Legislative District 14

The Gilbert Chamber of Commerce is invested in educating its membership on the candidates who will best represent the interests of the business community while serving in office. As such, we invited all candidates to respond to both a written questionnaire and video responses on topics which most impact our businesses.

In the coming weeks, responses to both video and written questions, as well as consideration for each candidate's demonstrated actions, will be scored to issue a letter grade for each candidate. Scoring is conducted by members of the Board of Directors and Public Policy Committee.

When it comes to business issues, how do you rate the candidates? Click here to download a scoring worksheet for LD 14 candidates.

The following candidates did not participate in written responses:

Senate

  • Warren Petersen

House

  • Laurin Hendrix
  • Travis Grantham
  • Brandy Reese

Natalie DiBernardo (House)

About The Candidate

  • Community of Residence: Southeast Gilbert
  • How many years have you lived in this community: 15 years
  • Name of Employer: Self-employed , Home Centric Real Estate
  • Occupation or Title: Realtor, small business startup consultant
  • Campaign website or social media account: www.natalieforaz.com,
    • Instagram, Facebook are NatalieforAZ
  • Brief Summary of Employment History:
    • Realtor for 17 years
    • Business Startup consultant - Lynelle Group – 4 years

Questionnaire Responses

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


I am a fourth generation Arizona native who has had the privilege of witnessing many of Arizona’s triumphs and challenges. I have raised my children in Gilbert, started businesses in the East Valley, and buried my loved ones in this soil. I am deeply and forever rooted in Arizona. I have a profound love and sense of duty in my heart for my home state and have an invested interested in making sure that Arizona is preserved and protected. We have had immense growth over the last few decades and although I believe that growth is ultimately beneficial for Arizona, I also believe that Arizona must be responsible and ensure that our infrastructure can handle the burden we have asked it to bare. We must also fight to protect the values and political policies that have made Arizona such a desirable place to live, raise families and grow businesses. My intimate connection and knowledge of Arizona’s community sets me apart from other candidates.

My parents were local pastors for 40 years and I was raised in a home that taught me to be a servant to my community. I have served, volunteered, and connected with my community for my entire life. My volunteer history is filled with victim's advocacy, Trauma and mental health awareness work, working with underprivileged and foster children as well as organizations that fight homelessness and hunger. My skills as a community advocate have given me incredible insight into how our policies affect children, families and communities. I believe that protecting the welfare of families, children and people in the community must be a top priority of any local authority as healthy communities equate to thriving communities.

I have been a successful businesswoman in the East Valley for the last 17 years. In addition to starting my own business I have helped mentor and assist several small business startups and have an in-depth knowledge of the small business community. I have been able to budget, fundraise, and structure small businesses in industrial technology and manufacturing fields as well as businesses that provide direct services to end users. Arizona has 550,000 small businesses that keep our economy running and healthy. The skills I have learned in business and community involvement have given me unique skills to understand the economy that has driven so many business owners to Arizona. Our prosperity depends on businesses that thrive, and its vital that our legislature ensures that businesses have freedom from excessive regulations that discourage innovation and stymies growth.

My ability to take the data driven solutions of the business world and combine that with my extensive knowledge of community needs and wants gives me a unique advantage to make data driven decisions that positively bring change to our daily lives and futures.

2. What is your vision for have the highest hope and aspirations for the future of Arizona.? -

I see Arizona as a strong leader among states that champions policies that will protect the individual rights of citizens, business owners, and families. Arizonans want a world class educational system for their children that makes room for parents to have choices and input. I foresee Arizona making strides in our educational policies and fine-tuning school funding by structuring funding to the student rather than the system. I believe Arizona will have a bright economic future as we continue to promote business growth through legislation that encourages businesses to operate without burdensome regulations that are overreaching and excessive. Arizona will continue to be a destination for high wage, high tech industries and startups due to its conservatively lead and low tax policies. I anticipate Arizona remaining a leader in the United States for jobs, businesses and growth. In that growth I believe Arizona will be a good steward of its rich natural beauty and resources by enacting innovative strategies to ensure our water supplies are not depleted. Arizona will find ways to utilize new technologies and approaches to ensure Arizona infrastructure is sustainable, safe and dependable for generations to come.

3. What are the top three (3) priorities you would like to see accomplished during your term as a member of the legislature and why do you believe these are important to accomplish?

The top three priorities I would like to accomplish during my term, if elected, are to have increased border security, innovative and sustainable water management solutions and education reform.

The situation at the border is dire and dangerous for Americans and Mexicans. According to the DEA “more than 90% of the fentanyl on U.S. streets crosses the Mexican border". Drug Cartels and human traffickers are terrorizing communities, and it is time they are labeled as the terrorist they are. The federal government has refused to enforce their own laws and Arizona elected officials in Arizona must act urgently to protect our borders and increase border security to ensure safety for all people.

