Read commentaries from the candidates for Gilbert Town Council:
Common sense approach to leadership
By DAVE CROZIER
I am running for Gilbert Town Council because of my love for our community and because I’m very excited about the many fantastic opportunities we are about to experience, if given a chance to occur. Our town needs and deserves leaders who listen and who have the common sense and balance to keep our town moving forward.
Currently, we are the 16th most desirable community to live in within the United States. We are also the safest community in Arizona and the 22nd safest in the entire U.S. Given that Gilbert was the fastest growing city in the U.S. for a decade, achieving this kind of success is phenomenal. Additionally, the council currently enjoy a 98 percent overall approval rating from our citizens. Our community not only needs to cleave onto this evidence of community excellence, but we should improve on them as well.
• Public safety: We need to continue to improve on public safety. Our police force needs to be at a level where it has time to patrol neighborhoods and prevent crime, not just respond to emergencies quickly. The lack of county island fire protection needs to be addressed without burdening Gilbert taxpayers by having to subsidize the service. I will fight any attempt proposed by a council candidate, coalition or other group that wants to cut police and fire protection, robbing the funds so they can be used for special interests. Keeping our community safe is my No. 1 priority.
• Fiscal responsibility: Gilbert is fiscally conservative, innovative and creative. We need to increase revenues and be frugal (not cheap) with spending, in other words we need to continue to cut fat without cutting the muscle. We can increase revenues by ensuring we have a common-sense and stable local government, by taking full economic advantage of our new freeway, by ensuring the area around Williams Gateway is developed as planned, i.e. a Mill Avenue concept for the area west of the airport, and striving to maintain a high quality of life that employers expect as they consider moving into a community.
• Traffic: While Gilbert completed its freeway a year early and $1 million under budget, we still have a lot of work to do to improve local traffic conditions. We need to coordinate traffic signals better, coordinate adjacent cities’ construction projects that intrude into Gilbert and we need to rid our community of scalloped roads that create dangerous conditions and congestion. We also need to widen critical major arterials so timely access can be made to and from freeways. This is a quality of life issue; who wants to be stuck in traffic while missing their child’s ball game or concert?
In summary, I want to be sure our community is poised for long-term success so that our children and grandchildren will have a safe place they can call home, a community where they can afford to live, work and play. I offer the common sense and leadership needed to allow us to become the community of excellence we all expect and desire. Thank you for your consideration and I hope I can count on your vote.
- Dave Crozier is a member of the Gilbert Town Council.
Bring founding ideals back to Town Council
By BILL NORTON
Thomas Jefferson once said “the natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” One aspect I love about the Founding Fathers — they understood human nature and the natural course of governments. Their application of the principles of life, liberty, and property is a proven success formula that built this nation into a blessing to the world.
I am running for the Gilbert Town Council because liberty has yielded and our government is gaining ground. These are not trite phrases or sound bites. For people who love our country, these are concepts with real meaning.
As co-founder and co-chairman of Gilbert Constitution Week, I have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for our liberty. I have been impressed with the love Gilbert citizens have shown for these principles as they have participated in Constitution Week by the tens of thousands, making it the largest constitutional celebration in the country. It is time for these principles to return to our town government.
Our council has failed to be proper stewards over our town. They have been self-interested, rather than the people’s representatives. The council has raised its pay by more than 400 percent in nine years, including backdating a retirement package to the first day in office. They imposed (and then later repealed) criminal penalties for water runoff, punishable by $2,500 or six months in jail. Our infrastructure needs, such as roads, are taking a back seat to lavish spending and debt. Our sacred right of property is being taxed at ever-increasing amounts. The county island debacle has driven a wedge in our community and is now costing us millions and is threatening our 911 service.
When elected, I will vote to have all council compensation voted on by the people. As the people’s representative, I will protect life by maintaining strong police and fire departments, will not support policies that threaten our 911 service, and will work to change the unwritten policy that prevents our officers from booking illegal immigrants.
I will protect liberty by preventing laws that overregulate and criminalize civil issues. I will protect property by paying down debt to reduce or eliminate the town property tax and I will be more fiscally responsible by prioritizing infrastructure over lavish, quality-of-life spending.
