With all the pre-election hype about possible violence at polling stations for Tuesday’s primary election, the most serious election day misconduct appears to have been a town councilman removing opposition campaign signs.
AZ Free News has confirmed that current Gilbert councilman Scott September is the subject of a criminal investigation initiated Tuesday when a Gilbert police officer was dispatched to the Southeast Regional Library off South Greenfield Road and East Guadalupe Road for a report of a man pulling up campaign signs.
In Arizona, it is a Class 2 misdemeanor for an unauthorized person to “knowingly remove, alter, deface or cover any political sign of any candidate for public office” in the days leading up to an election unless the sign’s location “is hazardous to public safety, obstructs clear vision in the area. or interferes with” the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or is otherwise in violation of state law.
September has been a councilman since April 2020 and was seeking to remain in office on this year’s primary election ballot.
According to public records, September was at the library which serves as a Maricopa County voting center on Tuesday morning when at least two witnesses say they saw him pulling up campaign signs which opposed his election.
Andrew Adams, the Republican chairman of Legislative District 14, had reportedly placed some of the campaign signs near the library property but well outside the mandated 75-foot “no electioneering” buffer zone around official voting locations. It was Adams who told police he actually witnessed September tampering with the signs.
Richard Young, another witness, told the responding officer that he took images of September at the library. Young also reportedly snapped a photo of September’s vehicle to share with police.
September reportedly handed over the signs to Adams at the library. There is no indication any of the signs were damaged.
As of press time, AZ Free News is awaiting a response from the Gilbert Police Department as to whether the investigation has been referred to an outside law enforcement agency given the conflict of interest with the suspect being a town councilman.
If cited and convicted, September faces a sentence of four months in the county jail and / or a fee for each count contained in the conviction.
Scottsdale, Gilbert, and Chandler ranked in the top 21 best U.S. cities to raise a family, according to the latest study from WalletHub. Scottsdale was number 10, while Gilbert was number 13, and Chandler ranked 21.
Of all the Arizona cities included, Tucson ranked the lowest. Peoria ranked 49, Phoenix ranked 103, Tempe ranked 106, Mesa ranked 114, Glendale ranked 140, and Tucson ranked 156.
WalletHub assessed 182 cities: 150 of the most populated cities in the country, and at least two of the most populated cities in each state.
The nine other best cities to raise a family were, in order: Fremont, California; Overland Park, Kansas; Irvine, California; Plano, Texas; Columbia, Maryland; San Diego, California; Seattle, Washington; San Jose, California; and Madison, Wisconsin.
The 10-worst cities to raise a family were, in order: Detroit, Michigan; Cleveland, Ohio; Memphis, Tennessee; Birmingham, Alabama; San Bernardino, California; Newark, New Jersey; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Shreveport, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; and Augusta, Georgia.
In its study, WalletHub factored family fun, health and safety, education and child care, affordability, and socio-economics. Each factor was weighted 20 points.
Family fun accounted for: playgrounds per capita, ice rinks per capita, skate parks per capita, bike rental facilities per capita, mini golf locations per capita, parkland acreage, walkability, bike score, number of attractions, recreation friendliness, sports fan friendliness, ideal weather, share of families with young children, and average commute time.
Health and safety accounted for: air quality, water quality, access to healthy foods, pediatricians per capita, share of uninsured children, public hospitals ranking, infant mortality rate, pedestrian fatality rate, driving fatality rate, violent crime rate, property crime rate, family homelessness, and percentage of residents who are fully vaccinated.
Education and child care accounted for: school system quality, high school graduation rate, childcare costs, child day care services, childcare workers per children under 14, parental leave policy, and summer learning opportunities.
Socio-economics accounted for: two parent families, separation and divorce rate, families living in poverty, families receiving food stamps, unemployment rate, underemployment rate, debt per median earnings, wealth gap, and foreclosure rate.
Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) expressed that he was honored to learn of Gilbert’s ranking.
If there’s one entity that specializes in giving people something they don’t need—or aren’t even asking for—it’s the government. So, naturally, while the country faces sky-high inflation and Arizonans make sacrifices in their family budgets, the Town of Gilbert saw fit to discuss a potential…commuter rail.
That’s right. At the end of April, the Gilbert Town Council announced that it’s considering a $289,000 consulting contract for a feasibility study on establishing a commuter rail. What this would accomplish—and why anyone thinks this would be good for Gilbert—remains a mystery.
Even before COVID, public transit usage has been on the decline. And that’s only worsened since…
On Tuesday, the Gilbert Town Council announced a $289,000 consulting contract for a feasibility study on establishing a commuter rail. The commuter rail, a mode of public transportation at the core of major metropolitan areas like Chicago and New York City, would likely be located somewhere within the Heritage district. The council moved to consider the contract during a later study session.
