Candidates for Mayor

Basic Information

Lynne King Smith

Community of Residence: Agritopia

Business: ETix (General Manager); TicketForce (Founder/CEO); Thrive CoWorking (Founder); BLDG313 (Principal); illegal Modern Cocktail Kitchen (Founder/Partner)

Occupation: business owner

Education Background: B.S. in Business, e-business concentration; MBA coursework

Brief summary of employment history: General Manager, ETix, 2019 – present; Founder & CEO, TicketForce, 2003 – 2019; Founder, Thrive Coworking for Women, 2017 – present; Principal, BLDG313, 2016 – present; Founder & Partner; illegal Modern Cocktail Kitchen, 2019 – present

List of community organizations you belong to: Mayor’s Business Advisory Council, Gilbert Arts, Tourism & Culture Board (former board); ; Vistage CEO – board of directors; International Association of Venue Managers – board of directors, executive committee, industry affairs committee, allied committee member and director, performing arts committee member; and the International Association of Ticketing Professionals – board of directors, chair elect, board chair; League of Historic American Theatres – national board member, membership committee.

How long have you lived in the Town of Gilbert/District? 20 years

Matt Nielsen

Community of Residence: Morrison Ranch

Business: Charter One (employer)

Occupation: Executive VP

Education Background: BA Communications (California State University); MS Negotiation & Dispute Resolution (Creighton University School of Law)

Brief summary of employment history: I grew up working in commercial and residential construction. During college and after, I worked in the publishing industry; During graduate school, and after, I worked with law firms in the Midwest, first as an employee, then through a consulting firm that I founded as a small business owner. I currently work to expand education opportunities to children around the country.

List of community organizations you belong to:

How long have you lived in the Town of Gilbert/District? Over 6 years

Brigette Peterson

Community of Residence: Gilbert, AZ


Occupation: Currently Gilbert Town Council Member

Education Background: High School Graduate

Brief summary of employment history: 10 Years Raytheon in Massachusetts, 7.5 years Banner Health in Mesa

List of community organizations you belong to: Gilbert Sister Cities, Gilbert Leadership Alumni

How long have you lived in the Town of Gilbert/District? 25 years as of October 2020

Give three (3) qualifications/skill sets that make you a leading candidate for Mayor. Explain why these qualifications make you a better candidate than your opponents.

Lynne King Smith

Compassion. Experience. Vision.

First and foremost, I care deeply about this community. This is where we raised our family, and where we started our business – a business I saw through the last economic recession, keeping our employees employed and our business thriving. I have since grown that company into a true homegrown success story, developed a building in downtown Gilbert, opened up a coworking space to support other entrepreneurs and small business owners, and am in the process of opening another business in downtown Gilbert.

Secondly, I have been a Gilbert business leader for the past two decades, serving on a number of local and national boards, and executive groups. I am a member of the Mayor’s Business Advisory Council, and was on the former Gilbert Arts, Culture & Tourism board. I am as comfortable in a board room as I am in a small gathering with a neighborhood group.

Lastly, I have the vision, composure and resilience to lead this community through tough times and our best days. In this moment, I am concerned about the long term economic outlook for our community, especially if we continue to run our town as we have. I am prepared to take this challenge head on, working with our business community, residents, and other stakeholders to ensure Gilbert gets to the other side of this crisis stronger than ever before. Gilbert needs new leadership that truly understands how to manage our Town's dynamic growth and also maintain the quality of life we all live here for. I believe I am that leader.

Matt Nielsen

a. I know how to manage budgets, negotiate with people and groups, and communicate effectively. As a former small business owner, I understand the importance of financial responsibility. Government should fulfill its role without outgrowing it. I’m committed to responsible, transparent government in Gilbert.

b. I have 20 years of experience in the private sector—from my time as an entry-level employee on a construction site, all the way up to being a Board Member, Owner, and Founder. I know what it’s like to start at the bottom and, through hard work and determination, gain skills and knowledge in order to add value.

c. I enjoy service. I have volunteered in my faith community serving and teaching young people in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Sunday School. My family and I volunteer for and donate to humanitarian causes locally and around the world. I also founded a non-profit organization that works to expand education opportunities for children where I also serve as Board Chair.