Arizona is facing critical water supply issues. Lake Mead, where we store 40% of our water, is being drained faster than it can be replenished. Projections show that if no actions are taken Lake Mead could reach a critical level within the next few years and would have a devastating impact on Arizona’s communities, agriculture, environment, and economy. Arizona has innovative water management, conservation, efficiency, and reuse in the short-term. In the long-term Arizona must look at innovative collaboration with neighboring states and countries in efforts to establish desalination plants that benefit Arizona.
As a parent, I have firsthand experience with our public, private and charter school systems. My children have attended all types of these schools until we found the right school for my children. I am a firm believer that parents should have the freedom to make decisions regarding their children and their Childrens' education. It was my own parents who taught me this principal when my mom chose to homeschool me for a few l years in grade school due to our district's shortcomings. I am a firm believer in school choice but understand that those choices have had unintended consequences on our public schools. I believe that teachers and students should have the funding they need to obtain a quality education and schools should be a safe place for all children. I would like to see our schools produce educated and resilient young people that are able to use their skills not only educationally but in their daily lives. The education system in Arizona needs an ambitious overhaul and a plan that works for every student and school type.

4. What do you believe is the preferred way to accomplish funding for education (at all levels) and what should the role of the State be in that funding?

The means of fundings all levels of education In Arizona is straight forward but, I believe, the management of those funds is where a substantial portion of the issues. We currently have a system where there is too much bureaucracy and so many hands are on the money that is allocated to our children that by the time our students see funding it has whittled down to half of its’ value. We are paying a premium to administers and bureaucrats to pass that money through the system and it is leaving the leftovers for the students and teachers. One way to ensure students and teachers see more of the money already collected for them is to trim the multiple levels of management and administrative oversight that are currently in place. The state needs to amend its 35-year-old school-funding formula was created before charter schools and other school choice options were part of the equation so that we have a more comprehensive plan for our schools and their funding.

5. How would you propose to address health care costs and affordability in Arizona?

Arizonan's deserve quality health care coverage that is affordable and accessible regardless of pre-existing health conditions. We need to protect Arizonans from being forced into government run health care plans that eliminate options and tailored health care choices. As a self-employed, small business owner I have been personally affected by this issue. High costs health care employer plans make it difficult for small businesses to compete with the compensation packages that big businesses offer employees making it harder for small businesses to offer competitive compensation to employees. Although there is no simple solution for this issue, I do believe we can make changes to bring costs down. Insurance companies should allow states, small businesses, associations, and other organizations to band together and offer health insurance at lower costs to their employees and members. We can implement comprehensive medical liability reform that will reduce costly, unnecessary defensive medicine practiced by practitioners trying to protect themselves from unjustified lawsuits. Taxpayers should be able to participate in pretax medical savings and spending accounts to cover their health care costs across the board. Lastly, we must protect the doctor-patient relationship and ensure that medical decisions are made by patients and their doctors, not government bureaucrats. Most importantly we can drive health care costs down by focusing on improving the lives of all Arizonans through effective prevention, wellness, and disease management programs.

6. If elected to represent this legislative district, who would you consider to be your stakeholders and how would you propose to represent them?

If elected, I consider my stakeholders to be the entire population of citizens. Every single person, of every age is affected by our state’s legislation. I have a duty and responsibility to the voters who voted for me to represent the ideals that they hold true as they voted for me knowing my values are in alignment with theirs and they trusted me to represent those values in the legislature.

7. What experience do you have with complex budgets

As an entrepreneur I have experience with budget management. I have had to prepare and analyze budgets as well as forecast financial revenue based on how a business will perform in the future. I have established standards and procedures to guide the company members on where and how to spend according to their individualized budgets and monitored spending patterns to measure and assure adherence to budget guidelines. I analyzed and approved strategic growth plans with external stakeholders and prepared reporting and explanation of internal budget decisions with those external stakeholders.

8. 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 before the State Legislature?

I picture myself being involved with the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce by making sure that I am pushing for legislation that enables businesses to thrive and empowering the workforce to become more skilled. I believe, it is a legislature’s role to create the legal framework that promotes a healthy governmental system. That healthy system should promote transparency, encourage the development and Maintenance of infrastructure, and support education efforts and have energy policy that encourage renewable energies without placing mandates or burdens on citizens and businesses.

9. What are your thoughts on repealing the State Statute that requires legislative approval for Maricopa County transportation spending?

