Candidates for Mayor

The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Brigette Peterson.

Town of Gilbert Mayoral Candidate Forum

Basic Information

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 - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

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.

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 - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

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?

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 - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

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?

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 - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

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?

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 - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

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?

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 - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

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?

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 - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

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?

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 - *Endorsed by the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce*

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.