Candidates for Mayor

Basic Information

Gary Livacari

Community of Residence: Ashley Heights


Occupation: Corporate and commercial banker

Education Background:

I graduated from The George Washington University in Washington, DC in 2007 with a B.A.

summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in Political Communication and minor in Economics. I finished in the top 5% of my graduating class with a 3.88 G.P.A.

After graduation in June 2007, I enlisted in the United States Army and completed Basic Combat Training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in September 2007. I joined the Army because I believed strongly in America’s mission in the War on Terror and the need for citizens to make sacrifices for the good of their fellow countrymen. I completed Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Eustis, VA in October 2008 and was assigned to Reserve status.

In fall 2007, I enrolled at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and graduated with a Masters Public Policy in 2009.

In May 2018, I completed a two-year catechetical training program at the Kino Institute at the Diocese of Phoenix. I earned certification as a Catholic catechist and parish leader.

Brief summary of employment history:

My current profession as a corporate and commercial banker began in July 2010 at PNC Bank Corporate and Institutional Banking. After a one-year training period, I was promoted to Assistant Vice President of Public Finance in December 2011 based in Chicago. I was responsible for building PNC’s Corporate and Institutional banking business in its newly acquired Illinois and Wisconsin markets. I structured, sold and executed direct loans, letters of credit, capital markets and derivatives solutions with transaction sizes of $30MM - $200MM for large government, higher education and non-profit clients. In this capacity, I directly interfaced with key financial decision-makers at large government and higher education institutions across the Midwest. Specifically, I was instrumental in executing PNC’s first, significant credit transactions in Wisconsin with the State of Wisconsin, City of Milwaukee and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. I also sold and structured the Bank’s first multi-million dollar direct purchase bond deal with the County of DuPage, IL, the second largest county in the State of Illinois.

In March 2014, I joined a major regional bank and subsidiary of a global European bank as a Vice President in Religious Institution Banking. I am responsible for managing banking relationships for churches and faith-based universities, K-12 schools and non-profit organizations throughout the United States.

My first professional role was as Policy Planner at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Pittsburgh District) from 2009 - 2010 where I worked on the senior staff for the District Commander. In this role, I was responsible for identifying and developing new business opportunities by marketing the Army Corps’ civil engineering programs to municipal governments and state agencies. I created the District’s long-term interagency business growth plan that was successfully implemented in 2010. I also spoke effectively before and established partnership with several local government and state agency actors to explain the Army Corps' complex legislative authorities and programmatic capabilities. For my efforts, District Commander Colonel Michael Crall awarded me the “Commander’s Award for Civilian Service” and designation as “Ambassador of the Year” for outstanding efforts to enhance the reputation and image of the Army Corps of Engineers.

List of community organizations you belong to:

- Town of Gilbert, Industrial Development Authority, Secretary

- St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, Pastoral Council, Member

- Knights of Columbus, 4th Degree, St. Mary Magdalene Council

- Gilbert American Little League, volunteer coach in 2015, 2017 and 2018 fall seasons

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

- Approximately 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.

Gary Livacari

1) Financial Expertise with Municipal Finance Specialty

I am a Vice President in commercial banking at a major international bank. I specialize in structuring debt for megachurches, colleges and universities, large non-profits and large governments.

As a corporate banker at PNC Bank in Chicago (PNC is one of the top 5 largest banks in the U.S. by asset size) from 2010-2014, I managed complex, multi-million dollar credit and capital markets transactions for large government clients, including the State of Wisconsin, City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, City of Chicago and the County of DuPage, IL which is one of Chicagoland’s largest counties. I was responsible for analyzing the financial conditions at numerous governmental entities, and then explaining those conditions and making debt structuring recommendations to senior decision-making executives at the Bank.

I was the “face of the Bank” in delivering consultative presentations to elected officials and key decision-makers at state, county and city/town clients, and negotiating credit transactions involving the Bank, municipal clients and attorneys.

These experiences required me to develop deep familiarity with government financial practices and reporting. They gave me a ready aptitude to digest government financial statements and budgets, and to make intelligent, actionable and defensible recommendations derived from analytical assessments of the data.

As Gilbert‘s population grows, our operating budgets will continue to increase and become more complex. We need elected local officials who are comfortable with public finance analysis.

How can our Town Council members provide an independent check on our Town bureaucracy if these members are not proficient with government financial statement analysis? Will they ask the right questions and make the right challenges, or will they simply rubber stamp the position of the Civic Center? I think our homeowners and business owners deserve a watchdog who will contribute to the furtherance of financial accountability in Gilbert. I think accountability starts with elected officials being able to competently digest, analyze and draw conclusions from financial data that is provided by Town staff.

