This is the second and final set of columns by the candidates for Gilbert Town Council. Lauren Hendrix and Bill Spence are vying for the two-year seat and the other four are vying for two four-year seats. Their previous column, the two by the three candidates for mayor and all the candidates’ questionnaires are at gilbertsunnews.com. Election Day is Aug. 4.
Anderson: Decision makers must keep our small-town feel
By SCOTT ANDERSON
GSN Guest Writer
Over the years, we have been recognized in Gilbert as a best place to raise a family, most prosperous community, safest city and best place to start a business.
You have consistently cited Gilbert as having a special small-town feel, even though our population is currently around 260,000. I have often wondered how all of this is possible. I believe I may have found a possible explanation.
I think you have all found a unique connection to our town. This is referred to by many as “place attachment.” I want to list some questions, listed in a book authored by Melody Warnick called, “This is Where You Belong.” The answers you give will hint at why you love Gilbert’s small-town feel and have received so many “best” awards.
Assess your attachment to Gilbert by answering the following statements as true or false.
1.I feel like I belong in this community.
2.I’ve lived here a long time.
3.I know a lot of people here.
4.I know my way around.
5.I feel comfortable here.
6.The friendships and associations I have with other people in this town mean a lot to me.
7.I feel rooted here.
8.I like to tell people about where I live.
9.I grew up here.
10.I rely on where I live to do the stuff I care about most.
11.If I could live anywhere in the world, I would live here.
12.If something exciting were happening in this town, I’d want to be involved.
13.I’m really interested in knowing what’s going on here.
14.My town isn’t perfect, but there are a lot of things that make me love it.
15.The people who live here are my kind of people.
16.I hope that my kids live here even after I’m gone.
17.I feel loyal to this town.
18.I like to attend events that are happening in my town.
19.Where I live tells you a lot about who I am as a person.
20.I care about the future success of this town.
21.I don’t want to move anytime soon.
22.I can rely on people in this town to help me.
23.There is no other place I’d rather live.
24.It feels like home.
The more you answer “true,” the greater chance you are attached in a unique way to Gilbert.
This is why we still have a small-town feel in the largest town in America. If you did not identify as “true” for most of the statements, here are some actions you might consider while here in Gilbert:
Walk more. Buy local. Get to know your neighbors. Do fun stuff in Gilbert. Explore local nature. Volunteer. Eat local. Create something new. Stay loyal through hard times. Get active in local affairs.
You are the reason this town is known as clean, safe and vibrant, and, more importantly, has the feel of a small town.
As decision-makers, we should always look through the lens of making Gilbert a “small town” where residents can feel attached because of our actions.
Hendrix: ‘I will work for all Gilbert citizens’
By LAURIN HENDRIX
GSN Guest Writer
I have been asked on many occasions if I support police officers and first responders. In response, I would like to share an experience that I had while serving as a state representative.
On Jan. 28, 2010, Lt. Eric Shuhandler was killed while serving as a Gilbert police officer. He was 42. He was highly respected for his management and technology skills, which made police investigations more efficient.
Lt. Shuhandler spent 16 years of his life keeping Gilbert safe and establishing positive relationships with our citizens. He also mentored and protected children as he oversaw the school resource program. His death sent shock waves through our community.
I was appalled that the punishment for assaulting and murdering peace officers and first responders was not more severe. Following Lt. Shuhandler’s death, I voted in favor of House Bill 2062, which resulted in harsher punishments for these crimes.
I felt that Lt. Shuhandler’s sacrifice should be remembered, so I sponsored an amendment stating that HB 2062 would carry his name. I was honored to read the Lt. Eric Shuhandler Act on the House floor with his wife and children present. I also sponsored and read a resolution that day, paying tribute to his life of service.
In addition to police officers, HB 2062 includes crimes against firefighters, fire investigators, fire inspectors, medical responders, teachers and other school employees. The penalties apply when these public servants are assaulted, injured or killed while serving in their respective capacities.
This legislation changed aggravated assault from a class six felony to a class five felony. It also changed aggravated assault resulting in physical injury, from a class five felony to a class four felony.
I want our first responders to know that they are an integral part of our community.
I cannot adequately express my gratitude for those who protect and serve us. In recent years, shootings and other crimes have become more commonplace on our nation’s school grounds, making it even more important that educators are also included in this legislation.
We are very fortunate to have brave and dedicated men and women serving us. I support them and will continue to do so. While many police departments across the country are dealing with corruption, we are not. It will not be tolerated.