Brigette Peterson

1. I currently serve as a member of the Gilbert Town Council. This is my 2nd term on the Town Council and I’ve grown and learned so much in that role under 2 different Mayors. I can bring all of that to the role of Mayor.

2. Prior to being elected to Town Council, I served on the Gilbert Planning Commission for over 14 years. This gave me the essential skill of looking at growth and development in Gilbert. I also learned how to look at the town as a whole and not just in pieces and most specifically to serve in a non-partisan manner.

3. Over the years, I have served on 3 General Plan committees, the 2000 bond initiative committee, Congress of Neighborhoods, New Resident Social, Gilbert Leadership Class 8 graduate, Gilbert Leadership Past Chair and Board Member for 7 years. All of these positions have allowed me a different view of the community and I’ve created great relationships along the way.

What is your vision for Gilbert in 20-30 years?

Lynne King Smith

If we continue business as usual in our town, we will be far behind our neighboring cities in 20-30 years. I’m running for Mayor because I am the only one with the experience and vision to build a strong future for our town, which includes a robust plan for supporting our business community, and leading Gilbert through the effects of COVID.

But, the work of a Mayor is both short term and long term. My vision for Gilbert addresses the short term needs of our residents and businesses now, while planning for future generations in Gilbert. That vision includes creating a community where businesses are supported and entrepreneurs are encouraged. It is also one where all of our residents feel connected to the strong sense of community that defines Gilbert.

The growth we are experiencing and will continue to see will require investments in infrastructure that supports modern growth, including transportation and transit, and affordable and workforce housing.

As Mayor, I will be committed to ensuring smart growth, while maintaining our excellent quality of life that makes Gilbert attractive to so many people and businesses looking to move here. This means we will need the leadership to make serious investments in our infrastructure to address the growing traffic issues head on. It also means we will need to increase the availability of affordable and workforce housing. We can accomplish this, and do so responsibly, while seeking the input of our community and involving them in the conversation of planning for future growth.

Together, we can play a role in securing a future of opportunity for all Gilbert residents and businesses.

Matt Nielsen

Residents of Gilbert love their town because it’s family-friendly. It’s a great place to raise children, to work, live, and play. There is a strong sense of community here and that’s an impressive accomplishment given we have over 260,000 residents. In 20-30 years, Gilbert will have retained the characteristics that make it attractive today—those same attributes that have caused so many of our friends and neighbors to move to Gilbert in the past several years. We can lead the way into the future without sacrificing the things that we love about our town. Balanced, smart growth is the right approach to the future.

Brigette Peterson

I see Gilbert as a technological city, providing services and amenities that technology brings. I see technology providing us with direction for ensuring sustainability in Gilbert. And, I see all of that continuing to attract residents and quality employers; a safe place where people continue to want to live, work and play.

What are the top two (2) priorities you would like to see accomplished during your term as Mayor?

Lynne King Smith

From the beginning of my campaign for Mayor I have been clear that my top focus will be to help our small and micro businesses and create a Gilbert for all.

When I am elected Mayor, I will be the biggest champion of Gilbert, working to attract high-quality, high-wage jobs to our community. But I will be doing that while building out support networks for our home-grown small and micro businesses that are the backbone of our business community and economic base.

I plan to create a Small Business Assistance Center that is a resource for Gilbert businesses that also creates a network for businesses to talk to each other. This pandemic has shown us how important it is to have a network to help navigate the unknowns, and how having the right connections can help business owners when they don’t know where to turn.

The Small Business Assistance Center will be a no frills, easily accessible resource where businesses can turn to get information on everything from why it matters to have a relationship with a local bank, to understanding the necessary steps to start a business.