It is time for a change on the Town Council and I believe my experience qualifies me to represent you. I own and operate a small concrete company called The Sharper Edge. My brother and I started it more than 18 years ago with only a truck, a wheelbarrow, and a shovel and have built it into a company that has provided an honest living for us and our employees.
I’m currently chairman of the Arizona State Constitutional Commemoration Committee, a legislative committee that promotes the Constitution throughout Arizona. Recently, I was chairman of District 22 Republicans and have served five years as an assistant district commissioner for the Boy Scouts of America.
Ten years ago, my wife, Ingra, and I specifically chose Gilbert to raise our family. The people are great, the community is great, now let’s move forward and make our government great. Let’s apply the principles of life, liberty, and property to our town.
Vote Bill Norton, Jared Taylor, and Dwayne Farnsworth and we will return the Town Council to the people.
- Bill Norton is a candidate for the Gilbert Town Council.
Incumbents paving road to prosperity
By LES PRESMYK
Gilbert is the 16th safest community in the nation and the 22nd most livable community in the nation. This did not happen by accident. It has taken the hard work and dedication of our residents, town staff and town leaders. I want to move Gilbert higher up on both of these lists during the next four years.
Four years ago I promised to bring in new businesses along the San Tan Freeway, add police officers and firefighters and build parks without raising taxes. I have delivered on those promises and would like to spend another four years working to make Gilbert an even better place to live. We cannot rest on our laurels because there is a lot of work still ahead of us. Three areas I intend to concentrate on are the following:
• Economic development — With the freeway in place, we need to continue to attract employers with high-paying jobs and begin to grow upward, rather than out, with five- to 10-story buildings along the freeway, and avoid using incentives to bring them here. I would like to see an ombudsman at the town to help existing businesses, especially smaller businesses, flourish and expand. Roads will continue to be part of this focus because without good roads, businesses won’t come to Gilbert.
• Quality of life — People and businesses move here for our safe neighborhoods and sense of community, parks and schools. I will continue to add police officers and firefighters to keep people safe and build parks so all of our residents have places to enjoy.
• Water — The town needs to acquire additional water rights to have sufficient resources at buildout. We need to further develop our relationships with our neighbors, the Gila River Indian Community.
People do not move here to say they live in the cheapest community, they move here to live in the best community. I believe I have done a good job balancing the “wants” with the “needs” while keeping taxes low. It is easy for the challengers to talk about the need for a change, but why? According to the town’s latest survey, 98 percent of the residents who were contacted are satisfied or very satisfied living here.
The current council has done a great job of building roads so people can get around quickly and safely. We brought the freeway in ahead of schedule and under budget. We’re building parks, putting more police and firefighters on the street, and supporting schools, while keeping taxes as low as possible.
For more than 20 years, my wife and I have called Gilbert home. We have watched the town grow from 12,000 residents to more than 190,000. We have gone from having to go to Mesa for groceries and restaurants to now having multiple choices within the town.
For the past eight years I have had the honor and pleasure of working for the residents of Gilbert to help guide residential and commercial development. I know what the job entails and it is much more than a few hours every other week.
I encourage all registered voters to examine the records of each of the candidates. Look at experience, dedication, promises made and promises kept. I hope you feel I have earned your vote. But, first and foremost, get out and vote on March 13.
- Les Presmyk is a member of the Gilbert Town Council.
Experience can improve town’s quality of life
By LINDA ABBOTT
My interest in running for the Town Council is based on the belief that I can contribute in meaningful ways to help our town to continue to realize success. With past experience on the council and continued community involvement, I am confident I possess those skills necessary to make a significant impact. These characteristics include my background and knowledge of having lived and worked in Gilbert for 20 years: a proven record of both current and past achievement in identifying and accomplishing major goals, the demonstrated energy and desire to contribute to ensuring that Gilbert remains safe, is financially stable, offers infrastructure and amenities that allow our citizens to maintain a high quality of life.
My top three priorities if elected:
• Fiscal responsibility — All elected officials have a responsibility to be fiscally conservative. Duplication of services is a waste of resources: it is incumbent on elected officials to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars are used wisely. During my previous service on the council, Gilbert entered into several intergovernmental agreements with Maricopa County, including the outline for the Southeast Regional Library and Crossroads Park. We entered into mutual aid with surrounding communities with regards to public safety response. The town and Gilbert Public Schools partnered in after-school and summer programs and building Mesquite Aquatic Center. There are additional prospects with outside jurisdictions.