Regular evaluations of our policies ensure that our officers serve with fairness and honesty. Many of them are your neighbors.
I will work for all Gilbert citizens as a member of the Town Council, regardless of occupation, race, gender or economic status. We are a diverse community, and our differences make us stronger and more empathetic as we strive to keep Gilbert a safe and thriving place to live.
Hudgins: We need leaders who understand small business
By TYLER HUDGINS
GSN Guest Writer
At 22 years old, I had a desk, a computer and a dream.
It was the biggest risk I have taken in my entire life. I left my job, started a small business and signed on my first home – all in the same day.
My desk at times felt like a rollercoaster with all of the highs and lows I experienced while sitting behind it. I worked very hard and moved through many challenges.
This is the story of many small business owners. We start with a dream and place all of our chips on the table. We wear many hats, solve unique problems, and earn everything we get.
Nothing is handed to us.
Seven years of experience in running my small business is a big part of why I am running. We need leadership that has been in the trenches.
Everyone has a background that will shape the way that they discern issues and ultimately vote – mine is small business.
I know what it means to run payroll and manage expenses.
Some of my top priorities will be to increase economic development, support small business, and bring jobs to Gilbert. Small businesses are collectively the biggest drivers of our economy.
Currently, 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 an extra two hours each day?
Perhaps residents could spend more time with family, friends, and neighbors and be more invested in the community through volunteering. They could also have lunch meetings in Gilbert to support local businesses and spend their tax money locally.
Many entrepreneurs invest deeply in their communities. When I opened SocialTech Consulting in downtown Gilbert, I did not only want to serve my clients but also wanted to serve those around me.
My desire to be involved led me to apply for a position on the Redevelopment Commission for downtown Gilbert.
In my interview with Mayor Jenn Daniels and the Town Council, I expressed that we had an oversaturation of restaurants in the downtown and needed more retail and office. This would give residents the opportunity to do more than just eat and leave.
I was appointed to a four-year term and served as chairman for two years. During that time, our commission had to pass the updated 10-year Redevelopment Plan.
I am happy to say that the plan addresses these issues. Our vision brings retail and office space to the downtown.
The Redevelopment Plan was adopted by the Town Council and serves as a guiding vision for the area. When elected, I will make sure that we see the full implementation of the Plan.
It has been difficult to hear the stories of many fellow small business owners that are having to take steps backwards or are closing their doors. Now more than ever, we need leaders that understand what small business owners are facing.
I will be the voice for small business on the Town Council.
Obayomi: Let us move Gilbert forward together
By BUS OBAYOMI
GSN Guest Writer
In 2018, I had a passion for starting an event that would bring people from all backgrounds and churches together. That was where my heart was. It is called “building bridges.”
I felt the church had a responsibility to lead the conversation in bringing people together. I also thought that I had a strategic role to play.
As someone with a Nigerian background who moved to the United States at the age of 14, my experience had been mixed and diverse. I have been part of a predominantly African-American church, predominantly African church, mostly white church and multi-cultural church.
The exciting part is that I was always an active member. This experience is not because I was jumping from church to church, but because I have had to transition from one State to another and various other changes.
I felt my experiences were significant, and I had a role to play. I started “building bridges” because it was an avenue to bring those churches together that will not initially connect. I sent an invitation to various churches, including Korean, Chinese, Hispanic churches.
Many of the attendees were from the predominantly African-American church and members from my local church in Gilbert then. I appreciate and honor Evident Life that they allowed using the church for such an event.
It was a passion of mine to engage the cultures and communities around me. I believe we all have our experiences, but we also have a responsibility to join our neighbors.
As someone who moved to Gilbert because I found a church I loved, I felt the church had to lead in these conversations and see things through the heart of Christ. If we do not engage in these conversations, I do believe we would grow into irrelevancy in such matters.
Outside of church, I am the founder and principal consultant of New Zeal Intl. Consulting. The goal of starting New Zeal is to equip business and individuals with skills and opportunities. I do think the current chaos in our society is an undercurrent of economic disparity.
As Gilbert residents, we have a responsibility to know our neighbors and build relationships with them. We also have a responsibility to make an influence in every sphere of influence we find ourselves.
Conversations only start when we begin to care about others around us. As your councilman, I will make it a priority that Gilbert is a home for every individuals and family.
Together, let us move Gilbert forward. See voteobayomi.com.
Spence: Some of my qualities I haven’t written about
By Bill Spence
GSN Guest Writer
This is one of my last articles during this election season. By now, you will have read my responses to numerous questions and have formulated a pretty good opinion of my vision for Gilbert.
