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Posted 29 Sep 2001   For week ended September 21, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 24Sep01

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


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