By Deborah Carl
Conservative Councilman Changing Gilbert, Arizona
GILBERT, ARIZONA -- Conservative Dave Petersen is not what you would
expect in a Gilbert, Arizona town councilman. Bob Hicken, owner of
ArizonaWest Contracting Corp. in Mesa has worked with Petersen on
construction jobs for more than a decade. "Dave is a man of his word,
kind of plain folk, not very fancy, and he talks a little bit slow,"
Hicken said, adding he was surprised when Petersen ran for public
office. "Typically, people who do that kind of thing are more flashy."
But Petersen is a firm believer in less government and lower taxes
and a member of the John Birch Society. Since he took office three
months ago he helped overturn the town's bicycle helmet law, put the
repeal of the pool fence law on the ballot for Nov. 7, and got the
council to reduce the municipal property tax.
"It shows you that one person can make a difference," said Petersen,
44, who is considering political assaults on voter-approved
fluoridation of the town water supply and on a town law banning
smoking in public places. Petersen and his wife, Tawna, both members
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have been active
Birchers for most of their 23-year marriage.
But Dan Pottenger, who fought for fluoride, says Petersen's brand of
conservatism is hurting the town. Pottenger is considering a recall
drive against Petersen if he continues to kill laws passed by the
previous council. Pottenger said there is growing resentment in town
over what he said is Petersen's lack of respect for others' views.
"He has the attitude that any law that restricts our freedom is
wrong, and he sees what he is doing as fulfillment of God's wishes.
You can't reason with someone like that."
Birch Society councilman remakes Gilbert
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 17Sep01 T2
By Edythe Jensen: The Arizona Republic