Gilbert Town Council gets a conservative makeover - East Valley Tribune: Gilbert

Gilbert Town Council gets a conservative makeover

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Posted: Monday, May 23, 2011 11:52 am | Updated: 3:48 pm, Wed Jun 15, 2011.

A look at the new personnel suggests that the Gilbert Town Council is poised to move right.

After all, victorious election challengers Eddie Cook, Jordan Ray and Victor Petersen are considered more conservative than Linda Abbott, Dave Crozier and Les Presmyk, the incumbents they are replacing.

However, Ray said he believes that the new Council, which will be seated on June 23, is a result of Gilbert residents voting their priorities, not an ideology.

“My opinion is moderate, conservative, whatever you want to call it — the town wants fiscal discipline, business growth, and public safety put first,” Ray said. “It doesn’t matter where you stand on the spectrum, those are the things they want done.”

Such issues as the controversial Zinke dairy land purchase and proposed sales-tax increase — which was rejected by voters last year — sparked great emotion during the campaign.

“Voters want to see fiscal responsibility,” Petersen said. “They see problems on a national level and here on the local level, though certainly not on the same scale. But we’ve got things to work on, and as the campaign wore on, the voters got educated on that and wanted things to improve. They voted for that direction.”

Cook, Ray and Petersen join two limited-government stalwarts, Jenn Daniels and mayor John Lewis, on the Council. The other two members — Ben Cooper, the only incumbent to survive last week’s election, and John Sentz — are more moderate.

Cooper, appointed to the Council last year, said that making Gilbert more business-friendly “has to be the dominant theme” going forward.

Although he was not around for the dairy land purchase vote that was a big source of the hot water for Abbott, Crozier and Presmyk, Cooper said he did not worry about getting caught up in the anti-incumbent wave.

“I tried not to think about it,” Cooper said. “I wanted to stay as clear as I could on my message about bringing economic development and business growth to the town while working on being fiscally responsible.”

The Council loses a lot of experience; the outgoing members had a combined 34 years on the dais. Its senior members will be Lewis, Daniels and Sentz, all elected in 2009.

The departing members had expertise in education (Abbott), engineering (Presmyk) and public safety (Crozier). The new members possess business backgrounds, with Petersen having an emphasis on homebuilding and Cook and Ray rooted in technology.

“I can’t speak for the other Council members as to what they’ll do when they’re there, but I’ve been very open that I’m a conservative,” Petersen said. “I put that right on my mailers: principled conservative leadership. And I want to do things that are consistent with those principles.”

Said Ray: “There may be some of us who are more conservative than others, but in the end, we’re going to do what’s best for the town, and make it sustainable for the future.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6301 or

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