I agree with the repeal as I believe we should remove the bureaucratic barriers between citizens and their right to exercise their democratic process. Maricopa county is the only county in the state that requires legislative approval to propose transportation funding to voters. No one wants to increase our spending, but Maricopa County has experienced record growth and that growth has put a tremendous demand on our current transportation infrastructure. Voters deserve a voice to say how their tax dollars are spent and if the expense is worth it to them.

10. What role does the legislature have regarding future public health emergencies and the impact on the business community?

The government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has raised a lot of concerns about the governments invasive and overreaching power regarding issuing public health statues. Mask mandates, stay at home orders, and business shutdowns devastated many small businesses and directly affected individuals' ability to put food on their tables. The Public Health Code of Ethics states “when a public authority requires induvial and communities to contribute to or participate in an important communal undertaking, it is incumbent on that authority to provide the means necessary to ensure that such contributions are not unduly or unreasonably burdensome.” The pandemic public health policies were unreasonably burdensome on all businesses, schools, and families. Workers were unable to earn a living wage, many had to rely on public assistance or find other means of employment and the public health authorities failed to provide burden of proof that their burdensome policies were effective in curbing outbreak of illness. Parents were unable to send their kids to school and daycares making it impossible for them to work even if their company adjusted for allowing employees to work remotely. Our recovery now has seen further complications with the rising minimum wage and lack of staffing, but we are fortunate that in Arizona we have a legislature that agreed that the pandemic health emergency protocols were burdensome. Their action to remove COVID public health mandates was instrumental in Arizona’s journey to begin economic recovery.

11. What are specific issues where you envision yourself working with differing members of your own party or across the aisle?

I am deeply passionate about victim’s advocacy and public safety. It is my hope, that if elected, I can work across the aisle to find missing holes in our system where victims are not being fully protected. Our laws have not caught up with technology in a lot of regards. The creation and distribution of child sexual abuse material has become one of the fastest growing illicit online industries in the United States. Perpetrators are becoming increasingly sophisticated and hiding in the shadows behind cutting-edge technology making it difficult for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these crimes. I believe, it is our duty to protect victims and to place the law in their favor. We need to ensure that our laws are adjusting and adapting with technology. It is going to take a joint effort between all parties to make sure that our most vulnerable populations stay safe and protected.

12. Do you have any final comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

Suzanne Lunt (House)

​About The Candidate

  • Email: luntforhouse@gmail.com
  • Community of Residence: Gilbert, AZ
  • How many years have you lived in this community? 30 years
  • Name of Employer: Gilbert Public Schools
  • Occupation or Title: Instructional Coach
  • Website: https://www.luntforazhouse.com/
    Instagram: @luntforhouse FB: @luntforhouse
  • Employment History:
    • Instructional Coach @ Playa del Rey (2021-2022),
    • Kindergarten Teacher @ Val Vista Lakes Elementary (2011-20),
    • Private Preschool Teacher (1991-2011),
    • Mesa Public School Teacher (1988-1990)
  • Educational Background:
    • Bachelor's Degree Arizona State University; Early Childhood Education 1987,
    • Master’s Degree Arizona State University; Elementary Education 1992,
    • continuing education and professional growth classes 1992-present
  • Community Organizations:
    • Gilbert Sister Cities
    • HD South
    • Town of Gilbert Community Engagement Task Force
    • Church Choir ( Choir Director)

Questionnaire Responses

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

(1)solutions-oriented leader; (2) compassion for the vulnerable; and (3) strong sense of character and integrity.

Solutions-Oriented leader. When there are issues, I am not a person who complains, but asks, “what can be done? How can I make a difference?” With this attitude, I am ready to work with constituents, leaders and colleagues to make real change. We can find solutions together.

Compassion. I am passionate about making Arizona a better place for those who are most vulnerable. That means I will be persistent in making choices that positively affect children, women, victims of violence, racial minorities, and LBGTQ+.

Integrity. With integrity, I make choices that may not always be popular, but that are morally responsible and fair. Principle-based leadership will benefit and give opportunity to all stakeholders in LD14,

2. What is your vision for the state of Arizona in the next 20 to 30 years?

I see a wonderful future for the State of Arizona. In 20 - 30 years, I envision Arizona having a sustainable financial outlook with reserves for emergencies. This can be done while also fully investing in our public schools. Water concerns are alleviated by having water conservation methods in place, along with plans for managing our natural resources. I foresee having a secure border, while welcoming immigrants who take legal steps to enter our state. Overall, I’m optimistic about what Arizona can offer future generations.

3. What are the top three (3) priorities you would like to see accomplished during your term as a member of the legislature and why do you believe these are important to accomplish?