• Traffic/roads — Our residents are by and large a commuting population. When I served on the council, we assisted the Arizona Department of Transportation in holding several community forums to discuss the alignment of the Santan Freeway. The result of that planning is now assisting thousands of travelers on a daily basis. The same visionary process is needed today. Ensuring that the engineering department is professionally and adequately staffed and that the council members can articulate clearly the needs for future bonds arise are all critical components in solving the problem.
• Keeping the town safe — When I first moved to Gilbert the population was close to 25,000 people. We had one department head that oversaw both police and fire, and the town contracted with a private company for limited fire response. During the late 1980s, several community members including myself, realized the inadequacy of these services and set out to improve public safety within the town. The decision to create a municipal fire department has proven worthy of the effort. Keeping our community safe will require vision, resources and a commitment to prioritize a plan of action. Difficult decisions are made when budget priorities come up for discussions, but the fundamental reason for government to exist is keeping citizens safe.
Our town remains one of the fastest-growing communities in the United States; within the next 10 years we are projected to reach “buildout.” It is not coincidental people continue to locate here. Gilbert’s citizens want elected officials to ensure our community continues to invest in upholding their high standard of living. I understand this desire, and with your support, will dedicate my time and energy in achieving this goal.
- Linda Abbott is a candidate for the Gilbert Town Council.
Keep our government lean
By DWAYNE FARNSWORTH
I am running for Gilbert Town Council because I understand the proper role of local government, and I have a vision for Gilbert’s economic development, public safety, and quality of life issues.
Government exists to enlarge our freedoms, not to diminish them. Government with a limited scope and an open, free economic market best supports and enlarges our collective and individual freedoms. I agree with the declaration that the government that governs least, governs best.
As individual citizens we have joined together for the common protection of our lives, liberties, and property. We have hired a small group of other individuals to help us protect these rights. This group is called “local government,” or in our case, the “Town of Gilbert.” Since the town represents our collective powers as individuals, the town only has those powers to use force to do those things that we have the right to use force to do ourselves as individual citizens.
The proper role of local government is to provide quality police and fire safety services, adequate and efficient transportation corridors and systems, the environment for robust economic development, and to provide those basic public services that support the immediate quality of life needs of the community.
When government exceeds its proper role and scope, it operates in opposition to its own purpose of enlarging the freedoms of its citizens.
As a community, Gilbert needs to focus its immediate energies and resources on the development, construction, improvement, and maintenance of its streets, transportation systems, and traffic control. This improves the likelihood that public safety officials can provide first rate police and fire services. Such services require open arterial streets, and immediate access to those neighborhoods that they serve. Businesses will move into Gilbert more quickly when they have the confidence that the roads and streets are in place to service their customers access to their business, to allow the protection of their properties and employees by public service personnel, and there will be a free and easy movement of their goods and services around the community.
Such transportation infrastructure will be a priority for me as I represent the citizens of Gilbert on the Town Council. I ask for your support and vote on March 13.
- Dwayne Farnsworth is a candidate for the Gilbert Town Council.
Experience can build bridges for community
By ELIZABETH CRESS-SWEET
Coming from the Midwest (mostly the Kansas City, Mo., area) I was raised with a strong work ethic and a heritage of values that included family, education and community. Both my parents were teachers. In the summer, my father, sister and I would travel and perform.
My strong educational background, as well as a career that enabled me to travel, broadened my ability to learn and explore. This facilitates my appreciation of Gilbert’s ever-growing diversity. One example is the Gilbert Global Village Festival, of which I am a founding member.
My experience as an educator runs the gamut from creating programs for young ones, student teaching in high school, to adjunct professor in history, theater and Shakespeare, and holding tutorials for graduate students. I hold degrees from Avila College and from the University of Texas at Austin.
Since moving to Gilbert more than 10 years ago, I have found a variety of ways to serve and share my skills within my community. These skills and abilities will be important as a member of the council as we work to build connections, create relationships and develop dialogue. My pro-business approach is to support large and small, industrial to retail. Incentives should be a factor only on a case-by-case basis and there should be clear guidelines that are applied fairly.
