Three Gilbert residents have begun campaigns to oust the town’s state legislators from office in the November election.
The hopefuls are challenging three incumbents who ran unopposed two years ago: Reps. Andy Biggs and Eddie Farnsworth and Sen. Thayer Verschoor, all R-Gilbert.
The opposition comes in the wake of a battle between town officials and supporters of a law Biggs and Verschoor sponsored — and Farnsworth supported — which would have required the town to provide fire service to county island residents for a fee.
The newcomers, all Republicans, include House candidates Terri Tobey, a business consultant and former associate publisher for legal magazines and a member of the town’s economic development advisory board; and Karl Kohlhoff, a member of the town’s Planning Commission.
Joe Bedgood, a member of the town’s Community Activities Board, is running for Senate against Verschoor.
“I’ve just been amazed at some of the decisions,” Tobey said. “The county island (law) was probably just the icing on the cake.”
Mayor Steve Berman said many residents concerned about legislators who supported the fire district law will be interested in the new candidates. Two years ago, Berman was the chairman for Verschoor’s campaign committee.
But the incumbents say they stand behind their records as experienced leaders who have a long history of voting for lower taxes and less government.
Farnsworth said Berman is behind the newcomers’ decision to run.
“This is something the mayor’s continuing to try to make an issue,” Farnsworth said. “He’s out there trying to get people to run against us.”
Berman denied the claim, saying that the incumbents “drummed up the interest” themselves.
Farnsworth said voters would fare better re-electing “known quantities” who understand the complex legislative process.
On complaints about the fire law, Farnsworth said that fire protection is a state issue, not a town or local control issue.
Biggs agreed, adding that the county island fire district would have been less government for county residents as compared to being annexed into the town.