Gilbert should not raise its sales tax or ask voters to approve a primary property tax. Wal-Mart does not belong next to the municipal complex. The town’s sign code should be revised.
This is not the platform of one Gilbert Town Council candidate or the four incumbents or the quartet being endorsed by the mayor. These views are shared by all.
With less than a week before the March 11 primary election, it’s hard to find major policy differences among the 11 candidates seeking four council seats.
Incumbents Dave Crozier, Larry Morrison, Les Presmyk and Vice Mayor Steve Urie are being challenged by Abboud Bedro, Daryl Colvin, Lorin Hatch, Cathy Pai, Steve Shibley, Michael Slattery and Bobby Thompson.
A candidate receiving more than 50 percent of ballots cast on Tuesday will secure a seat on the council. For every seat not filled, two candidates will advance to the May 20 run-off election.
The similar views on major issues does not mean the candidates agree on everything or are being supported by the same groups. With the looming $2 million budget shortfall, the candidates offered different opinions on what should be cut during last week’s candidate forum sponsored by the Tribune.
Only candidates Pai and Thompson said they would consider raising the town sales tax, but neither said they would enter office with the intention of implementing a tax increase.
Colvin was one of nine who pledged not to raise taxes.
"New taxes over my dead body is my position," he said.
Eight of the 11 candidates were required to file campaign finance reports last week for the pre-primary reporting period of Jan. 1 to Feb. 18.
Shibley was the most successful fund-raiser since the beginning of the year with $4,970 in donations. He narrowly edged Presmyk, with $4,865, and Colvin, with $4,740.
"I’m for economic development in Gilbert, which we desperately need, and also smaller government, so I have a broad appeal to all different segments of the population," Shibley said.
The campaign reports of Shibley, Bedro, Colvin and Crozier had a number of common donors, many with ties to real estate and development. Bedro raised $2,000, and Crozier raised $1,930.
Three of these candidates — Bedro, Colvin and Crozier — are endorsed by Mayor Steve Berman, who is also endorsing Councilman Morrison.
Presmyk’s donations included $1,065 from 16 employees of Spectrum Astro, a Gilbert-based satellite manufacturing company, as well as real estate and law firms.
Urie raised $1,980, collecting the same amount from Spectrum Astro. Hatch collected $1,425, while Morrison did not receive donations.
Thompson did not file a report because his political committee was not formed until after the reporting period, Gilbert Town Clerk Cathy Templeton said.
Pai and Slattery, who agreed to spend less than $500, were not required to file reports, Templeton said.
The majority of the council seats may be open, but it’s likely a minority of Gilbert’s registered voters will fill them.
In the last race with four open council seats, the voter turnout was 5.8 percent.
In that election, in March 1999, only 2,133 of the town’s 37,032 registered voters cast ballots.
Voter turnout was higher in the 2001 mayor and council elections.
In the March primary, 6,947 of 46,907 registered voters, or 14.8 percent, cast ballots. In the May runoff, 16.4 percent voted.
Voters may cast a ballot from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. today through Friday at the Town Clerk’s Office at the Gilbert Municipal Center, 1025 S. Gilbert Road. For more information, call (480) 503-6871.