My Bridges concept is a simple one, aimed at keeping revenue in Gilbert, and strengthening the community feel even as we continue to grow. The Bridges program will foster Gilbert businesses helping other Gilbert businesses, and help residents enjoy more about Gilbert as well. For example, attendance at the Hale Theatre might earn you dessert at a Gilbert restaurant, or so many entrees at a restaurant could earn a movie pass.
As a former owner/operator of a resort, I can identify and support a potential source that we seem to keep missing — tourism. From Rawhide to spring training camps, we should be exploring what is possible and good for Gilbert.
I will also work hard with the county to address roads and fire concerns.
Being a pro-family candidate is equally important to me. I believe Gilbert families represent all ages. I have taken the time to listen and with the input of our citizens have identified some of the issues. We have lots of wonderful activities for our young ones, but not for our teens (and tweens). Trolling the mall is not the best place. Teens tell me they would like “a place of their own” and more “dances.” One solution is to schedule “teen only” hours at one of the recreation centers.
Seniors are our treasures. Some would like to work — we need a job resource center for them. Others would like to give back to the community and this is where my Grand Partners program would fit beautifully.
I am a graduate of Gilbert Leadership Class XIV and the Citizens Police Academy. I have served as a parent-teacher school organization officer, a Girl Scout leader and in the Congress of Neighborhoods. I am also active in the Gilbert Historical Society, Gilbert Sister Cities and the League of Women Voters.
I will represent all residents and encourage dialogue. I do not take this duty lightly and will be a full-time councilwoman. I greatly appreciate your support and I ask for your vote.
- Elizabeth Cress-Sweet is a candidate for the Gilbert Town Council.
Guided by principles, voters’ issues
By NEAL YOUNG
My name is Neal Young and I have lived in Arizona for 22 years, nearly 14 of those years in Gilbert. I love living in Gilbert and I have found it a great place to raise a family. Complaints that are often heard are that there is too much money and too many special interests in politics. My campaign is being run on a very low budget with my own funds, and I don’t have any special-interest ties. Why is this important? It means that I will only have loyalty to my principles and the voters.
What are my principles? First, do not spend money frivolously. Spending taxpayer money is a solemn responsibility. These are some reasons I would spend taxpayers’ money: it is legally required, it is a quality of life issue, it is a safety issue, it could be a liability for the town, or the longterm net gain will be greater than the cost of the investment.
Second, the town will be better off with a balance of retail, industrial, and residential development. I favor increasing the retail and industrial development to achieve the recommended balance for a town the size of Gilbert.
Third, do not pass ordinances that encroach on personal or property rights. We do not need government to dictate to us everything we need to do and then fine us when we are not in compliance.
Fourth, accelerate infrastructure improvement where it makes sense, and be sure projects are coordinated to avoid unnecessary interruptions to our daily lives.
Over the past month, I have spent time calling voters to talk directly to them about what is important to them. My intention has been to personally talk to the voters of the town. It’s obvious that I cannot possibly call every registered voter in Gilbert, talk to them personally, and ask for their vote in the allotted time. I have, therefore, spent my time calling those who actually vote. I have found that many of you also care deeply about what happens in Gilbert. The first question I ask when I get to talk to one of you is: What are your concerns in the town? This question has helped me understand what some of the issues are, and sometimes a possible solution.
This is a very difficult way to run a campaign because of the very negative connotations of telephone contacting. Surprisingly, (to me) I have found that those who do care about what happens in the town are willing to accept a cold call from a stranger and actually express concerns and ideas about the town.
Why vote for me? You now know what the principles are that will govern how I would vote if elected to the Town Council. You also know I am willing to not only listen to voters about their concerns, but I have actually sought out citizen input. If you have ever thought there are too many special interests and too much money in politics, you now have a candidate that has eschewed both. I am a positive, forward-looking candidate that will seek to implement sensible, common-sense policy. I look forward to making Gilbert an even better place to live, and with your help I can. Please vote for me, and tell others about my candidacy.
Want to know more? Need an early ballot? Want to talk directly to me? Please visit my Web site at nealyoung4tc.com. Thank you.
- Neal Young is a candidate for the Gilbert Town Council.
