Mayor Steve Berman and one of his opponents, ex-Councilman David Petersen, filed nominating petitions for March's town ballot Monday, the first day they could do so.
Town Clerk Cathy Templeton said both men had turned in more than the minimum number of required signatures, but did not know their exact totals. Anyone running for Town Council must turn in between 240 and 480 signatures by Dec. 10.
At least 13 Gilbert residents have formed political committees to back a run for mayor or Town Council, which must be done before signatures are collected. Templeton said it might take a while for the rest of the potential candidates to show up: "Most of them will come in the last week."
Berman said he turned in somewhere between 650 and 700 signatures, despite a spate of bad publicity over the last year which cumulated in a very public split with his wife, with whom he has since reconciled.
"I had no trouble getting signatures, and everyone I talked to when I was going door to door was very positive," he said.
Petersen, who served one term on the council before being defeated in a runoff with now-Councilwoman Joan Krueger four years ago, said he turned in more than 600 signatures, collected by around 20 volunteer circulators.
A fiscal conservative and member of the National Rifle Association and John Birch Society, Petersen said he thinks he's gotten support from a fairly broad cross-section of petition signers.
"I'd say about half the people I talked to know me and are familiar with what I'm about, and 40 percent want Berman out and 10 percent were oblivious to what's going on in town," he said.
Petersen and Berman often were allies while on the council together, but "we kind of parted ways soon after I left the council," Petersen said.
The rift started with Petersen circulating a petition opposing a tough anti water-wasting ordinance that was passed, then rescinded by the council.
For his part, Berman said, "I have a huge amount of respect for Dave Petersen running against me because he's running against me for the right reasons. He announced two years ago he was going to try to take me out of office, while other people saw the perception of personal misfortune on my part and decided to take advantage of that."
Berman's wife accused him of domestic violence this summer, obtaining a restraining order which has since been dropped.
The mayor has also drawn criticism for using a truck donated to the town for his use and other actions.
He said he will run on a record of promoting business growth and a high quality of life, saying a just-released article in BusinessWeek magazine naming Gilbert the best place in Arizona to raise children offers further proof of his success.
There are at least three more potential mayoral challengers. Town Councilman Don Skousen said he has enough signatures to qualify, but more sheets have yet to be turned in to him by his supporters.
He said he hasn't had to collect any signatures for himself, because so many others are willing to do it for him.
"I have until Dec. 10 to turn them in and believe me, I will turn them in," he said.
Eric Hurley, a college student and GoDaddy customer service representative, said he has collected the minimum amount of required signatures but is gunning for more, and hopes to wrap his drive up after this weekend's Gilbert Days parade.
A fifth mayoral aspirant, Arizona Cardinals business executive Adam Turner, began collecting signatures last week.
The Town Council officially adopted the election schedule during its Tuesday meeting. Mayoral and council contests which are not decided with a majority of the vote in the March 10 primary will go on to a runoff at the May 19 general election.