December 9, 2004
Familiar names and a contentious mayoral race rematch will mark the ballot in Gilbert’s March 8 primary election.
Wednesday was the deadline for candidates for the mayor and two Town Council seats to file 210 signatures with the town clerk’s office.
Town Clerk Cathy Templeton said by late Wednesday that nine people filed papers to run for the two council seats and two filed for the mayor’s post. Several of those who filed have previous ties to town politics.
Mayor Steve Berman and former Mayor Cynthia Dunham both filed papers for the town’s top post.
Berman served as mayor from 1989 to 1991 and from 2001 to the present. Dunham was mayor from 1997 until Berman defeated her in the 2001 election.
Dunham’s platform includes public safety, economic development, municipal services and leadership. She said Berman hasn’t done enough to hire police officers or town employees and hasn’t enticed enough big business to Gilbert.
"The town is not safe under the current mayor," she said. "When I left office, we had more police officers per 1,000 people than we currently do."
Town records show Gilbert has about 0.89 officers per 1,000 residents.
Chandler, Mesa, Tempe and Scottsdale have ratios ranging from about 1.4 to about two officers per 1,000.
Berman said that while the ratio of officers to people has decreased while he has been in office, so has the crime rate. He pointed to a July Tribune story that reported city and FBI statistics showing Gilbert with just 36.6 serious crimes per 1,000 residents. Records showed the rate was 64.7 in Mesa, 50.4 in Chandler and 45.5 in Scottsdale.
Berman said his campaign focuses on "respect for tax dollars," community building, economic development and stability.
He said Dunham’s term had been marked by issues that divided the community, such as the Devil Dogs white supremacy gang.
Dunham said the Devil Dogs are no longer an issue.
"They were arrested, prosecuted and they served their time," she said.
Other familiar names slated for the ballot include council incumbents Don Skousen and Dave Petersen. Larry Moritz, David Dehority, Lanny Brown, Joe Bedgood, Elizabeth Cress-Sweet, Cathy Pai and Joan Krueger also filed papers to run for the two council seats.
Krueger serves on Gilbert’s Planning and Zoning Commission. Pai ran for a council seat in 2003, and Cress-Sweet is chairwoman of Gilbert’s Arts Advisory Board.