Additionally, when I decided to run for Mayor, one of the most pivotal reasons was my concern for the future of Gilbert, and a desire to help create a Gilbert for All. The reputation of our community is family-friendly and welcoming. Yet until every one of our residents feels represented, heard and welcome, we have work to do.

That is why I want to bring the conversations about the Town to the town. We cannot expect our residents to attend every Town Hall meeting, or tune in to all-day budget retreats. It’s time we connected with our neighbors and businesses again, and met with them in their neighborhoods and at their businesses.

The sense of belonging so many of us take for granted is not the experience for every one of our neighbors, and as Gilbert’s next Mayor, I will fight hard to make sure this community is about cultivating a Gilbert for all.

Matt Nielsen

a. First and foremost, I will work to preserve the wonderful things we all enjoy about Gilbert. We need to ensure Gilbert properly fulfills its role in providing for public safety, roads, water, sewer, and other infrastructure.

b. Further, I will immediately get to work to right-size town government. We are already top-heavy. We can be more efficient than we are, currently. I’ll discuss and work with town staff and use my business experience to inform my decisions about where we can improve.

Brigette Peterson

My top wildly important goal (WIG) is making the Vaughn Ave ventilator/connection happen. This is an improvement to downtown circulation that will be an improvement for residents and businesses.

My second priority is a healthy and vibrant community. Which to me includes a lot of different aspects; keeping us safe, bringing in new industry and making sure our current businesses can expand and grow within our borders, making it easier for residents and businesses to work and correspond with the Town, providing services to those in need within a fiscal constraint, making sure we continue the relationships we have with our education leaders, faith leaders and business leaders. Bringing everyone to the table for those discussion.

How will these priorities further the long-term sustainability and economic growth of Gilbert and tie into your future vision for Gilbert?

Lynne King Smith

Strong communities are welcoming communities and we still have work to do.

The long-term economic success of our community depends on our willingness to support the small businesses and entrepreneurs who choose Gilbert to do business. That entails building and fostering a strong business support system, while also cultivating a community that people are proud to call home.

I’m prepared to work with our business community, and as your next Gilbert Mayor, will work hard to create a community where all feel welcome to live, work, and play.

Matt Nielsen

Sustainability is the key to our future here in Gilbert. Proper management of financial resources is critical to the long-term success of our town. Residents and businesses are attracted to well-run towns with low taxes and minimal regulations. There are many examples around the country of towns and cities that choose to tax and spend, while growing government. I will consistently guard against this as mayor.

Brigette Peterson

The Vaughn ventilator is vitally important to the continued success of the Heritage District. If we cannot move people and traffic through the district it will be stifled. It has been a focus of mine for a long time and a topic I’ve been discussing for over a decade. With the next big projects about to break ground it is essential.

Businesses want to move to and expand in a community that has a focus on many different aspects. These businesses want a safe and healthy community for their employees, a focus on good education for future workforce and to be part of a community that works with everyone. Businesses tell me all the time how much they appreciate the relationship they have with the Town Staff, Mayor and Council.

If elected as Mayor, who would you consider to be your stakeholders and how would you propose to represent them?

Lynne King Smith

Everyone. There are 260,000 residents in Gilbert, more than 7,500 businesses and 1,100 Town of Gilbert employees. The Mayor represents and serves all them, and, unlike my opponents who are supported by special interests or proclaim themselves as very conservative, I have no interest or intention of narrowing it down to select groups. Being a Mayor is non-partisan and I intend to keep politics OUT of Town Hall.

What I do know is we have people in our community who feel their voices are not heard or represented by our Council, and when I am Mayor, I am determined to change that. I plan to build coalitions and have community-led commissions to bring issues from Gilbert to our officials.

I would also like to see an increase in partnerships between the Town and local, statewide and national non-profit organizations, including faith-based organizations, that way as needs arise we can act quickly to ensure we are in a position to help our neighbors and businesses.

