Gilbert voters willsee a mayoral runoff between political newcomer Matt Nielsen and former Town Council member Brigette Peterson, based on the latest unofficial results in Tuesday's primary election.
Nielsen pulledslightly ahead of Peterson in the results released on Friday, but neither approached the 50% mark needed to win outright in the primary.
The ballots left to count, fewer than 2,400 countywide, could not boost either candidate enough to avoid arunoff in the Nov. 3 general election.
It wasthe first-time mayoral run for both candidates, as Mayor Jenn Daniels did not seekreelection. Two other contenders, Lynne King Smith and write-in Josh Lipscomb, trailed further back.
Nielsen who ran on a limited-government platform overtook King Smith for the second place spot late onTuesday. By Friday's count, he had shot past Peterson as the top vote-getter.
Gilbert mayoral candidate Brigette Peterson checks results on primary election night.(Photo: Courtesy of Brigette Peterson)
A pleased Nielsen monitored results at home with his family on Tuesday night refreshing the page "every few seconds." As results solidified into Friday, Nielsen said he was excited.
"As afirst-timecandidate in a significant race,mayoralrace, it was exciting," he said.
Nielsen said his hefty votecount was the result of months of hard work and long conversations with Gilbert residents. Nielsen said he had to grow from "a virtual unknown in the community" to someone who could overtake Peterson, a well-known Gilbert council member whom he called the "favorite" to win.
Nielsen said he is ready for 90 days of hard workto carry the race through to a runoff win.
Peterson said she will spend the lead-up to Nov. 3building a "big coalitionthat shows why I'm the tested and proven choice for mayor."
She said she was pleased by the primary results."I think that it shows that people in Gilbert know that my time in leadership matters, and I'm looking forward to competing in November," she said.
Three town council seats were on Tuesday'sballot.
Four candidates competedfor two council seats with the usual four-year terms. Incumbent Scott Anderson and Kathy Tilque held sizable leads over Tyler Hudgins and BusObayomi.
At this point, Anderson and Tilque likelywill win outright.
Laurin Hendrix led over Bill Spence fora council seat that carries a two-year term, according to early ballot returns.If results hold, Hendrix willwin outright.
Thetown's new General Planwas approved by a large margin.
ELECTION RESULTS:See who won in Arizona's August primary election
King Smith, who handily outraised the other mayoral candidates, is the founder of a ticketing software company and co-working space in Gilbert.
She campaigned on providing strong leadership as Gilbert approaches build-out, supporting businesses and building a "Gilbert for all."
Peterson said King Smith did a "great job" in the election.
"I really admire when women step up to run for office. Her team worked hard, and they focused on business, and thats very important, especially in theseCOVID times that were in," Peterson said.
Nielsen, a charter school management executive, is a political newcomer, as is King Smith.
Nielsen is focused on returning government to a more limited role and campaigned on conservative values. He said he wants to maximize individual liberty and minimize government interference.
Peterson resigned from her Town Council seat, as the law requires, to run for mayor. She has said she would bring the necessary experience to the mayoral seat. Her priorities are job growth, public safety and responsible growth.She's an advocate for transportation and planning improvements.
Lipscomb, the write-in candidate, aimedto investin south Gilbert, diversifythe town, expandtwo-lane roads, protectfarmers and increasepublic safety, according to his campaign on Instagram.
Thecandidates in the race for two Town Council seats with full, four-yearterms were:
Tilque, who led the pack in initial results, said she was excited, but waiting eagerly for more of the vote count to roll in.
Tilquesaid she was confident going into theprimary, butdidnt know what to expectgiven how unique campaigning was during the pandemic.She expressed gratitude for her opponents behavior during the race.
In myparticular race, I felt that everybody was runningareally honestrace, talking about their credentials and thequalities that they bring, and there wasnt that negative politicking going on. I was really thankful for that.
Anderson, also in the lead, said he was pleased with the early results and hopedthe race wouldbe decided at the primary, without a November runoff.
The candidates vying for the council seat with a two-year term were:
Have election thoughts fromGilbert? Reach the reporter at Alison.Steinbach@arizonarepublic.com or at 602-444-4282. Follow her on Twitter @alisteinbach.
Support local journalism.Subscribe to azcentral.com today.
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