Gilbert voters won’t have to vote in November for its new Town Council members, although there’s still some doubt who will fill the fourth open seat.
Preliminary results released by the Maricopa County Recorder have Vice Mayor Eddie Cook, Jordan Ray and Brigette Peterson finishing in first, second and third with 18.5, 17.4 and 16.8 percent in favor, respectively. Cook said the number of votes they received were enough to earn all three spots on the Gilbert Town Council based on a formula unveiled this year.
Per the formula, seats are decided based on the number of votes divided by the number of available seats, in this case four. The final tally is then divided by two and rounded to the nearest whole number to create the threshold for candidates to be elected without participating in the Nov. 4 election.
The final seat, however, is still up in the air. Current fourth-place finisher and council incumbent Victor Petersen is up by just fewer than 400 votes on T.J. Tillman without accounting for mail-in and provisional ballots. Cook said both candidates appear to have received enough votes to make it on the council without having to run again in November.
“I am surprised all four were elected; I thought two or three would be. It turned out really well for us,” Peterson said.
She added having the seats determined prior to a November election has its advantages, including a reduction in expenses related to campaigning and an early start on taking down her campaign signs. Ray said the situation also provides more time to focus on other aspects of serving on the council.
The other two council candidates, Jason Cvancara and Tim Rinesmith, received 9.6 and 8.6 percent, respectively.
It could take the weekend for the town to compile the final results, and the Gilbert Town Council has to approve the results before they become official, which is expected to occur at its Sept. 11 meeting. The winners will begin their terms in office in January 2015.
A win by Petersen would mean the return of three out of four town council members, with only Ben Cooper, who did not run for re-election, returning to the council. Peterson also has experience working with the Gilbert government through the town’s planning commission.
Cook attributes the result to the efforts the council and town government have made over the past three years, among them a reduction in Gilbert’s debt and improved bond ratings, which he said offered incentive to keep things status quo and continue in a positive direction.
“We’re a big village making this all work,” he said.
The foundation set by the council now, Ray said, means there isn’t an “ultra-glaring need” to fix anything from day one. Rather, Ray said the council can instead focus on Gilbert’s future, like economic development.
“We’re in excellent shape, we’re doing great things,” he said.
Contact writer: (480) 898-5647 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @EricMungenast