Council has built on town’s quality of life
By STEVE URIE
If you like what has happened in the last four years, with your vote and my re-election, you are going to love what is going to happen in the next four years.
My No. 1 concern is that Gilbert has safe neighborhoods. Four years ago, the Town Council allocated public resources to the hiring of 71 new officers, the hiring of 40 additional firefighters, and the acceleration of the construction of four fire stations which resulted in a 29 percent decrease in crime and 34 percent improvement in police response time.
Unlike some council challengers who have stated that they want to cut police and fire, I am committed to hiring 37 more police officers, 64 firefighters and building three more fire stations to provide our neighborhoods with greater safety.
One reason that Gilbert’s crime rate is so low is that the town, the school districts, and the nonprofit sports organizations have worked tirelessly to provide recreational and competitive sports activities for all ages.
There are old adages that say, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground” and “Good kids are tired kids.” Consequently, I have voted for the design, construction and funding of four new parks totaling 150 acres.
Unlike some council challengers who have stated that parks and recreation is “not the proper role of government” or have said that they “will cut parks and accelerate street construction,” I am committed to the design and construction of five new and expansion of three existing parks totaling 488 acres. I am committed to partnering with the school districts to provide more pools, more lighted fields, and a library.
To achieve economic sustainability, viability and renew-ability, Gilbert must attract quality businesses with quality jobs. Employees with quality jobs seek a high quality of life. Gilbert has a rich recreational and educational component. But, Gilbert has a less developed cultural component.
I would like to invite the community to participate in a focus group to determine what cultural components we would like to develop or enhance, as well as what the community would be willing to support with their patronage rather than tax dollars.
In the last four years, Gilbert has invested $68 million in street maintenance, added 190 miles of traffic lanes, and added 75 new intersection traffic signals. In addition, the council approved the sale of $80 million in bonds for new streets and bridges related to the Santan Freeway section of the Loop 101. This was accomplished while the council reduced property taxes twice.
This wise use of bonds accelerated the completion of the freeway by nine months and created a saving of $1 million in budgeted funds. It also fast-tracked the business construction of 10 million square feet along the freeway corridor.
The last four years has seen Gilbert mature into a quality community by becoming the 16th most livable community, the 22nd safest community in the nation, and the expansion of business development, all while maintaining the “small-town atmosphere.”
A vote for me will continue the success that Gilbert has enjoyed in the past and will continue it into the future.
- Steve Urie is a member of the Gilbert Town Council.
Smaller government has merit
By JARED TAYLOR
With the upcoming elections, Gilbert citizens have an opportunity to re-evaluate the Town Council and the direction of our community. I believe my background and experience qualify me to represent you on the next Town Council.
As a native of Arizona, I grew up in the East Valley and graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in management and a master’s in business administration.
Throughout my career, I have provided leadership on several large projects for two multinational firms. Two of my favorite projects have been the design and implementation of a global applicant tracking system and the building of an engineering team for a multimillion-dollar space exploration program.
I have volunteered with the Boy Scouts of America as a varsity coach, venture advisor, and currently serve as a chartered organization representative. Helping young people develop character, citizenship, and other practical skills is an essential investment in the future of our community.
In addition, I work with Barb Stowell and Bill Norton on the Gilbert Constitution Week committee. A privately funded and managed organization, Gilbert Constitution Week reaches more than 40,000 people in Gilbert each year through school visits, family-night lessons, art and essay contests, and the Constitution Week Fair. Last year, I enjoyed teaching 75 Boy Scouts the Citizenship in the World merit badge.
Looking ahead, Gilbert’s potential is bright. Unfortunately, our current Town Council is limiting our potential. A massive budget increase to nearly $900 million, wasteful spending on their own compensation and retirement, and abusive ordinances such as the water crimes ordinance are the legacy of this council. Government does not need to be big to be good.
I will help return to the basics of good government. This means restoring fiscal responsibility; escalating street development; supporting effective public safety; bringing more jobs to Gilbert; and resolving everyday problems.
I’m fortunate to be running with two outstanding candidates: Bill Norton and Dwayne Farnsworth. Together we can bring the Town Council back to the people. On March 13, or by early ballot, please vote for Bill Norton, Dwayne Farnsworth, and Jared Taylor.
- Jared Taylor is a candidate for the Gilbert Town Council.