Matt Nielsen

The mayor is elected by and responsible to the residents of the town. All too often, elected officials come to believe they must represent the interests of government. This leads them to make decisions that are harmful to the people who elected them. We can all think of many examples of this. My stakeholders as mayor are the citizens of Gilbert. Your interests are my primary concern.

Brigette Peterson

I believe every resident, business owner, faith group, our 3 school districts, our 2 Universities and every organization that represents them such as the Chamber of Commerce is a stakeholder. Who knows this town better than the people who are living, working and playing here on a daily basis? Nobody! I’ve always been a proponent of stakeholder groups, bringing everyone to the table for discussions. I believe I’ve done a great job already reaching out to all of those groups and look forward to opportunities as Mayor of bringing new people in for discussions.

What experience do you have with complex budgets?

Lynne King Smith

I navigated my company through the last economic recession, all without losing a single employee. This required having tough, reality-based conversations daily.

I started my first company in our garage, and over the next 17 years led its growth until I oversaw the sale of the company, of which I am still part of. I have managed large scale projects, including the BLDG313 project in downtown Gilbert, which is home to Etix, Thrive Coworking and The Brass Tap.

Being able to navigate a complex budget is important, but what is really needed for our community is to communicate our spending and budget process with the residents of Gilbert. We must present a clear vision and provide our residents with as much information as possible to better explain the priorities in our budget.

I have the experience to provide information to the community during the entire budget process, and talk through the difficult, and yes something complex, fiscal matters the Town budget addresses.

Matt Nielsen

Having served on corporate boards as well as in executive leadership positions in the private sector for many years now, I understand financial statements, their purposes, and what they can effectively communicate. My experience as a small business owner, which required careful management of a budget will also help me to act in the best interest of taxpayers.

Brigette Peterson

My experience all comes from being a Gilbert Council member since 2015. As a council member, I have taken part in annual retreats, a full day financial retreat was added over the last couple years and individual one-on-one meetings with the Town’s Budget team to discuss the annual budget. Over those years, I’ve found the best ways to work with the Town Staff and for myself as everyone learns differently.

How would you propose to interact with the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce and how do you see your respective roles on issues that may come to the Town of Gilbert?

Lynne King Smith

The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce is a tremendous asset to the town in providing networking opportunities and driving awareness for workforce programs, and serving as an advocate for businesses in Gilbert.

There is so much opportunity for the Town of Gilbert and the Chamber of Commerce to work together more closely, and this recent public health crisis has made that evident. When I am elected Mayor, I look forward to working closely with the Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders to understand the pain points from their members, and see if there are areas for improvement for those who have a business in or are looking to start their own business in Gilbert.

Additionally, I would like to see our Chamber continue to be more innovative in their approach, and work to support businesses in our community by focusing their efforts in the areas they can best serve their members.

I am a business owner and an advocate for other small business owners and entrepreneurs, and will continue to be a champion for businesses in Gilbert as your next Mayor.

Matt Nielsen

The Chamber of Commerce serves an important role in aiding businesses to start up, grow, and thrive. I welcome the opportunity to work with the Chamber in an effort to facilitate economic growth in Gilbert. The mayor can play an important role in this effort by committing to sound principles of small government and low taxes—policies that will attract growth to the town. I will avoid “picking winners and losers,” through policies and incentives that favor some over others. I will work to remove unnecessary red tape and push the town to remove barriers to growth.

Brigette Peterson

There is going to be a lot of change in Gilbert and the Chamber in 2020 and in 2021. I rely on the Chamber as a stakeholder, that I know always has the discussions about upcoming developments and legislation. I try to attend as many GCOC events as possible including Good Government Series, Ribbon Cuttings, Receptions for different groups such as Tours for Teachers, Gilbert Leadership events and learning days and making myself available to the GCOC President/CEO for regular discussions of what the current issues are.

The Gilbert Chamber's endorsement process was calendared for March and April 2020. To participate, all candidates were invited to return the completed questionnaire by March 1st. Those candidates not listed either declined participation, missed this deadline, OR entered the race after the endorsement process had begun.