I can be an effective watchdog for the taxpayers and business owners of this Town because I have proven capability in reading and making sense of government financial reporting. I know how to spot problematic financial trends that could materialize into serious predicaments later on.

I will not be afraid to dig into the data and challenge conventional assumptions to ensure that our Town’s fiscal operations remain on a sustainable trajectory and that our budget decisions do not adversely impact economic growth and opportunity in Gilbert. This is the skill set that our Town needs from its Mayor and I am the only candidate who has this experience.

2) Proven Leader

As the lead banker, I am the quarterback of the deal team. I am required to take the lead in coordinating, organizing and orienting the various internal team members to focus them on the goal of closing the deal. I know how to work within the internal bureaucracy of a bank to produce an outcome and deliver results.

The ability to organize and lead a team toward accomplishment in a high-stakes, competitive environment is an important qualification for our next Mayor. The Mayor must have the ability and the energy to coalesce disparate stakeholders - elected officials, Town staff, industry leaders and citizens - into a unified coalition that can work together toward the attainment of objectives that benefit our entire community. I can do this because I have effectively organized diverse actors to achieve goals in my corporate banking career.

My leadership ability is further evident in my service as a commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserves from 2007-2013. I am also currently a member of the St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church Pastoral Council. In this capacity, I provide advice and guidance to the pastoral leadership of the parish

3) Husband and father of five children

We can have the best restaurants and the coolest amenities, but none of this will be sufficient to attract and retain young families if such families do not see Gilbert as a place that offers sustainable housing with decent backyard spaces, and affordable cost of living and fulfilling community.

I am 34 years old and a husband and father of five children. I understand the outlook of the young families we must continually attract to Gilbert, because I am myself the head of a young family. I am navigating many of the uncertainties that are confronting the middle-class Millennial generation and I can be a voice for addressing these concerns on the Town Council so that our public policy fosters conditions that are conducive for families to survive and thrive.

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?

Gary Livacari

My deep hope is that Gilbert remains a Town that is hospitable for the flourishing of the family and small, local businesses. In 20-30 years, I hope we see a Gilbert that has maintained its small town character and the spirit of family friendliness that made it the gem of the East Valley in the first place. My hope is that Gilbert has not commercialized every remaining parcel of developable land, and that it has preserved a meaningful portion of its agricultural, open and vacant spaces so that the families of the future can live well and enjoy the beauty of our Sonoran surroundings. My hope is that our leaders have not facilitated the overpacking of this Town by overpromoted and over stimulating high density housing, and that we have strived as much as legally and constitutionally possible to foster low density, single family communities that consist of homes that are built to last 30 or more years and that offer young families a real backyard and an affordable entry point into the American Dream.

I also envision a Town where families, friends and neighbors are active in civic volunteerism and in their churches and schools, a community where people are present to each other and genuinely care about the well-being of others and the common good. I envision a Town where people spend more time on their front porch and at little league games and bowling leagues then on their iPhones or NetFlix. Much of this vision cannot be achieved by local government policy. Nonetheless, I think initiatives like the Smart City will make it harder to rejuvenate a real sense of community and neighborhood in our Town.

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?

Gary Livacari

1) Slow the growth of General Fund operating expenditures

The Town’s General Fund operating expenditures have been rising too quickly. I will work with our Town staff and fellow Council members to slow the rate of annual General Fund spending growth as well as capital improvement spending.

I will also strive to allocate any year-over-year increases in the General Fund operating budget to police officer pay raises and more tactical training/shooter response capability. I believe public safety is a core function of local government and it should be prioritized (particularly in the era of the active shooter). We should expect that Gilbert police officers will find themselves on the front lines of a mass shooting incident and we must give them the necessary financial and training tools (including higher pay and uniform allowances) and organizational orientation so that they are ready to respond and can protect the lives of innocent Gilbert citizens when/if such dangers materialize.

Gilbert citizens and Town government officials must recognize that our officers are faced with more risk and charged with more responsibility than any other public sector employee. They should be compensated accordingly.

2) Stop the overdensification of Gilbert

An important step in checking outsized General Fund spending and the need for big capital improvement expenditures (including the proposed $465 million general obligation bond) is to stop the overdensification of Gilbert. I think our Town is becoming too crowded and too commercialized. I think urbanization is contributing to - and will contribute to - more congestion, more crime, more public expenditures and higher taxes that will make Gilbert unaffordable and unattractive to both prospective and current residents.

As Mayor, I will protect the property rights of Gilbert homeowners by voting against any zoning recommendations that would overdensify existing single-family neighborhoods. I will adopt a balanced approach to future land use by trying to protect existing vacant and open lands from high density development.

