a strong future if we make smart decisions now. We need to plan in times of plenty for times of crisis.
Our town should have a similar mindset to our state, which set aside a comfortable rainy-day fund that has been key to sustaining Arizona during difficult days.
By making wise decisions as a town during these challenging days, we can have the budget and economic vitality for new growth and amenities later – and a buffer for any future bumps in the road.
As mayor, I intend to make decisions with an eye to Gilbert’s next 10 years and beyond. We will continue to be the best town in Arizona to live, play, work, and raise a family.
Keep Gilbert Gilbert
Gilbert is attractive because it is a well-planned community with great amenities.
We need to make decisions, even during tight financial times, to protect what makes our town special. When it comes to development, we need to be mindful of both individual property rights and local community needs.
As mayor, I will work with developers on planned projects well ahead of time and prioritize community engagement so Gilbert residents know what is coming and can provide input.
Residents don’t want to sacrifice the things that make Gilbert special. We can grow, improve, and modernize without giving up our town.
We have a lot worth preserving. Learn more at my website: VoteMattNielsen.com