By Srianthi Perera
A new year has begun, and Gilbert Mayor Jenn Daniels—who herself is new to the position—is continuing with established tradition to recap last year’s happenings and preview the next for the town’s residents and well-wishers.
The 2017 Digital State of the Town will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 24 at Harkins SanTan Village 16 in Gilbert. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the program begins at 6 p.m.
Since 2013, Gilbert has hosted a digital state of the town. The annual 20-minute documentary-style video production highlights the accomplishments of the town during each year, and feature the mayor, council members, town staffers and local business leaders. It also looks to the future.
The 2017 theme is “#chooseGilbert.”
“This year’s theme is specifically inspired by the Choose Your Adventure book series,” Daniels said. “The video focusses on all the choices that people and businesses have made as they decided to choose Gilbert.”
Part of the video is a business update that will feature aerospace leader Orbital ATK, weight-loss product company Isagenix and similar other visionary companies that have chosen to locate in the town.
“I would encourage everybody to use the #chooseGilbert as we highlight great things,” the mayor said.
The town recently received an upgraded AAA bond rating from Moody’s Investor’s Service, and joined an elite group of cities—including Scottsdale and Chandler—which have the same coveted rating.
In addition, Gilbert has a well-educated workforce and recent economic development that includes the plethora of upmarket restaurants that has established, or have plans to build, in the Heritage District.
“We have a lot to be proud of. We’ve got a growing business industry, we are proud of the quality of our community. Our residents love the quality of life they have here and are looking for opportunities to engage and we need the public’s help as we continue to plan out for the final buildout of Gilbert,” Daniels said.
Daniels was a town councilmember for seven years during former Gilbert Mayor John Lewis’s tenure. When Lewis resigned last July before his term ended to take up a new assignment, Daniels stepped up to finish the final six months of his term. Thereafter, she ran uncontested in the primary elections on Aug. 30 and began her first full term in January.
She said that seeing Gilbert from an “up close and personal perspective” as well as from “a regional perspective” has been helpful in her new role.
“We have so much to be proud of in Gilbert, but we have challenges to overcome. We’re going to work hand in hand with our community leaders and staff and our residents to find solutions to those problems,” she said.
Managing growth is at the top of the list, the Mayor said, referring to it as “a fantastic problem to have because people want to be here. Managing growth is definitely something that’s a challenge to any community. Just ensuring that we’re always providing high quality services at the lowest possible cost to our residents: we work hard to do that every day,” she said.
Other challenges are related to transportation and infrastructure.
“We’ve had several sewer and water main breaks; we have a CIP project that’s in the works to make sure that we address that challenge and make sure that the quality of our infrastructure reflects the quality of our community,” she also said.
Daniels receives help and encouragement from her spouse, Eric, who works in medical sales, and support from her four children, Ethan, 13, Drew, 11, Ty, 9, and Kate, 5, “who know that they have a role to play as well,” Daniel said.
The children sometimes attend council meetings – just the ones that don’t go on until the wee hours — and to the larger community events.
“They participate in the parade and we give them assignments to contribute and help in lots of different ways. They rise to the task; they like being part of Gilbert,” she added. “It’s definitely a family interest and there’s definitely a family contribution.”
For details of the Digital State of the Town, visit gilbertaz.gov/departments/town-hall/state-of-the-town. After Jan. 24th, the video will be posted here.