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?

Gary Livacari

The health of our local economy depends on the health of the families who live and operate in that economy. I believe that our business community will attain lasting viability only if families can build homes - and lives - that are sustainable and prosperous.

Urbanization is not good for Gilbert’s long-term economic sustainability, because it will eventually make Gilbert overcrowded, overtaxed and unaffordable for middle-class families, the primary customers for goods and services sold by our businesses.

A sustainable future for Gilbert is one that preserves the quality of life for the people who already call Gilbert home, and that makes Gilbert accessible to the middle-class families of the future. Sustainable economic growth in Gilbert requires us to first rekindle and reinvigorate the unique community qualities - low density single family neighborhoods with low crime, low congestion and a manageable cost of living - that made Gilbert a special place to begin with. If these factors change due to increased urbanization and/or runaway Town government spending and/or rising violence, then Gilbert will not enjoy long-run economic prosperity. Middle-class families will leave our Town and new people will not want to locate here. We will be left with high costs, high taxes, high traffic, high crime and the pressure to expand subsidized housing.

My priorities refocus our Town on preserving and strengthening the qualities that once distinguished Gilbert as a special community. They will keep our government expenditures in a responsible range while re-deploying public spending on essential service areas like public safety. They will ensure that our Town does not lose its rural and family-first identity and become a crowded urban center whose economic underpinnings are uncertain.

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?

Gary Livacari

The primary stakeholders for any elected official ought to be the people who have elected the person to hold public office. In Gilbert, this includes the homeowners, renters, and business owners of our Town.

I think the best way to represent these stakeholders is to be personally available to them.

As Mayor, I pledge that every constituent in Gilbert will have easy and unmediated access to me through standing, daily office hours and a publically available direct phone/texting line. I think we need local leaders who are less interested in participating in the political limelight and receiving social media attention, and more interested in doing the out-of-sight and “behind-the-scenes” work to address the needs and concerns of their constituents.

We need elected officials who will listen to and act on the unvarnished opinions of the people, even when those opinions do not align with conventional thinking at the Civic Center.

The people of Gilbert need more opportunities to genuinely engage with their elected officials. Staged events and professionally packaged social media interactions are not the best forums for facilitating honest feedback from citizens.

Our elected officials must be willing to enter into the daily lives of their constituents and work alongside their constituents, even when the cameras are not rolling.

I am a hard worker who has a heart for the situations and needs of all peoples, even people who harbor different policy opinions then I do. I have the drive and the skill set to solve complex public policy problems. I intend to make myself available to receive honest opinions from citizens and then to go to work - by collaborating with Town staff and fellow Council members - to wholeheartedly enact the business of the people.

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?

Gary Livacari

I am skilled in analyzing and making judgments about financial statements and budgets for large government, higher education and non-profit organizations.

An essential, foundational skill for any corporate banker is the ability to quickly make sense of sometimes voluminous historical and projected financial data and intelligently interpret summary metrics to make consequential debt structuring decisions.

My family's livelihood has required me to acquire and polish this skill throughout my nearly 10-year career in corporate and commercial banking. In my role, I am expected - on a daily basis - to speedily and accurately comprehend the financial statements and budgets of diverse institutions. I receive financial statements from current and prospective clients, and then decipher the financial condition and health of the entity based on quantitative analysis of the information. My skills have been tested. Senior managers have relied on my insights in making multi-million dollar lending decisions, and clients have responded to my findings when executing operational restructurings and evaluating capital investment plans. Proficiency with financial statements and budgets is one of my core professional competencies and I am ready to deploy this skill for the benefit of the people of Gilbert.

I am also a graduate of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy where I received a Masters Public Policy in 2009. My academic training focused on developing quantitative tools and methods for utilization in the creation and assessment of public policy. My training includes the completion of advanced coursework in cost-benefit analysis, econometrics, public program evaluation, organizational management and budgeting and accounting for the public sector.

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?

Gary Livacari

I view the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce as a forum and a voice for the hardworking business owners of our Town. I intend to interact with the Chamber in the same way I would interact with a small business owner. I will make myself available and accessible to the Chamber and its members, and I will always treat its perspective on public policy matters with high regard and respect. I would approach our relationship as a collaborative partnership wherein we are in regular, meaningful dialogue about how to continually implement policy improvements so as to make Gilbert an even more fertile environment for business development and family flourishing. The Chamber should be the "eyes and ears" of our business community. As Mayor, I will listen to the voice of the Chamber because I believe it reflects the voice of the merchants who create opportunity for our people.

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.