The proposal comes at a time when transit crime rates have reached an all-time high in areas where they have the most use such as New York City, San Francisco Bay Area, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. Multiple studies link the presence of public transit such as light rail and commuter rail to an increase in crime and decrease in surrounding property values.
Vice Mayor Aimee Yentes asserted that the goal of the study wasn’t to establish feasibility, but rather to whip up something with “pretty pictures” that would distract from the facts behind commuter rail and inspire public support. Yentes accused Washington, D.C. lobbyists of pushing an agenda for financial gain at the loss of taxpayers and locals, mocking President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” campaign slogan as well.
“I think quite frankly we’re taking crazy pills if we think people are going to be excited about commuter rail,” said Yentes. “The complete boondoggle that this will be not just for this community, but for this state. We are literally observing California living this nightmare. I can’t point to a state that Amtrak is not being heavily and deeply subsidized by taxpayers despite 75 percent decline in their ridership. I can’t point to a state where we have a good model that makes any amount of sense for this. We’re going to put the foot on the pedal because we’ve got ‘Build Back Bankruptcy’ dollars that are going to be flooding the jurisdictions?”
Yentes also pointed out that all commuter rails require a local sales tax in addition to all the state subsidies and federal monies they receive. She predicted widespread community backlash.
“I think this is insane,” said Yentes. “I don’t think it’s a matter of timing. There is no good timing for broken 19th-century technology. I think this is a broken model and I think there’s a lot of buyer’s remorse in other states that have gone down this track.”
In addition to commuter rail, the transportation expansion would eventually become transit centers accommodating other types of transit: bus, bicycle, micromobility, and rideshare. Town research explained that such an initiative had been in the works since 1993.
Vice Mayor Aimee Yentes said she has “a lot of problems” with the proposed transit center, specifically the commuter rail, calling it “premature.” Yentes said that the scope of the project for stakeholder involvement wasn’t clear, and that the stakeholders’ work were oriented toward designing and planning rather than community outreach to assess desire and need.
Councilwoman Yung Koprowski insisted that the community at large was aware of the city’s intention to establish a commuter rail based on published documents made available to the community.
Yentes disagreed. She said it was one thing for these initiatives to be laid out in planning documents, but that the reality was the community weren’t involved in them. She said that only an “inner bubble” of the community kept an eye on planning documents.
“I think if I asked 100 of my neighbors if they know a commuter rail is coming to Gilbert, I think approximately zero of those people would be aware,” said Yentes.
Koprowski then clarified that this council decision would be the “first step” to get background and decide whether to move forward with the transit center.
Koprowski owns a transportation planning and civil engineering firm, Y2K Engineering.
Councilman Scott Anderson expressed doubts that the transit center would happen, citing Amtrak’s exclusion of Gilbert as a station location in previous reports and agreeing with Yentes that it was premature. Development Services Director Kyle Mieras revealed that Amtrak recently expressed support for a station location. He added that federal funds would be available to back the project.
“We wanted to show support for this and get ahead so if and when Amtrak or commuter rail does come forward, we’ve at least studied this and in a position where we’re going to come out ahead of it, so we’re skating to where the puck is going not where it’s been,” said Mieras.
Mayor Brigette Peterson added that the Amtrak southwest representative was shocked at Gilbert’s exclusion from viable locations. Peterson divulged that Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said that Gilbert was “way ahead” of their city when it came to establishing commuter rail, noting that the town had two areas open for stations, citing Cooley Station as an example.
“If Amtrak comes knocking with those federal dollars, is Gilbert on board to do that?” asked Peterson.
Koprowski noted that the feasibility study would offer some conclusion as to whether commuter rail was feasible and, if not, how the two potential areas could be repurposed. Yentes challenged the council to define its standard of feasibility.
The vast majority of financial backers behind Yes for Safe and Efficient Gilbert Roads – a ballot measure expenditure campaign committee in support of the town’s $515 million transportation bond, which voters approved last week – are all who stand to benefit: builders, architects, general contractors, traffic data analysts, to name a few. Per the committee’s campaign finance reports, those financial backers accounted for $43,100 of the $54,850 they received since their inception.
The following is a breakdown of all those likely to benefit from passage of the transportation bond, and the donation amount associated with them:
Arizona Chapter of Associated General Contractors of America: $15,000
Some of the names leading the charge on in-state donors included the town’s present and former leadership: Vice Mayor Lee-Yung Koprowski gave $500, as did former mayor Jenn Daniels. Although the former mayor doesn’t own or work within an infrastructure-related company, her lobbying firm could stand to benefit as AZ Free News reported. Daniels also pushed her endorsement for the bond initiative through a text alert to Gilbert voters.
Councilwoman Kathy Tilque and Koprowski both serve as committee chairs, though the original filing for their committee didn’t name Koprowski as the chair. The committee formed in June of this year.