Gilbert leaders split on role of government

By Parker Leavitt

The Arizona Republic

As Gilbert residents gather at Town Hall on Saturday for perhaps the nation’s largest celebration of the U.S. Constitution, an ongoing Town Council debate over the proper role of government has brought into focus varying ideologies on how the town should be run.

Council members’ ideological differences have resulted in several split votes in recent months and have played a role in the group’s decision-making process related to non-profit support and accepting federal grants.

In general, council members are united in their desire to “provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare of our community,” Mayor John Lewis said.

Although core municipal services, such as public safety, water delivery and trash collection, are common points of agreement on the council, the conversation has waxed more philosophical when it comes to funding other government programs, such as charitable grants.

For many years, Gilbert has dedicated a small portion of general-fund money, less than 1 percent of the budget, to support local charities in their efforts to prevent homelessness, feed the hungry and run youth programs.

According to Councilman Victor Petersen, who has the support of a few other council members, those non-profit grants are a primary example of government overstepping its mission.




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September 2012