However, there are a few things that I frequently discuss but have never put them in print – until now.
Data-based decisions are vital. We should make decisions that are data driven, not philosophically and lacking the support of the majority of residents. I spend much of my time as council member conducting research, gathering data, and talking to citizens.
My experience in nuclear power has taught me to relentlessly pursue the facts from every available source. I read a lot!
I also approach decisions with consideration of multiple variables and evaluate our return-on-investment over time. It’s a more complex process, however.
Arguments made when considering only two-variables don’t always lead to coming to the proper conclusions. A simple example of this may be the process of when you buy an air conditioner.
You evaluate initial cost, quality, expected length of service, and efficiency, as a few of the major considerations. The first year is going to show a significant expense. However, the efficiency of the air conditioner will more than pay for itself.
Integrity in service. My personal integrity and character are extremely important qualities that I have demonstrated throughout my life. I have successfully completed numerous clearance investigations, including two for my TOP SECRET/SSBI/SCI clearances, and I served in some of the most classified programs in our country.
I feel that this is important for a few reasons.
First, I am an open book. I have no fear or obligations to anyone that may try to influence the decisions that I may have to make as a council member.
Secondly, honesty and ownership of my actions has been a way of life for me for as long as I can remember. I believe that the people are deserving of the full truth. At the end of the day I conduct myself and make decisions that let me stand proud before God and my family.
Relationships matter. I’m very proud at the number of community leaders and elected officials… past and present… that have extended their support and given me their endorsement.
While it is important for me to have relationships within Gilbert, my vision for Gilbert’s long-term prosperity requires involvement from all of our East Valley partners. And when East Valley succeeds, Gilbert succeeds.
I’d like to acknowledge all of our candidates for their commitment and desire to serve our town. My prayers are with all of you as we approach the final stretch of this cycle.
I am a huge believer in democracy and encourage everyone to let their voices be heard by voting.
Lastly, I’d like to thank all my friends and family for the support that you have given me. I look forward to meeting more of our residents as we approach Election Day. Be sure to visit bill4gilbert.com. I’ll see you at the polls!
Tilque: Consider my vast experience, leadership skills
By KATHY TILQUE
GSN Guest Writer
Who is Kathy Tilque and why is she running for Town Council?
I am dedicated to community service and servant leadership. After 32-years in the Chamber of Commerce industry and 24 of those years as the president/CEO of the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce I have first-hand experience of being part of the planning and development of the Gilbert we love today.
And it is my desire to ensure Gilbert continues to be vibrant, safe and prospers long into the future.
With the dramatic turnover in our Town Council, it has never been more important to elect councilmembers who have the historic knowledge, experience, and understanding of how Town government works and how to build consensus.
I am a proven leader, one who takes the time to understand the issues, listens to all sides, and I am a master at identifying unintended consequences.
I have long-term, strong relationships with elected officials ranging from school boards, other cities’ councilmembers, state legislators, the Governor’s office, county supervisors to our federal delegates.
Even if we don’t agree 100 percent of the time, these relationships are built on trust and brings us all to the table to find the best solutions possible for our community. And that is what Gilbert needs; not only someone who can make wise decisions locally, but who can also be a strong advocate for Gilbert throughout the region, state, and nation.
If you love Gilbert today, I promise to bring loyalty, perseverance, and commitment to ensuring this growing community is a dynamic, financially positioned, and leading-edge Gilbert of the future.
Working together, we will reduce traffic congestion, create connectivity not only through circulation options, but even more importantly, involving citizens and businesses to identify how we can be the best community in the nation.
I will also uphold high standards for quality development while reducing needless regulations, keep reasonable tax rates and we will acknowledge our differences while celebrating our similarities.
As I have for 32 years, I will continue to be a fierce advocate for a pro-business environment working to bring jobs to our community for our families.
I will ensure the financial sustainability of the Town as we reach build-out and look beyond, and I will always make well-considered decisions regarding the efficient use of tax-dollars to guarantee a vibrant, safe community with best of class services for all.
I have retired from a career I love. But I am still passionate about continuing my service within the community. I want to be certain our children and grandchildren can make Gilbert their home and place of business long into the future.
Gilbert has many important decisions to make that will determine what that community looks like. Please consider my vast experience and leaderships skills as you vote for Gilbert’s Town Council next members who can move our community into the future. Vote Kathy Tilque…Because getting it right matters!