Education, economic development, and environmental resource management (especially water) are the issues that will be my priority as I serve. Being a teacher, I am passionate about supporting public schools. The vast majority of students in Arizona choose public schools. Unlike other educational options, public schools must provide education for all students, regardless of disability or family support. In order to create sustainability in our state, funding needs to be equitable in order for school choice to thrive.

Economic development is another crucial area of focus to keep our state thriving. Besides enticing small and big businesses to Arizona, we can improve our economy by supporting women in the workforce. Everyone benefits as women build businesses, create jobs, and provide better futures for their families. Family-focused employment benefits, like affordable child-care and family and medical leave, will make families and our state stronger.

Protecting our greatest water supply, the Colorado river and ground water, is essential if we are to sustain life in our desert area. Let’s focus on smart water policy to protect our clean water supplies for today and the future. Water conservation must go hand-in-hand with development.

4. What do you believe is the preferred way to accomplish funding for education (at all levels) and what should the role of the State be in that funding?

It is the state's responsibility to provide funding for education. As a fiscal conservation, I am not in favor of increasing taxes. We need a fair and simple revenue stream to ensure everyone pays their fair share. Given the current surplus, I recommend using a portion to give our schools a healthier financial outlook. We want Arizona to ensure our schools meet the needs of all children. They must be funded appropriately.

5. How would you propose to address health care costs and affordability in Arizona?

Arizonans, like any American, should have access to health care. This is especially true of our vulnerable or marginalized populations who often need emergency services and maternal care. As a community, we can do better. I also want to find ways to help small businesses in Arizona provide affordable health care for their employees. It also makes smart economic sense to improve preventative care. For a small investment, we can prevent bigger, more expensive health issues from occurring. Another key issue is how to protect against extortion for necessary prescription drugs like insulin. Finally, we can do more to improve the availability of health care for our veteran populations, rural communities, and tribal nations using recent advances in medical technology.

6. If elected to represent this legislative district, who would you consider to be your stakeholders and how would you propose to represent them?

All citizens; business owners, education leaders, and members of every political party within LD14 are the stakeholders. I want to listen to all that I represent. I will take into consideration the concerns of all. I plan to follow the example of Becky Edwards, who is running for US Senate in Utah. She served for years in the state legislature. As she did, she hosted meet and greet meetings in her home on Saturday mornings. She made it possible to meet face to face and hear the concerns of those that she represented. I hope to follow in her footsteps and be sensitive to all those that I represent.

7. What experience do you have with complex budgets?

In my volunteer role as president of Gilbert Sister Cities, we maintained a budget, where decisions were made so that we could fund our events and expenses, as we used our limited funding resources. For over 20 years, we used a wide variety of means to fund experiences for Gilbert youth to travel internationally to China and Ireland. The key lesson is that all budgets have one essential principle: spend less that you earn.

8. 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 before the State Legislature?

I am eager to work with the Gilbert Chamber of Commerce! I will listen to ideas, problems and ideas for solutions from our business leaders. With the new LD14 district, most of my constituents will be in the Gilbert boundaries. As we work together to promote business opportunities in Gilbert, we make our community stronger, safer, and desirable.

9. What are your thoughts on repealing the State Statute that requires legislative approval for Maricopa County transportation spending?

I support repealing the State Statute that requires approval from the State Legislature for Maricopa County transportation spending. The 20 year ½ cent tax which pays for road construction and upkeep will soon expire. All other counties have the ability to get transportation tax proposals on the ballot without seeking permission from the legislature. Maricopa County should have the same opportunity.

10. What role does the legislature have regarding future public health emergencies and the impact on the business community?

In past public health emergencies, our legislature has had a limited role in directing what protocols take place for businesses during a crisis. The governor plays a leading role using the authority and resources of the executive branch when there is an emergency. In the future, the legislature could take a proactive role in preventing mass shut-downs of business. Legislation should be passed that outlines exactly what happens for the good of personal and business health in our state.

11. What are specific issues where you envision yourself working with differing members of your own party or across the aisle?

I look forward to working with members across the aisle on almost every issue. It will be important to work together on election integrity, water issues and the environment, and a secure border. But the issue that comes to mind first is that of funding for public education. My own party has championed the idea of school choice for all. While I support school choice, I also understand that our public schools educate the vast majority of students of all backgrounds and abilities. It is vital that we give public schools the funding that they need to be successful with all students. This includes the important task of retaining teachers by giving them respectful competitive salaries.

12. Do you have any final comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

I am eager to represent LD14 as I take a civil and collaborative approach to legislating. I will listen to and learn from stakeholders, look for solutions, and work to make change.

Video Responses

The following candidates did not participate in video responses:

Senate

  • Warren Petersen

House

  • Laurin Hendrix
  • Travis Grantham
  • Brandy Reese
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